This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.
For an upstart brewery, even the best of times can be a rollercoaster, and weathering the effects of the pandemic on the service industry is another matter altogether.
For Lorton’s Fair Winds Brewing, this has been especially true. Just a few months after opening in 2015, they won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their excellent Siren’s Lure Saison. The following years saw core lineup beers like Howling Gale IPA and Quayside Kölsch become mainstays of local draft lines and shelves.
Then, in January of last year, co-founder and CEO Casey Jones passed suddenly, not only breaking the hearts of all of us who knew and loved him, but leaving the young brewery without one of its guiding voices at a crucial time.
Over the rest of 2019, Fair Winds found its footing and then, well, you know — all of this. Fair Winds has managed to keep beer moving, however, thanks to a loyal fanbase, a great brewing team, and a lot of work from Sales and Operations Manager Chris Banich, who I got to catch up with during the past week.
Banich started in the beer business as a part-timer at the old Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria (where I spent my 2007-2009) and became the beer buyer and eventually the store’s GM in its final months. After stints with a couple local wholesalers/distributors, Chris spent over three years as the Mid-Atlantic Manager for Colorado’s Avery Brewing. Following his time with Avery, Chris did some consultation work for Crooked Run and has been in his position at Fair Winds for close to a year and a half now.
I wanted to ask Chris about how the brewery is doing, how its sales have been affected, and how they’ve had to adapt. The biggest difference is, of course, the dramatic shift from kegs to packaged beer. “We really had no clue what this was all going to look like,” he said.
Initially, the Fair Winds team expected to have to dump a large amount of their kegged beer as many others have had to, but they were able to convert it all to package and sell it. Their flagship Howling Gale IPA has been “averaging double digit cases sold every day out of the tap room and almost 7 times that amount per day in the market.”
“We are still brewing a ton,” Banich tells me. “Our wholesaler is begging us for more beer. We have unfortunately had to short them beer a few times” as they try to keep up with Howling Gale sales. Banich credits that wholesaler network with keeping Fair Winds beers on grocery shelves and in independent accounts.
Looking forward, Chris is trying to see the opportunities in the world that emerges on the other side of this. While many key accounts may be lost, he says, “if a thousand or so breweries close, that means a lot more open draft lines. Do we immediately make up that volume in other places?”
Also, the breweries that do manage to survive will have the pick of a wealth of talent that is suddenly on the market. Here’s to the Fair Winds team continuing to persevere.
Part of my job is to constantly find new beers to stock.
I like those beers, of course, but occasionally a beer comes along that really gets me. This happened recently with the new Black Rice Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. At only 3.8% ABV, it ticks the “session” box; as a year-round, it ticks the “if you make something good, make it available all the time” box; it’s tasty as hell, so it ticks the “tasty as hell” box.
There’s only so much information online about Black Rice Ale, so I asked our local AVBC rep if he had anything else to pass along. What he did was put me in touch with Fal Allen, AVBC’s brewmaster since 2000 and an industry veteran who started his pro career at Redhook in 1988. Yes, I was excited to chat.
Allen told me he had tried Chinese black rice, aka Forbidden or Emperor’s rice, in a dish. “I had no idea what it was but the rich nutty flavor was compelling. I immediately thought that it would work well in a beer.” AVBC’s site describes Black Rice as a Nut Brown, in fact.
I asked Allen if the intent actually was to make a Nut Brown or if they were searching for a style to suit the black rice. “It was really a matter of finding a style that the beer fit into,” he responded, adding “it is not really a nut brown ale but people want to know what it is like… we thought that it was closest to a nut brown ale.”
Allen noted they could also have compared it to Schwarzbier, but being neither German in style, nor a Lager ruled that out “although the beer certainly tastes like a schwartz bier.”
This hit on what, to me, is probably the most intriguing aspect of Black Rice Ale — how it melds roasty flavors of Black Ales and Lagers with the nuttier tones of American and English Browns. I wondered what the black rice actually brought to the beer besides being a cool ingredient to throw in the mash. Allen said the rice gives the beer its “delicious dark color,” and “a nice nutty flavor,” and doesn’t think it contributed anything to the beer’s aroma.
