Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Northern Virginia to Get New Brewery!

This information came straight from Beer Advocate, I take no credit.


From the post:

"Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia, formerly brewers for Ashburn VA's Old Dominion Brewing Company are planning a fourth quarter 2009 opening of a new Brewery in Ashburn. M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company..."


"The Company will house two distinct brands: Rhino Chasers™ Brewing Company and later, Catoctin Brewing Company."


"Hagerman and Garcia are in negotiations for a local space, and they are actively raising funding from local investors by selling company membership interests through a private placement offering."

Always great news to hear new breweries opening in the area. The DC area is somewhat under saturated with local brewing in my opinion. I wonder if these guys would be up for a contract brewing deal with yours truly, to get the HolzBrew brand off the ground. Things that make you go, hmmmmmm.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

NoVa Brew Fest: Summer 2009

Volunteered once again for the 2009 Summer NoVa Brewfest. This festival is great and it's pretty much 100% jerk-free. Everyone is out for an afternoon of fun in the sun (or cloudy overcast-ness as it was today). My friend Brent and I worked the Troegs tent and poured Hopback Amber and Sunshine Pils all afternoon. People really dig the Hopback Amber, we poured a ton of that stuff.

I was fairly cautious with the drinking this time, because I was driving Brent and I home, so I didn't go too crazy tasting all of the great brews available. I did try a few things, and really loved the Star Hill Northern Lights IPA. I got the chance to try the Apollo Double IPA offered by Troegs as part of their scratch series. It weighs in at a monstrous 115 IBU. I asked the brewery rep what hops are used in it and he responded, "Pretty much everything that we could find." This thing was crazy hoppy, which was great for a hop head like me.

An awesome afternoon. Everyone should consider volunteering for the fall version of this festival, guaranteed great times. There is really no downside to volunteering. You get to attend the festival for free, get to know the brewery reps, and meet a lot of new people that approach your booth for a tasting. The volunteer management is always very helpful and they regularly come around and allow you to take breaks from your pouring responsibilities (i.e. walk around and sample beer).

Get your volunteer on,

Currently pouring beer for troegs @ the nova brewfest. stop by!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Interview with a Brewer: Bill Madden

For today's post I arranged an interview with a really great guy, local brew legend Bill Madden. The interview was prompted by my interest in the Mad Fox brewpub that I have been hearing about around town for the last year or so that is supposed to be opening right in my backyard, Falls Church. Without further ado:

Holz: I heard about the possible future opening of Mad Fox Brewing last fall from some friends, how long has Mad Fox been in the works?

Bill: Mad Fox Brewing Company has been in the works for some time and has always been my dream. I think it got serious about three years ago when a great friend of mine and current business partner, Rick Garvin, started to mentor me on how to go about developing a business. We would talk and then I would be given a task list to go out and work on and then I would get busy with a beer festival or some other distraction. The business took longer and longer to develop. Then Rick got the idea to work with me and develop Mad Fox together for a stake in the business, he put up startup capital and he has been instrumental in helping me to deal with the startup business issues while I can concentrate on the restaurant and brewing concepts. Rick has started numerous businesses over the years and I have helped in the opening or restarting of 7 brewpubs in the area so our skill sets work well together.

Holz: According to the website, Mad Fox is slated to open November 2009, is that scheduled opening date still a reality?

Bill: Well, let’s say November 2009 is probably too soon but we had to pick a target date and last fall that seemed reasonable. I would say now that the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010 would be more like it.

Holz: A lot of my readers aren’t familiar with Bill Madden, would you mind giving us a run down of your brewing career to date?

Bill: My brewing career started with home brewing in San Francisco and a friend of mine liked my beer so much he suggested I look into going to the University of California at Davis, Master brewers Program. I graduated in 1995 from UC Davis and was hired by Capitol City Brewing Company before I graduated to become a part of their expansion team. Cap City was just the one location then at 11th and H in the District of Columbia and I was to be the brewer at Tyson’s Corner, which never happened. I opened the Cap City on Capitol Hill then designed the brewery for Shirlington, Bethesda and Baltimore. At various times I ran all those breweries and found myself the Executive Brewer for all CCBC locations. I based myself out of the Shirlington location which was the best brewery design of all the Cap City locations (if I do say so myself!). I also founded the Cap City Oktoberfest over ten years ago which is still running strong each fall season. I left CCBC after nine years to accept sweat equity in a small brewpub called Founders’ Restaurant and Brewing Company in Alexandria, Virginia. I lasted there for a year and left to pursue other interests. I was tapped by my current owner, Anthony Cavallo to restart the brewery of the former Thoroughbreds Brewing Company in Leesburg, Virginia now known as Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge where I currently brew and helped found the NOVAbrewfest that will be happening next weekend at Moraven Park in Leesburg, June 27th and 28th.

Holz: You currently brew for Vintage 50 in Leesburg; once Mad Fox opens do you still plan to brew for Vintage 50?

