PIQUA — Many local folks know him as Dr. Burkhardt, but a growing number of people are starting to refer to him as “Dr. Beer.”
Local physician Jim Burkhardt earned his malty moniker due to his role in helping to organize the annual Down The River, Down a Beer (DTRDAB) festival, which will take place this weekend in Lock Nine Riverfront Park. He and his wife Cheryl have logged many hours volunteering to make the event happen since it began three years ago.
With two days left before the evening of beer-tasting, river activities, music, food, and other festivities, Burkhardt took a few minute to discuss the brew-topia that is DTRDAB.
Q. What inspired you to organize DTRDAB?
A. My wife and I had gone to a number of beer festivals, and knowing there was nothing like this in Piqua, we thought we could host one. Having gone to larger ones like Alefest in Dayton, we thought we could do one here in town and have the proceeds go to some sort of project like the Great Miami River. Plus, having a beer fest is just a lot of fun!
Q. How has DTRDAB grown since its inception?
A. The first year, we had about 80 people. Last year, we had about 325, and this year, we expect over 600. Last year, we raised over $7,000.
Q. What do you think is the biggest draw to DTRDAB?
A. I really do think the main attraction is the beer-tasting. The side benefit is getting people down to Lock Nine and to see the river. In most sections of town, the river is not very accessible or very visible; this gets people down to look at the potential recreational, economic, and environmental aspects of the river. And the setting is beautiful!
Q. Why have craft beers become so popular in recent years?
A. I think people want to have more of a selection and more flavor. Thirty years ago, there were probably 85 breweries in the country; now there are over 100 just in ohio. The trajectory for craft beer has just taken off. Just like wine has different varieties, you can get a variety of different tastes in beer.
Q. What are some of the beers types that will be offered at DTRDAB?
A. There will be a lot of wheat beers, as well as bourbon barrel beers, and lighter fruit beers for the summer, Belgian-style beers … a whole variety of stuff and people can try things they wouldn’t normally get a chance to try.
Q. What food vendors will be represented?
A. Mulligan’s Pub will be there and Cold Stone Creamery is bringing up a truck. Maybe we’ll take a small serving of ice cream and make beer floats! Ice cream goes really well with stouts and porters, and with a couple of the fruit beers, like raspberry and peach … with wheat beers, you can do a vanilla float.
Q. Where do the proceeds from the event go?
A. The proceeds are going toward establishing a river steward program in conjunction with Edison (State Community College) to get students out on the water to make sure it’s in good shape ecologically and environmentally.
Q. What’s the importance of a river steward program?
A. Historically, the river was something we feared because it flooded and created problems. But there are a lot of recreational opportunities. If you look at the demographics, young people like communities that are active, and the waterway and bike trail have those opportunities for getting out and about.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.