Remembering how the 2014 release of AVBC’s Gose sparked a new era for the brewery (and for Sour Ales in America in general), and noticing that Black Rice arrives at the same time as the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Stouts and Porters moving from bombers to cans and the introduction of its new Hibiscus Rozelle, I asked Allen if we were seeing another instance of Anderson Valley not quite reinventing itself, but refocusing.
“I agree it does feel a little like that, but I think it was more to do with a change in attitude,” he explained. “We are not trying to reinvent ourselves so much as we are trying to get our products out to market a little better.” The unpainted cans AVBC uses allows them to more quickly take what may be initially a draft-only offering and get it out to a wider audience if the response is good.
With bottle sales way down and cans on the rise on the East Coast, that promises more cool AVBC beers on the horizon. For now, check out Black Rice Ale if you see it around.
Upcoming Beer Events at Arrowine:
TODAY — Friday, September 13, 5-7 p.m. — Tom Blanch of Sierra Nevada
Saturday, September 21, 1-4 p.m. — Devon Callan of Reason Beer Company
Saturday, October 5, 12-3 p.m. — Patrick Cashin of Charm City Meadworks
Friday, November 8, 5-7 p.m. — Jesse Ploeg of Potter’s Craft Cider
The event is planned to be held on the street outside the brewery at 2709 S. Oakland Street. Entrance is free with community arts and music planned for the festival, along with food and dessert trucks. A “beer package” is also available for $22, good for three tickets to sample New District beers.
New District founder Mike Katrivanos told ARLnow that much of the festival will be similar to last year, but with a heavier focus on artists.
“We are getting a lot more artists this year,” Katrivanos said. “Last year, we did this cool thing where we had an artist do a piece featuring tires from the auto shops nearby. She actually made the tires into art pieces like wavy walls set up throughout the festival.”
This year, Katrivanos said he’s hoping to have a metalworking artist display their work at the festival. An artist hasn’t been selected yet — that’s expected to happen happen in July — so if anyone knows any metalworking artists they’re encouraged to reach out to the brewery for some potential work.
In the meantime, Katrivanos said there are some Arlington-focused events and features at the brewery.
“We did a North-South Arlington collaboration beer with The Board Room up in North Arlington,” said Katrivanos. “We called it Crossing Route 50. The North Arlington crowd doesn’t want to cross Route 50, so we tried to build a bridge.”
The beer is a grapefruit IPA, which Katrivanos described as having the aroma of dank citrus and tropical notes from the hops.
The other event coming up is the honeysuckle harvest, where the brewery takes 30-50 volunteers on a road trip to pick honeysuckle from various parts of Virginia. Mostly the group visits farms and parks, where honeysuckle — an invasive species — is seen as a weed.
“We bring it back to the brewery here and brew a honeysuckle hefeweizen with the fresh flowers,” said Katrivanos. “It captures all the aromatics — captures the sweet flavor of the honeysuckle and reminds you of Virginia summer. That beer is one of our beers people know us by. We’re actively campaigning for that now and we’ll be picking honeysuckle.”
For anyone interested in a weekend honeysuckle road trip, Katrivanos said to contact Michael Sutherland at [email protected].
Photo via New District Brewing Company/Facebook
(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) The 24th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival is hitting the streets again this June.
The free blues festival will be held on Saturday, June 15 from 1-8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.
The event is organized by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).
This year, the CPRO is partnering with Shirlington-area New District Brewing Company, which will serve up craft beer during the event, per an organizer’s announcement.
CPRO board president John Snyder said the organization is “delighted” to partner with New District Brewing this year.
“We love to get together with neighbors and local businesses — New District is both — and we love their beer!” Snyder said in a statement.
Thousands have attended the festival in previous years, which closes nearby roads from around 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. that day.