Bill: I will not be the day to day brewer at Vintage 50 once Mad Fox is in construction phase but V-50 hired Dean Lake who lives in Leesburg and has brewed at many breweries in the area including Old Dominion (RIP, very sad), Thoroughbreds (RIP but now V-50!), Rockbottom Ballston and Sweetwater Tavern Sterling. I will stay on at V-50 as an Executive Brewer and will check in periodically. There are some mutually beneficial business relations that will be maintained between V-50 and Mad Fox Brewing Company.

Holz: My site is dedicated to all things beer, one of which is my home brewing hobby, did you start out as a home brewer or did you jump straight into the big leagues?

Bill: I started as a home brewer and still maintain ties to the homebrew community since I am a member of the local home brew club BURP (Brewers United for Real Potables). My lovely wife, Beth, is the Editor of BURP’s monthly newsletter as well.

Holz: Are there any local brewpubs or beer bars that have inspired your Mad Fox brewpub concept?

Bill: No, really, the concept of Mad Fox Brewing Company is different from what is available in the DC metro area. We will be brewing our own beer and the restaurant will have a European Pub feel to it with a wooden bar and wood accents to soften the feel and atmosphere. The food will be locally sourced within reason and the focus will be pizzas, panini’s, salads and seasonally changing entrĂ©e offerings that the chef will have a major focus on to showcase his or her talents. There are great pizza places in this town and there are great beer places but no one to date has put the two together. I have seen this more on the West Coast than around the Mid Atlantic region.

Holz: By all accounts starting up a brewpub is an expensive process. To date, has raising capital been tough?

Bill: Raising capital started amazingly well in the spring of 2008 and then dried up in the fall with all the excitement we had on Wall Street. We put Mad Fox in hibernation until this spring when we were approached by the Landlord of the Spectrum property in Falls Church at 444 West Broad Street. The original tenant of the property had faltered financially and we had looked at this very spot the previous summer but were excluded by that very tenant for a competing menu item, pizza. Well, when the terms of the Letter of Intent were presented to Rick and me we realized that a bad economy presents some very good opportunities. Commercial real estate prices are way down, construction costs are down, stainless steel (brewery parts) are down and most contractors, architects and a host of others are competitive for your business. We presented the economic scenario and having a location changed our perception from an investor’s perspective and we are almost there on the first round of investment to start developing the location for Mad Fox.

Holz: Running a brewpub is about a lot more than just brewing great beer, unfortunately, are you also the brain behind the restaurant aspect of Mad Fox or are you working with a partner(s)?

Bill: I have a number of consultants from investors who are successful local restaurateurs to my current employer at Vintage 50, Anthony Cavallo, who is a consultant and has many years of restaurant experience running the former Blackies’ and Lulus’ restaurants. We will hire a General Manager and Chef which I have already had some very competent folks enquire about. I will oversee all operations but will focus on what I do best for Mad Fox and that is making beer.

Holz: The Mad Fox website details your intended beer offerings, 7-10 year-round offerings and a rotating selection with 20+ seasonals sounds pretty awesome, what size brewery are you working with and how often do you plan to brew in order to keep up with the aggressive selection of beers?

Bill: My plan for the beer at Mad Fox is to offer a lot of what I am known for and then add some new creations given that we plan for a large brewing system to support some limited off site sales. I will have my usual four core beers, Kolsch, malty middle beer (ESB, Amber etc.), hoppy middle beer ( IPA, APA etc.), dark offering ( Porter, Oatmeal Stout etc.), an ever changing Belgian style seasonal, Weizen year round, then all the rest will be seasonal along with my regulars like Wee Heavy and Stealth Beer like Molotov Hoptail etc. One thing I am excited to get into will be sour beers and other funk brews that I have been adverse to do given the tight quarters I have been in the last two breweries I have had to work in. Maybe some barrel aged fun is in the works as well. The brewing system will be determined by what we can find in the used market but I have a design in mind. I would like a 15 barrel system or one slightly larger with a fermentation capacity of at least 150 barrels to have a potential annual output of over 3000 barrels. The configuration will be similar to my old baby at Cap City in Shirlington.

Holz: Of the beers listed on your site, the Devils Due and Head Knocker look the most intriguing to me, what’s your favorite beer on the list and why?

Bill: The Devils Due is a Belgian style Strong Golden Ale, think Duvel, and it comes crashing in around 9% abv which has done some damage to our V-50 patrons. The Head Knocker was inspired by a trip to the UK and a sampling of Head Cracker from Woodfordes. It is an English style Golden Barley wine and it is divine on cask. My favorite beer on the list is a question I get all the time and it is hard to pick one child over another. I am proud to have an assortment of beers on tap that covers many bases for patrons coming to V-50 or any place I have worked and each beer is designed to please folks on many levels. To pick one I cannot since each beer I brew I put much effort in designing it to please. I can tell you one beer I brew each year that the patrons love but I have a hard time drinking a full pint of and that is Punkinator, my fall spiced pumpkin beer. I actually go through the trouble of picking the pumpkins at a local farm, Homestead Farms, who carry a heirloom varietal pumpkin called Cinderella. I core and roast the pumpkins and add 100 pounds to the mash. All that work and it is not my fave.

