Veteran Working to Launch Brewery in Arlington

by Katie Pyzyk October 24, 2012 at 10:50 am 13,832 97 Comments

A Navy veteran is attempting to bring brewing back to the area. He wants to launch the first indigenous distribution craft brewery in Arlington since the Arlington Brewing Company stopped producing beer in 1916.

Paul Hurley is working to make CasaNova Brewing & Sound, LLC a reality, along with business partner Mike DiBella, who has worked with other start-ups such as Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church. Initially, the plan is to brew four signature beers — an IPA, a black IPA, a hefeweizen and a chocolate stout.

“Every endeavor we make will be our sincerest effort to represent the NoVa community through quality, innovation and art,” Hurley said. “CasaNoVa will source the freshest ingredients from local farmers and suppliers while supporting local businesses whenever possible.”

The “art” he mentioned refers to the desire to feature performances by local musicians at CasaNoVa. This aspect of the business incorporates the partners’ long time dream of opening a music venue in the area.

“The brewery is going to focus on exotic ingredients and the young professional demographic,” DiBella said. “We want Arlington to be known for great beer, great music, and a unique atmosphere that celebrates Arlington’s diversity and ties together the community.”

Hurley says he was drawn to the idea of brewing after a series of events stemming from the loss of his right leg. Hurley explained that he had spent time overseas while in the Navy. One day when he was driving down a road in Bahrain with a friend, Hurley says they were chased and run off the road, resulting in an accident that flipped the vehicle. Hurley ended up losing both his leg and his friend.

Following more than two years of recovery, Hurley decided it was time to leave the Navy. He struggled to find a place of employment offering the same level of camaraderie he experienced in the Navy. That is, until he visited family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin two years ago, during a gathering at a smaller brewery started by two brothers. The experience prompted Hurley to begin home brewing and researching a business plan for his own craft brewery.

For now, Hurley and DiBella are focused on raising the $160,000 necessary for launching their business. Although perhaps a bit ambitious, their goal is to be operational by the summer of 2013. They hope to soon secure the space they’re investigating for the brewery location near the Ballston mall.

The partners plan to hold their first fundraising event in about a month, where they will offer tastings of two of the flagship beers. Volunteers and investors interested in helping with the brewery are encouraged to follow CasaNoVa’s Facebook page, or to email [email protected] for more information.

  • SteamboatWillie

    Good luck to you sir. I hope you succeed.

    • TheBeermonger

      +1. I wish him all the success in the world. I’d love to have some Arlington-made beer to tout.

  • billj

    ^ +1

    Space near Ballston Mall… Chevy’s?

    • Quackers

      I don’t know, Chevy’s is an awfully big space for a new business to rent.

      When I saw the headline I assumed they’d end up someplace in South Arlington, like Columbia Pike (consider the new breweries starting up in NE DC).

      I guess renting in Ballston puts them in Arlington’s burgeoning “Beer Belt,” though (as well as near a transportation hub).

      Suggested new brew is the “Flaming Leon.”

      What, too soon?

      • BeerMiner

        Nevermind that there is already a well established brewery at the Ballston Mall, but Rock Bottom has struggled since the influx of Rustico and WOB… the peanut galleries at Union Jack’s, Buff Wild wings aren’t helping either..

        You bring up another point that the new breweries in DC are in the hood where the rents are lower… I’d say South Arlington is a good idea if Capitol City Brewing wasn’t already a destination… Then again a little competition could potentially rekindle some passion in some complacent brewers…. The reason the DC breweries as well as many others nation wide aren’t in prime retail space is that especially little start ups can spend their money more effectively on legit equipment and raw ingredients…(good luck sourcing any sizeable amount of “local” malted barley and hops…)

        • Herman

          Rock Bottom has faced the extra competition from the local upstarts, but during that time there was also the merger with Gordon Biersch, which has caused a few more subtle changes to the Ballston shop, although you’d pretty much have to be a long time regular to really notice. But it has had some influence on return customers.

