Joe Waizmann, founder of AleFest and a pioneer of the Dayton area’s craft-beer movement, confirmed today he is retiring from Warped Wing Brewing Company, the downtown Dayton brewery he co-founded.
Waizmann, 61, served as president of Warped Wing, which opened in January 2014 at 26 Wyandot St. in Dayton and which has enjoyed steady growth since day one. He referred to his retirement from the brewery as “a hiatus” from the industry, and made clear he isn’t stepping away permanently from the local beer scene.
The brewery he co-founded is on the cusp of a potentially significant growth spurt, Waizmann said, making this a good time to hand the reins over to his partners and new leadership that will guide Warped Wing to the next level.
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In a statement to this news outlet, Waizmann said:
“After lengthy introspection and planning, I made the difficult and bittersweet decision to retire from Warped Wing Brewing Company, effective Aug. 1.
“It’s time, after seven years of association with the top craft brewery in the greater Dayton area, to slow down for a while and devote time and energy to many deferred elements within my personal life. This hiatus will allow me to reflect on my hard work during 50 of the past 61 years on the planet, while allowing me to work on my next chapter of working hard at relaxation.
“As you can imagine, I will not be able to stay idle for long, and I will likely selectively explore options within the beer industry as well as unrelated fields.
“No doubt, we’ll see one another in a brewery or craft beer establishment as my thirst for excellent locally crafted beer will not wane.”
Waizmann will retain his role as co-organizer of the AleFest, the Dayton area’s largest (and Ohio’s longest-running) craft beer festival. The 19th Annual AleFest will be held on Aug. 26 at the Dayton Convention Center.
“It’s been a great pleasure to work alongside Joe the last seven years,” Nick Bowman, Warped Wing’s co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing, said in a phone interview this morning. “I learned a lot from Joe, including how to home-brew. He taught me a lot about the craft beer industry, and about the Ohio and Dayton beer scene.
“We are truly indebted to Joe for everything he’s done for Warped Wing and what he’s done to get it to this point.”
Although Waizmann served as president of Warped Wing and often served as the face of the brewery in media reports, his departure leaves intact three-quarters of the brewery’s founding team, which includes John Haggerty, the brewmaster who previously served for 10 years in the same capacity at New Holland Brewing in Michigan; Michael Stover, certified public accountant and chief financial officer; and Bowman, who previously served in various sales and marketing positions for Anheuser-Busch.
Waizmann has been the chief organizer of Dayton Beer Week festivities that occur in a multitude of pubs, taverns and restaurants during the week leading up to AleFest. Earlier in his career, he worked in the wholesale distribution end of the wine and beer industry locally.
Warped Wing sells beer at its Dayton tasting room, and in pint cans in the retail market. The brewery’s Trotwood Lager, which was originally envisioned as a seasonal brew, quickly caught on with local beer drinkers, and has become a year-round best seller for the brewery.
The brewery has expressed interest in establishing a presence in the Arcade in downtown Dayton as part of its future expansion plans, if re-development plans for the long-shuttered property are successful.