Details on the performance line-up, activities, and road closures are yet not available on the festival’s website.
Photo courtesy of the Columbia Pike Documentary Project
Tickets to the event are $30 if purchased in advance, or $45 at the door. Tickets give visitors entry into the festival and live entertainment, as well as ten beer sampling tickets along with a custom mug to fill.
VIP tickets, $50 in advance or $65 at the door, includes 15 beer sampling tickets, early access, a private tent and private bathrooms.
In addition to German food, the Oktoberfest will host various food trucks serving things like New York-style pizza or tacos.
But the Crystal City Oktoberfest isn’t the only one in Arlington this fall. In the wake of the closure of Capitol City Brewing, hosts of Shirlington’s annual Oktoberfest, New District Brewing is taking up the mantle and expanding its “Arlington ValleyFest” on Sept. 30.
The festival will take place at 2709 S. Oakland Street. While the event will have plenty of beer, the focus will also be on promoting local arts.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, the Copperwood Tavern on 4021 Campbell Ave. will also be hosting their “Shucktoberfest”, an event co-sponsored by Northern Neck’s Waverly Point Oyster Company, highlighting beer and oysters as a major draw.
Photo via Crystal City BID
Beer lovers will have not just one, but two Oktoberfest-themed events to enjoy in the Shirlington area this fall.
New District Brewing announced this week that it’s expanding its “Arlington ValleyFest” event to help pick up where Capitol City Brewing, long the hosts of an Oktoberfest celebration, left off after the brewpub closed this spring.
But restaurateur Reese Gardner tells ARLnow that he’ll also be hosting an Oktoberfest gathering along Campbell Avenue, in and around his Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Avenue), ensuring that the Village at Shirlington will still have a fall beer festival even with Cap City gone.
Gardner is dubbing the event “Shucktoberfest,” as it will be co-sponsored by the Northern Neck’s Waverly Point Oyster Company, and it’s now set for Oct. 20. He says he secured an agreement from the shopping center’s landlord to host the event shortly after Cap City closed up shop in April, and recently finalized securing the necessary permits from the county.
Gardner said 19 Virginia breweries have committed to attend, many of which served up their suds at Cap City’s Oktoberfest events. Gardner says the event will feature “oyster tents” and other food options, as well as a “kids’ zone” and game area that will include cornhole.
Tickets will be available for the event on its website. Gardner is also looking for volunteers to help staff the festival.
Capitol City Brewing might’ve closed up shop in Shirlington, but some of the area’s remaining brewmasters are trying to keep the spirit of the brewery’s popular “Oktoberfest” celebration alive.
Cap City started hosting an annual Oktoberfest event back in 1999 at its former location in the Village at Shirlington. The brewpub’s sudden closure back in March marked the end of that event, but the New District Brewing Company is hoping to fill the void with a similar event just across Four Mile Run.
The brewery is planning to host “Arlington ValleyFest” around its home on 2709 S. Oakland Street on Sept. 30, the same weekend Cap City traditionally convened Oktoberfest.
New District founder Mike Katrivanos told ARLnow that he envisions that ValleyFest can “pick up the mantle” of what Cap City started.
“With every end coming, there’s a new beginning,” Katrivanos said.
Katrivanos says New District hosted ValleyFest for the first time last year, but on a substantially smaller scale. They put on the festival the first weekend of November, but he says the chilly weather made that a “not very desirable date” moving forward.
But when he saw that Capitol City would be closing up shop, he decided to call around and check with other business owners to see if anyone else would be hosting Oktoberfest instead. He discovered that no one was especially interested in doing so, and he set about seeing if he could move up ValleyFest a bit.
Katrivanos quickly secured the county’s approval for the change, and even earned permission to double the festival in size. The event will now run nearly the length of S. Oakland Street, after it intersects with S. Four Mile Run Drive, running past the Shirlington Dog Park.
