Breweries Across Virginia Collaborate at Old Ox

Six breweries from as far away as Charlottesville and Williamsburg came together for a collaboration brew hosted at Old Ox Brewery on Friday.

Brewers from Fair Winds Brewing in Lorton, 2 Silos Brewing in Manassas, Old Bust Head Brewing in Vint Hill, Three Notch’d Brewing in Charlottesville and The Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg met at Old Ox to make Collaborator, a Doppelbock described as “a full-bodied, malt-forward beer with a creamy head and smooth finish. The Munich Malts deliver toasty notes with hints of caramel and chocolate.”

Collaborator will spend eight weeks in the Old Ox tanks before being distributed to the participating breweries in cans and kegs.

The name and beer also pay homage to the people who brewed the first Doppelbock, the Paulaner Friars, Franciscan brewing monks in Munich. That beer was called Salvator; Old Ox cofounder Chris Burns said ever since, it has been a tradition to give Doppelbocks names that end in -ator. And he said they’re seeking to bring attention to the style.

“There’s no better way to raise awareness than really try to honor that history,” he said.

The collaboration began with conversations at brewer conferences—first at the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis, MN, in May, then at the Virginia Craft Beer Cup hosted at Old Ox in August. The breweries share the same distributor, Premium Distributors of Virginia. And Three Notch’d Brewing Company Brewmaster Dave Warwick said it reflects the families that local brewing communities create.

“I can’t go on Facebook without seeing some kind of representation of the brotherhood of Loudoun County brewers,” he said.

Old Ox Brewery cellarman Hayden Frey cleans spent grain used to make the new Collaborator Doppelbock from a tank at Old Ox. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

He said collaboration across the six breweries created a new family.

“You’ve got not only a regional demographic family that brings us together, but also the distribution family where we all have the same people out in the market fighting for our brands together, and looking out for us, so that definitely kind of brings us together as a side-family,” he said.

Old Bust Head Head Brewer Jay Bergantim said when he heard about a possible collaboration with five other breweries, he said “the more the merrier.”

“For me, it’s an opportunity to meet all of you guys, and it’s more of a collaboration not just in making the beer but also sharing ideas,” Bergantim said.

The Virginia Beer Co. co-founder Robby Willey said the collegiality of the brewing community was what drew him and his business partner, who he met at the College of William & Mary, away from their jobs in finance and into brewing in the first place.

“When we got together, we homebrewed, we drank craft beer, we visited breweries,” he said. “… I remember going to a brewery and seeing a bunch of people from brewery B and C hanging out at brewery A, and it was just like, man there’s nothing like that in finance.”

Hopefully, they say, it won’t be their last collaboration—the brewers plan to have at least five more, one at each brewery.

“There’s such energy that you get from seeing that cross-pollination of ideas, seeing how other people approach the same challenges that you face, but come up with really cool and different solutions,” Burns said.

Collaborator Doppelbock will be available in mid-October.

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