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TheStreet Open House

The Best Craft Beer March Madness Has to Offer

Toxic Brewing Company Porn or Pawn Pepper Ale
Host city: Dayton, Ohio

Dayton's star has risen as the host city for the tournament's play-in games and one of the sites for its East regional matchups, but it still has a long way to go to catch up with Ohio's other brewing towns.

Home to a huge Boston Beer Samuel Adams brewery in Cincinnati and the home of powerhouse craft brewers such as Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio knows its beer. Unfortunately, Dayton is still kind of feeling its way around. In 2013, four months after March Madness left town, Toxic Brewing opened its doors to give Dayton its first commercial brewery in 60 years.

Toxic was worth waiting for. It's cranked out more than two dozen varieties since opening in June and hasn't kept it conservative in the least. Right out of the box, it offered an 11.3% alcohol by volume Abbey XXXX Belgian Quad, a 9% ABV Black Tonic Russian Imperial Stout, its Johnny On The Spot 9.7% ABV/100 IBU double IPA and a 6.7% ABV Hoppy Saison.

That's not to say it doesn't have more casual, drinkable brews on its roster as well. Its Three Two Throwback porter is well suited to a long day of first-round action with a scant 3.2% ABV, and a slate of 6.5% Hefeweizens are fine harbingers of the spring ahead. But the peppery version of the brewery's 5.5% ABV Porn or Pawn Pale Ale tops them all.

Brewed with roasted poblano and habanero peppers, this is more a chili beer than a pale ale. As served, it has some nice, modest spice to it without scorching wary drinkers. If it's still too tame for you, Toxic occasionally brews a hotter version, though that may have to wait until the madness dies down a bit.

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