DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dave Jennings is the Head Brewer at Wandering Griffin. He used to be an accountant but started brewing beer multiple years after a life-changing accident.

“Our son, David Jennings passed away in 2005, along with both of my parents, Bob and Murray Jennings and in a car accident in San Diego,” Dave said.

Days after the fatal crash, Dave was cleaning out his son’s wardrobe and stumbled upon some unique looking bottles.

“I asked his buddies what was in the bottles, and they said, well, Mr. Jennings, David got a Mr. Beer kit,” Dave said. “I realized David brewed beer, and I immediately popped the top, went to take a sip and asked is it any good? About the same time, I’m realizing no, they said, not really.”

But his son’s homemade brew inspired Dave and his wife Kristi to look at it as a glass half full.

“When you lose a child, it’s never easy. It’s never easy when you lose any loved one. But we made a choice to be better rather than bitter,” Dave said.

Turning that bitter taste into a better one, with a special beer for the month of May, David’s birthday month.

“The special beer that we’ve been releasing the past few years is called Tribute to a Son,” Dave said. “The beer itself is a hazy IPA. It’s 7.4% ABV. It’s got tons of Citra and Mosaic hops in it.”

Dave said Tribute to a Son will be served until it runs out, which he expects to happen in Mid-June.

The beer is a tribute to David, but also to Bob and Marie Jennings.

“My father was an Air Force Academy grad and the class of 1959, which is the first graduating class for the Air Force,” Dave said.

Dave explained that some called his parents the ‘First Family’ of the Air Force, “because wherever our parents were stationed, they always held parties for all of the Air Force people in the area.”

A portion of the proceeds from this beer are being donated to the Tragedy Assistance Program, otherwise known as TAPS, which takes care of families that have lost a military father or mother. 

Dave said the military is near and dear to his heart, as well as helping grieving parents.

Dave and Kristi work with a group called Compassionate Friends, an international organization that offers counseling to bereaved parents and has a chapter in the Miami Valley. Dave said if any parents are mourning the loss of their child, he would encourage them to attend a meeting.

For parents mourning the loss of a child, Dave says grief is part of the journey.

“Your life will never be the same, it’ll be different,” Dave said. “But the most important thing is to understand the journey that grief is that you have to make a decision, whether you choose to be better or to be bitter.”