          There has also been a revolving door at their GM spot, and the corporate vibe, post-merger, has kind of taken over what used to be a good bar for locals.

          • Sheriff Gonna Getcha

            Yea- Rock Bottom just doesnt do it for me. I’ve lived in the RB corridor since 2008 and I have only been there twice.

  • Ben

    Please no more IPAs – the world has enough!

    • MC 703

      Port City’s is my new favorite. Not crazy hoppy. Balanced and refreshing.

      • SHLady

        it’s a good East Coast IPA, if you believe in the East-West IPA divide.

        • Tupac

          The East Coast West Coast war is over

    • Deadite

      Agreed. Too many IPAs nowadays, and they all try to outdo one another with the hoppiness. Can’t anyone make a good lager anymore?

      • malaka

        Victory Prima Pils is the gold standard

        • Quoth the Raven

          Concur. Victory is a real solid brewery. Their Pale Ale is excellent.

          • SteamboatWillie

            Another vote for Victory.

            We’re enjoying the Golden Age of craft brewing in America. There are so many top notch craft breweries right now – Victory, Founders, Tröegs, Ballast Point, Schlafly, Firestone Walker, Bell’s, Mother Earth, Sweetwater, 3 Floyds, Russian River, Two Brothers, and on and on. . . .

      • Ben

        Devils Backbone Vienna lager get’s my vote. Not to mention it’s local too – double win.

    • David

      More IPAs, fresher is better, if I can walk to a place that produces a great IPA this world will be a better place for me.

    • SteamboatWillie

      Never enough of a good thing

    • Joe


  • Mike Honcho

    Ben has a point. IPAs are getting out of hand. Appeals to the masses, but won’t garner regular beer drinker attention.

    • FrenchyB

      “Appeals to the masses, but won’t garner regular beer drinker attention.” Uh, what?

    • MC 703

      Makes sense it does not.

    • Deadite

      I’m not sure the extreme hoppiness of most craft IPAs is something that appeals to the masses.

    • Glebe Roader

      Then, drink something else. There are plenty of beer choices.

      • Deadite

        I think his point is that it’s getting harder to find anything else, because all anyone makes anymore is IPAs.

        • Glebe Roader

          Honcho says IPAs appeal to the masses. You say it doesn’t appeal to the masses. And here, you defending his point.

          Anyway, I think there are many IPAs available and many non-IPAs available. Lots of choices.

          • Ben

            It seems all craft breweries start with a IPA, as you mentioned there are ton’s of other beer choices out there so why IPA?

            It’s a US thing – on a brewery tour I took in Belgium they told me they had a Belgium IPA just for the US because “Americans love hops.”

            Maybe it’s just me but after the first few sips of any overly hoppy beer I can no longer taste making the point of drinking the beer pointless.

          • drax

            No, Honcho says IPAs appeal to the masses and then says it doesn’t.

          • SHLady

            agreed, all breweries offer non-IPA choices.

    • Ballstonian

      I enjoy a good IPA, and am a fan of Port City’s, but i also feel that hops are somewhat of a crutch to brewers these days, and that by making a beer “hoppier” people will think it is “cooler” and “better” and that you can cover an otherwise lackluster beer by adding hops and appealing to the trend.

      • Ben

        Agree on all accounts.

      • Deadite

        Yes, couldn’t have said it better myself. By no means am I anti-IPA, but the whole trend has gotten out of hand and a lot of them aren’t very good.

        • SteamboatWillie


  • BrianR

    I like beer

  • CrystalMikey


  • MKauf

    Yes, another bar with beer!!!! I hope they are in Ballston or near a metro!

  • GameCock

    Maybe Sams Corner would be good spot?

    • TheBeermonger

      oof. Parking?

      • drax

        Yeah, Clarendon is a bad place for a bar.

