Fifth Street Brewpub’s biergarten and menu are ready for summer

I like to think of myself as an early adopter, so when I heard that Ohio’s first co-op brewpub was forming right here in Dayton and they were looking for charter members to sign up, I happily paid the $100 they were asking for.

I didn’t know much about it except some St. Anne’s Hill residents had some big ideas for the property at 1600 E. Fifth St. and it sounded exciting. The dilapidated building they had chosen — once the home to a grocery store — didn’t look like much in the past when I had driven by, but it seemed like a worthwhile investment to play a small part in a community effort to create a neighborhood gathering spot out of something that was once was an eyesore.

So in 2012 with that $100, I became a member-owner of the Fifth Street Brewpub (FSB) with hundreds of other Dayton residents and beer lovers and waited to see just what exactly that meant.

On Aug. 3, 2013 this labor of love opened to the public as a bar only, providing various craft beers with food provided by local food trucks. The kitchen opened on Nov. 17, 2013 and FSB beers were unveiled upon completion of a newly constructed seven-barrel brewhouse on July 16, 2014. By then several thousand members were on the books and that number has swelled to the 2,800 they are currently at. This weekend will mark the celebration of the co-ops third birthday.

The lifetime membership now costs $125. The one-time fee gets FSB members one membership share. More importantly it gets them 50 cents off all draft beer, a beer for a penny on their birthday with the option to purchase a $2 Happy Birthday glass, $2 off daily food specials and discounts through FSB’s membership loyalty program.

It says you get invitations to special member-only events such as beer tastings or beer dinners, but as a member I have yet to see that arrive — still it’s nice to think that someday it will.

When I think of great patios in town, several come to mind, and FSB’s biergarten is high on the list. It seats about 75 and the restaurant and bar inside seats the same.

It’s one of the best spots in Dayton to enjoy a craft beer or cocktail this summer and grab some lunch. With 15 large picnic tables, there’s plenty of room and the space is relaxing and transformative.

The menu is relatively small, but the kitchen, led by Chef Brandon Travis, executes on it well. They are gearing up for a kitchen expansion this year that will offer significant changes to the menu.

“Our menu is best described as upscale pub food,” said Tobin Denney, board member and founding member of FSB. “It’s important that our menu is fresh and innovative, and we strive to break your local content as much as possible. Upon completion of our pending kitchen expansion, we will greatly broaden the scope of our menu.”

The Buffalo Chicken Nachos ($10) are a decadent, tasty choice for sharing. A plate of tortilla chips slathered in housemade buffalo cream cheese sauce, grilled chicken, corn and black bean relish, and melted cheddar cheese are a crowd-pleaser that you won’t be able to stop eating once you start.

Sandwiches like the Lurking Turkey ($12) are generously portioned and made with fresh, quality ingredients. In this case a mound of tender turkey breast, pecanwood-smoked bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and onion topped with a housemade cranberry-jalapeno mayo and served on a toasted Telera roll.

The FSB Salmon B.E.L.T. ($13) boasts a nice piece of seared salmon, pecanwood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and an over-easy egg with a housemade creamy garlic-herb aioli, served on a toasted roll.

The Asian Lettuce Wraps ($9) that come made with either pork or chicken, are a refreshing choice for summer. On repeat visits the pork has been more flavorful. The braised meet is topped with a cilantro-lime dressing, sesame seeds, julienne carrots, and diced scallion. Served with a sweet soy dipping sauce, spicy Asian mustard, and iceberg lettuce wraps, it’s a healthier option packed with flavor, although the portion size could stand to be beefed up a little.

There are several salad options including a Wedge ($7) and Caesar ($8) that can be topped off with grilled salmon ($5) or chicken ($3). There is also a very nice BBQ Ranch Chicken salad ($10) that comes dressed with a corn and black bean salsa, cheese and tortilla strips.

The daily soup specials are worth inquiring about. FSB’s Beer Cheese Soup ($5) is always available. It’s incredibly thick and rich — almost like a cheesy dip — mixed with vegetables and bacon, cooked up with FSB’s Deluge Pale Ale.

The Cure-All Cream Ale, brewed on-site, is a light, crisp choice that pairs well with almost anything on the menu. In addition to all of the FSB beers on tap brewed by Darren Link, there are also a nice variety of beers from other breweries raining in styles and flavors on the 12 taps. Keep an eye on social media and the FSB website for tap takeover’s with other breweries, both local and out of state.

If you haven’t tried any FSB beers before it’s worth ordering the sampler of 5 for ($8) featuring 4 oz. pours. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to FSB beers and find a favorite. Cocktails and a variety of wine are also available to order. It’s definitely a great spot to surprise the beer lover in your life if they haven’t yet been.

For purposes of this review I did not identify myself as a member or give my name and I do not benefit in anyway from writing this article.

My love for FSB springs from the story of how it came to be. A labor of love that the community got behind and helped make happen. The fact that the beer is tasty and the menu is worth ordering from makes it that much better.

The cool thing is, anyone can be a part of it — the public is invited to enjoy it anytime they like and shares are for sale to anyone who wants to say they own a bar.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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