Holz: Which beer style do you enjoy brewing/drinking the most? The least?

Bill: I enjoy brewing all beers but some are more a labor of love like the Wee Heavy which is boiled for six hours to concentrate the wort and intensify the flavors. I enjoy most beers but am not a fan of many spiced beers like Punkinator mentioned above.

A big thanks to Bill for setting aside some time to answer my questions. I can't wait for Mad Fox to open. As mentioned by Bill, a reminder, the NOVA brewfest is this coming weekend at Moraven Park in Leesburg.

Stay Mad Like a Fox,


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Got Wood?

Well I decided to crack open one of the Old Woodie Ales that I bottled about 10 days ago and I've got wood ... serious oak flavor that is.

Look: Pours up an amber with major orange highlights. This beer has got junk in the trunk, lots of yeast settling down to the bottom of the glass. Fairly hazy, similar to a Hefe.

Smell: The brett really takes over the smell, major sweaty-horsey aroma. A perfumy oak characteristic manages to slip in there as well.

Drink: Brett and sour funk upfront, no doubt. Earthy with lots of Oak flavor. Maltiness blends in with da funk through the middle. Hops bitterness and some acidity on the back end.

Actually, I am fairly content with my first foray into the world of wild yeasts. Next time, maybe back off the wood some and go with some American hops to add a little grapefruit to complement the funk and sourness.

Make sure to remind me and I'll bring some by next time I'm in your neighborhood, you won't find anything like this at your grocery store, that's for sure.

Stay Woody,


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Running for Beer

Well, I managed to finish the Lawyers Have Heart 10K this morning. I'm pretty sure this is the 5th time I've run it. As always it was a fun event for a great cause and a great way to fend off some of those lbs that all this fantastic beer drinking tends to put on.

Yesterday I managed to pick up the two lovely brews pictured above. You'd think being Scandinavian that they would both be blond, right? The one on the right by Nogne O looks dark as night and I can't wait to try both. A review will surely follow.

My pre-race routine usually involves abstaining from beer for about three days prior to the race, so needless to say I tapped into some homebrew this afternoon. I've still had the two on tap for some time now, the imp pils and the Holz Bastard. I decided to pour up some bastard. This one has changed quite a bit since I first tapped it. The hoppiness has faded to mostly straight forward bitterness and the malts have blended together somewhat. I also notice a note of sourness, not altogether displeasing, but it might mean I've got a little bit of a sanitation issue. Although Meg swears the sourness has been there since the beginning, so maybe its all in my head. Regardless, its still a good beer. I should kick both of the kegs pretty soon and I've got nothing fermenting. I want to brew a rye pale ale soon, but I keep getting sidelined with budget constraints. Oh well, I'm sure I'll just go ahead and buy the ingredients soon. After that I'd love to brew some sort of fall harvest ale (or maybe an Oktoberfest). Thoughts?

Keep running for beer,


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Old Woodie

Managed to set aside some time Sunday afternoon to bottle and create labels for my newest brew, Old Woodie Ale. Deemed the "weird beer" by my father in law after I explained to him the concept I was going for. I kind of like it, "weird beer", it feels good.

Old Woodie should be ready to drink in about two weeks, so no review yet, but I can explain what went into it. I stuck relatively closely to the grain and hop bill for a big English Style IPA, I even used English Ale Yeast. Here is where things get weird, I decided in addition to the English Ale yeast I tossed in some wild yeast (Brett) and I also added 1.5 ounces of oak chips (I've used the cubes before, but never the chips, curious to see the flavor it imparts) and let the whole thing sit for close to six months. The ABV came out at 7.6%. So my beer is some sort of Old Ale-English IPA-Wild Ale Hybrid, consequently THE WEIRD BEER.

Stay weird,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Baltic Porter Review

Opened a homebrewed Baltic Porter ("Blackheart") tonight that I bottled last year on April 6th and I wanted to see how it held up with one year plus of age under the belt. A couple of quick specs on the Balt-Port, 8.5% ABV, brewed with California Lager Yeast fermented at room temps, and German Tradition hops for flavor and aroma. Here goes in HolzBrew LSD (not the drugs, but look, smell, drink) review fashion:

Look: As you can see above from the shoddy cell phone picture, this mother is dark as night. No sunlight penetrates it's murky depths. An average-sized deep tan lacing clings to the side of the glass.

Smell: Major maple, caramel, and toffee aroma, not much in the way of hop aroma

Drink: Lots of flavors up front, coffee, toasty malts, a little chocolate, caramel, and even a little, dare I say, root beer flavor. Hop bitterness jumps in through the middle and back end to help round this off the palate and avoid a cloying sweet after taste. No major flavor from the hops other than some needed bitterness to balance out the malt. Stickiness on the lips.

I don't rate my own beers on the academic scale, but I enjoyed this one all the way through. I've got one 12oz. and a 22oz. of this batch left, not sure if it will make it another year.

Don't forget about the big dark beers during the summertime.

Once you go black...