      • Say it Ain’t So

        I couldn’t agree more – No parking – no business. Clarendon sucks when it comes to parking. So does Columbia Pike…. either way, if they’re looking for money their biz plan better have the location based on target clients laid out clearly. If 75% of their biz is based on locals who walk – then maybe they’ll do ok. I drove around for 30 minutes the other day looking for a parking spot to go to Northside the other day – what a waste of time and effort that was. They clearly only cater to walking locals….I’ll never go back.

        • Yogi Berra

          Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.

    • Drunk_IrishChick

      Um Sams Corner is going to be the New Osullivans!!!


  • SHLady

    Best of luck to him!

  • blah

    Awesome…It is nice Arlington has some really good beer bars, but will be even better with its own brewery.

  • me too

    I’d vote for some gluten free options (not cider). If you could make a GF chocolate stout . . . .

    • malaka

      Not likely to happen in the USA for a while at least. Gluten free beers are made from Sorghum – not barley and it would be difficult to get the dark chocolatey taste that is from roasted barley malt. In Belgium they have been working with extracting gluten from barley but this cannot be called gluten free in the USA.

      • me too

        Sounds like I should make a trip to Belgium . . . I miss my stouts! Thanks for the info!

    • B

      Rock Bottom often has a gluten free beer on tap.

  • dang!

    it won’t easy getting a live music permit so close to residences…perhaps the mall would a good choice…and there is also open over there the old spa location

  • JimPB

    Best wishes.

    Business plan? They need money for starting up and to cover operating losses for a likely year or two.

    If they are only going to brew the four beers for sale elsewhere, go for low rent space. But they will incur the need for an ongoing sales effort and distribution system to obtain and maintain and supply the retailers of their brews.

    If they are going to be the sole sellers of their brews, that will require a space that is readily accessible to a large number of potential customers and equipment, furnishings and space for food. Mad Fox in the City of Falls Church would be an excellent model. Mad Fox could be instructive in other ways. It took a year or so for Mad Fox to get its food service up to snuff. Mad Fox now appears to be thriving (but I haven’t see its financial books).

    • Deadite

      You must be a first year MBA student.

    • Glebe Roader

      Maybe they will send you their business plan for your approval.

    • BeerLover

      I agree. Good thing Mike knows a thing or two about Mad Fox.

  • B22201

    Nooooooooooooo Ballston. . . and Nooooooooooo, Clarendon.

    Also, you need better food than Mad Fox.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Such a bummer the food isn’t better there, as the beer is just great. Cask ale should be more common….

      • JamesE

        The pork belly was pretty damn good when I went there (long ago). I don’t go much since you have to drive there.

  • David

    I wish them luck, will be awesome to be able to walk to a brewery (other than Rock Bottom)/

  • SouthSide

    This is perfect for South Arlington–the old Ski Chalet space!

    • BeerMiner

      that’s actually a pretty cool idea right there….

      • ADCthree

        +1: South Arlington has better local vibe… Ballston too commercial and already has a saturation of beer spots.

  • Chris

    What does Indigenous distribution mean?

    • Native Arlingtonians

      “What does Indigenous distribution mean?”

      Only native born Arlingtonians can drive the delivery trucks…duh !!!

      • B22201

        YES! But I don’t want to drive the delivery trucks.

    • drax

      A really convoluted way of saying it’s not a chain from somewhere else, such as Capitol City or Rock Bottom.

      • BeerMiner

        Sorry, can’t help but call BS on the Cap City Comment… That place is a Washington Original and isn’t a chain… Not to mention the only place they are still brewing ALL of their beer is in Arlington at the Shirlington Location… They also don’t pander to the schmucks selling miller light bottles to people too stupid to appreciate fresh beer…

        • Deadite

          Hopefully this place will have better food than Cap City.

  • Sheriff Gonna Getcha

    Maybe they can have a small storefront in Ballston but then have the actual “brewery” inside the mall on the of the upper levels.

    I think the old Chevy’s is too large and too much of a gamble early on.

    • Deadite

      There’s no way a brewery is going into the top floor of any mall.

