Local craft beers are becoming a big part of our culture, with a multitude of recipes and some very unique and exciting themes that accompany the products. As more and more entrepreneurs try their hand at this growing business of brewing, it was just a matter of time before the fad made its way to Liberty County, and with it comes an abundance of history across the globe and here locally.
Ross Ward is bringing the 101st Brewery to Dayton after recently striking a deal with the Dayton Community Development Corporation to move their operation to a property owned by the entity. Currently, the 101st Brewery is utilizing a 20-gallon setup, with Ward hoping to switch to a 10-barrel system eventually that will put out 310 gallons at a time.
“We are kind of at the incubation stage of the business,” said Ward.
Currently, they are working on getting all of the required licensing at the local, state, and federal levels. Once they complete that process, they hope to move into a larger facility in the downtown area of Dayton.
“We’re currently waiting for construction to start on a building in downtown Dayton which hopefully is done in 12-18 months. Once that’s completed, we’ll start the process of moving into the new location. This will include a ten bbl brewhouse (can brew 310 gallons of beer at one time), so at that point, we’ll be able to be open to the public that includes a canned beer to go and a taproom,” said Ward.
Once they finally make their way to the more prominent location, that will facilitate much larger production and allow Ward to unveil an atmosphere dedicated to their historically themed tribute to the 101st Airborne and the greatest generation in American history, as well as veterans past and present. It is a lifelong interest in that period that he shares with his family and was greatly inspired by his grandfather.
“The inspiration for this started when I came into the world! My grandfather fought in WW2 and even did a stint in Europe later on in the war. His stories left a big impression on my dad as well. My dad was a big student of WW2, and growing up, he took all of us to air shows that included WW2 planes/ events, WW2 museums, you name it. So, of course, anything related to WW2 had a special place in my heart,” said Ward.
They have even recently been gained approval by members of the locally famed Ripkowski family to brew a new beer in honor of the family that sent so many brave soldiers into WWII and Korea. The beer will be called Saving Private Rip, as a play on the story of the brothers featured in the Tom Hanks film Saving Private Ryan.
“It wasn’t until approximately 2010 that I went into my first brewery, and it was such a positive experience that I walked out thinking to myself, ‘how much fun would it be to have a brewing operation with a WW2 twist to it?’ After that is when I started dabbling in homebrewing and would always name my beers after something that took place during the war.,” said Ward.
As for some of the types of beers you will find at 101st Brewery, there will undoubtedly be a traditional line of lagers, pilsners, and IPAs, but you can also expect to find what Ward calls dedicated specialties.
“When I say specialty beer, think Oreos, waffles, Peanut butter and jelly, cereal that includes maybe cinnamon toast crunch. Overall though, I’ll have a pretty heavy emphasis on lagers and pilsners, which includes your lighter beers,” said Ward.
101st has already introduced their Liberty Lager, named aptly for Ward’s hometown of Liberty, including a map of the city on the can. There is also a list of WWII veterans that were born and raised in Liberty on the label.
Ward, a native of Liberty, credits his wife Kora for supporting all his brewing endeavors and allowing him to convert their garage into a brewery.
“I have much to attribute to her support and contributions,” said Ward.
Ward is also joined in the venture by fellow hometown boy Bryan Bell. The pair have long been best friends. They truly hope to bring something very special to the local community and veterans that have helped inspire them along the way.
“I’m hoping to make a transition from being a single generational brewery where we look at just one generation of veterans to a multi-generational brewery where we are taking care of today’s veterans as well as tomorrow’s. The goal is once we have a definable and repeatable process that leads to greater efficiency across the board and we’re able to enjoy profits, we allocate a portion of that to local VFWs and the Gary Sinise Foundation. Starting a brewery and operating one is incredibly expensive, so this will take some time, but one of the long-term goals is to incorporate charity and compassion into the 101st’s DNA,” concluded Ward.
To keep up with updates on the 101st Brewery, you can follow them on their Facebook page at 101st Brewery or Instagram @101stbrewery.