“We really hope to kind of replicate Oktoberfest, though hopefully not in the drunken mob type of sense,” Katrivanos said. “We’re not trying to get that crowd coming to consume too much, but we definitely are trying to create an enjoyable vibe centered around a large event.”
While Katrivanos says the event will have plenty of beer on hand, he also wants to be focused on local art, especially given the debate around the best ways to promote the arts in the Four Mile Run Valley as part of the county’s review of its plans for the area.
Katrivanos expects to have a variety of local artists on hand, as well as the Arlington Art Truck. He’s even planning a “pop-up” art installation he hopes will be a “Burning Man-style exhibit built in one day.”
He added the event will also include some of the same vendors who staffed Cap City’s Oktoberfest will be in attendance, with food trucks and even a “Ben and Jerry’s Dessert Truck” serving up treats.
The festival will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. The event will be free, but New District is offering deals for beer tickets on the event’s website.
Photo via Facebook
The Shirlington-area brewery at 2709 S. Oakland Street is introducing Abbey, a spiced, smooth Belgian Dubbel. But it’s a limited edition: just 250 individually-corked and hand-labeled 750ml bottles.
New District expects to sell out of its stock within 2-3 weeks, so the best opportunity to get your hands on one is at the release party on Saturday.
- One 2 Year Anniversary Dubbel 750ml limited release bottle (with option to buy a second)
- One pint of 2 Year Anniversary Dubbel on Tap
- One beef brisket taco from the famous La Tingeria food truck, braised in a chipotle garlic sauce with NDBC brewed street beer for 12 hours.
The preceding was written by ARLnow.com and promoted by New District Brewing.
A beer release of epic proportions is coming to Arlington.
In celebration of the opening of their new Clarendon location, the Heritage Brewing Co. team is releasing four new packaged beers, and 10 draft only releases on May 13 at their Market Common Brewpub & Roastery.
The primary release for Heritage Brewing’s Grand Opening event will be their three-year anniversary ale. A massive beer, and yet another rich entry into Heritage Brewing Co.’s barrel series. This beer is the product of the time and patience of
master blenders, taking an artful approach to combining seven different barrel series beers aged up to 33 months. It consumes the palate with flavors of deep molasses, dark cherries, and toasted oak, finishing with tart citrus notes. The result is an extremely complex beer that drinks more like a fine spirit than an ale. Only 600 22-ounce bottles will available in the Arlington brewpub on the day of the release.
Heritage Brewing Co. will also be kicking off its new Lincoln’s Hat beer series with
two packaged releases: Double Taxation, a double India Pale Ale, and Sovereign Stout, a nitro imperial stout. Double Taxation is a complex and unfiltered imperial IPA that is juicy, resinous, and loaded with tropical citrus notes from its generous hop additions. Sovereign Stout is a dangerously smooth and velvety imperial stout with bold flavors of honey, chocolate, and dark-roasted coffee. Heritage will be releasing 150 four-packs of 16-ounce cans of each Lincoln’s Hat beer during the Grand Opening. Supplies aren’t anticipated to last long.
The third and final packaged beer release available on May 13 will be Heritage Brewing Co.’s first ever wild fermented beer release and the start of their new Wilderness Series bottle releases. A collection of rare and wild aged beers that take on sour and tart flavors from their naturally occurring fermentation. Each beer is aged in a mix of barrels from vineyards and distilleries. This first Wilderness Series release is a wild-fermented Belgian strong ale; only a few hundred of these will be available in 375 ml bottles. This ale features a mix of spices, giving it a refreshing tart fruit flavor like no other beer in their lineup to date.
The doors at Heritage Brewing Co. Market Common Brewpub & Roastery will open at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, and the releases will kick off immediately. Guests can also dine-in at their location and enjoy their chef-driven, locally sourced menu, created to pair perfectly with their long lineup of brews. Simultaneously, the main production brewery in Manassas will also be selling the new releases upon opening at 12:00 p.m.
For additional information on the grand opening event to include draft beer release descriptions and information as well as package photography and merchandise photography, visit the event page.