Brewery owner turns ‘beer fast’ into a fundraiser

Dayton native’s virtual tip jar is raising money for bar and restaurant workers

The Lenten season is traditionally known as a time when Christians observe a period of fasting, moderation and self-denial, giving up things like fast food, snacks and sugar.

Del Hall, a Dayton native who graduated from Wayne High School in 1993, is a beer expert and brewery owner who decided a few years ago to give up all food during Lent and get his calories during that time exclusively from beer.

“I went into the Army after trying college at Wright State and Sinclair,” Hall said. “I needed something to help me grow up.”

Hall enjoyed his time in the Army and decided to get married in 1998 and start a family. Still serving in the Army reserve, Hall started selling real estate.

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“My father-in-law said I was meant for sales, but I needed to love what I sold,” Hall said. “I had a passion for cars and houses, so I chose real estate.”

After struggling with infertility, Hall and his wife eventually had twins — a daughter and a son — born prematurely in 2006. His son passed away shortly after birth, but daughter Natalie survived with some severe medical issues. After a divorce, Hall moved back to Dayton where he found another job in sales.

“Eventually, I was offered a job to be a vice president of a construction company,” Hall said. “By this time, I had built up a name for myself in the industry as a ‘beer geek.’”

These “beer geeks” were individuals known throughout the industry as experts who loved beer and frequented beer festivals. Hall was also brewing his own beer and belonged to the Dayton Regional Fermenting Technologists (DRAFT), a home brew club.

Then Hall met Ron Wilson, a craft beer distributor from Columbus. Wilson said he had heard of Hall and his beer reputation and asked him if he’d ever considered selling beer himself.

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“I loved beer, but I didn’t know how selling it could be that lucrative,” Hall said. “I was making a good living, but Ron said that I would be surprised what the beer industry could pay.”

Hall was offered a sales position with Wilson’s company — Premium Beverage Supply. He had turned a hobby he loved into a job and hasn’t looked back.

Having developed a taste for imported beer while in the Army, Hall especially loves the history and stories around beer. He developed a large social media following and was hired by Cincinnati-based 50 West Brewing Company in 2017. Two years later, after learning the story of Paulaner monks in Germany, who are credited with creating the first all-beer diet during Lent, Hall wanted to try this himself.

“I have always struggled with my weight after high school and I became interested in intermittent fasting,” Hall said. “I wanted to know if the monk story was true or just a myth.”

He decided to try the beer fast himself to prove it could be done. Most everyone he knew thought he was crazy. Hall admitted he wasn’t sure he could survive for 46 days on just beer.

The story went viral on social media and found its way to national media outlets. Averaging three to five beers daily, as well as water, Hall documented his journey on video. On Easter of that year, Hall was down 44 pounds. Hall, who consulted his doctor before starting the fast, says his bloodwork revealed that his health marker had improved, including blood sugar and cholesterol.

Because of all the attention, Hall decided to incorporate a fundraising component into his “beer fast” for the next year. His plan for 2020 was to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and he decided to extend his fast to 50 days, asking people to pledge an amount for each pound lost.

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Then in March of 2020, the COVID-19 related shutdown turned the world upside down and Hall was furloughed from his job. Almost all media attention became focused on the pandemic.

“Nobody was thinking about the beer-fasting guy from Ohio,” Hall said.

But he did the fast anyway, losing 51 pounds in 50 days and raising more than $10,000 for JDRF.

Today, Hall is a co-owner of 16 Lots Brewing Company in Mason and is dedicating his 2021 beer fast to staff members of bars and restaurants — most of which have lost revenue during the pandemic. Calling the event “Sgt. Del’s Virtual Tip Jar,” Hall is hoping to raise at least $50,000. The event will run through Easter, but donations will be accepted through April 11, 2021.

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