  • drax

    Put it in a certain empty lobby in Rosslyn and call it CasaNoVArisphere. Beer and art. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  • Not so fast my friend…

    This sounds awesome, and I wish him the best of luck, although I also worry about the location. This place sounds like it’s going to have some character to it, something of which Ballston has none. Now that might sound like a good play, bringing something to an area that’s missing it, but I just don’t see people looking for something “cool and different” going to Ballston. Something just to the east of Clarendon maybe, or if that’s too expensive, Columbia Pike I think would be better. A place like Mad Fox would kill in those locations.

  • Chris

    Brewery near metro please

  • Rosslyn

    Ballston already has this and seveal variations. I think it would be a great addition to Rosslyn.

  • SArlCo

    South Arlington – Columbia Pike!

  • Glebe Roader

    Yes, near Ballston is a fine location!

  • iiandyiiii

    How about a Marzen?

    • SteamboatWillie

      I’d bet the farm that if the brewery is operating next fall, there will be a Märzen on the menu.

  • Deadite

    This is a rare instance where I’d rather they open in S Arlington simply so they don’t get overrun by 23 year old douches, a-la world of beer.

  • Duy

    For fundraising try kickstarter.com, it’s a good place to pitch your idea!

  • Chano

    Rock Bottom is actually pretty good if you can ignore the sad mall and its would-be fire bombers. They make their beer too so doesn’t that qualify as brewing?

    Sure, it can get pretty crowded for $1.50 pints on Wednesdays but there are enough TV screens in which to stare and tune out the flip-flop riff raff.

    • Joey

      Rock Bottom is good now. The current head brewer has been there for a few years and keeps a reliable good selection of beers going all the time. It’s been different over the years as various brewers came and went. But they’re solid right now.

      • Larchmont

        Good to know, will check them out again.

        • SteamboatWillie

          Same. I gave up on Rock Bottom years ago, but if the local branch has a quality brewer, I’ll give it another try.

    • MKauf

      RB doesn’t have $1.50 pint nights anymore. 🙁 New management keeps changing the menu too.

      • BeerMiner

        You are wrong, they do still have $1.50 pints on wednesday…. And even if they were $2 they’d still be a screaming deal for fresh beer.

  • They need to raise $160 K before they can commence. Any investors out there?

    • Larchmont

      I’m guessing that if they setup a table for donations inside the mall they’d get…$1.60.

      • You are probably right.

        Seems no one has the resources to invest in something like this, regardless of how good an opportunity it sounds like.

  • W’over

    Westover is near the Ballston Mall. A beer drinker can dream…

  • Ziv

    I think that a brewer would be well served to start small and build a loyal following and then move to a larger venue. Keep his rent expense as low as possible while making it easy to park or to walk to the place. Until the Burger 7 moved in I would have said that the location that used to be Chickpea on Lee at Cleveland would have been perfect for a small startup with room for a lot of parking. Now I am thinking that maybe Arax old location in Westover would be ok but it is so small that the seating would be tough unless they got the cleaners that the owner of Arax used to run as well as the old Arax space.

  • HungryonLee

    How about the Alpine? The Liberty/Lyon guys aren’t doing anything with it.

    • Westover

      Or get rid of Joe’s Pizza Place. That little stand-alone building would be perfect.

  • Ed

    I’m often disappointed in Mad Fox’s beers. I prefer Dogfish Head’s. More flavor . . .

  • CK

    The CasaNova name stinks. And I’d worry about the focus on music. There are already a TON of venues around the Northern VA/DC area. Iota, State Theater, Jammin Java, plus all of the venues in DC… Is there really that much demand?

  • Mc

    I’d rather see the reintroduction of brewing Cherry Smash in Arlington.

  • Mike

    We actually looked at that building but the renovations would have been too costly. And we couldn’t find anything else that would work for a brewery in South Arlington. Leads would help though!

  • nameisthis

    egads, they’re spreading their swill to other counties.

    save yourself. crap service, servers who spit and beer that’s swill, over priced at that.


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