As I continue to spend the off-season roaming the wilds of Virginia, I have thoroughly enjoyed acquainting myself with some of the breweries down here. One amazing brewery has been the BadWolf Brewery, located in Manassas. On my visit, I was able to try some beer and see their set-up…and owners Sarah and Jeremy Meyers were kind enough to sit down with me for a follow-up chat!
Like Ed, Jeremy started as a homebrewer. Friends joked that he should start his own brewery, but he “laughed it off” until 2009, when his wife Sarah enrolled in an entrepreneurial course. The course’s final project entailed submitting a business plan. Together, Sarah and Jeremy put together plans for a brewpub. To cap it all off, Jeremy brewed some beer for the presentation.
Needless to say, it was a runaway success. Besides the well-deserved A, they received much interest from fellow students and entrepreneurs.
And then, a case of impeccable timing:
Previously, Virginia law only permitted restaurants to sell their beer. But then, on July 1, 2012, a new law was introduced, under which “…brewers [would] be able to operate more like a Virginia farm winery, with on- and off-premises sales privileges combined into the brewery license” (Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control).
Under the new law, BadWolf no longer had to be a restaurant. It could brew, sell, and serve beer as a brewery.
Doors opened on June 19, 2013. Sarah and Jeremy recall lines stretching across the parking lot. When I ask about the challenges they faced in those early months, Sarah laughs. “We kept running out of beer.”
“We really had to budget our beer,” Jeremy adds. “We didn’t anticipate the demand—we went from brewing two times per week to five times.”
And I’m very glad that they’ve built up their stocks of beer. In many ways, it is quite similar to the beer we make at the Black Creek Historic Brewery. BadWolf is a “green brewery” (no extracts) and only 1.5 barrels are brewed at a time. Each keg in the back is shaken by hand to encourage carbonation. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized (no wonder it tasted so familiar!).
And like Black Creek, BadWolf is focused on quality.
“There’s a growing minority who go after beer the same way people go after wine or coffee,” Sarah says.
They also discussed the advantages of breweries that are actually owned by the brewers. When brewers are owners, they know their product in an incredibly intimate way, from concept to aftertaste. “If I have a subpar beer,” Jeremy says. “I’m not going to put it out just because I want to sell beer. If it’s unsatisfying, I’ll dump it.”
It’s an exciting time for BadWolf in general, because Virginia’s craft beer scene is just starting to take off, thanks in part to the aforementioned law change. And where does BadWolf fit in this burgeoning scene?
“We make good beer,” Jeremy says. While BadWolf has plans for expansion, their focus remains on high-quality ingredients, superb recipes, and a high-quality product.
And the take-home message for beer-drinkers up in Ontario?
I know I’ll be back! In the meantime, tune in next post for my take on the beers I sampled.
For more information:
9776 Center St.,
Manassas, VA 20110