By Jake Endres, Co-founder
Last month, we celebrated our seven year anniversary since opening the doors (door) to our Leesburg nanobrewery on July 18th, 2013. Obviously, these are not normal times, so safety and distancing was our number one concern. Thanks to our friends at Veteran Draft, we had a tap trailer and enough jockey boxes to make both Sterling and Leesburg nearly entirely outdoors, with greatly increased outdoor tables and chairs spread far out.
The event went very well and I think our releases were well received. A huge thank you to everyone who could attend. It was definitely a different anniversary party from years past, where we were absolutely packed and I saw all the familiar faces of you great folks I've gotten to know over the years. All things considered, we felt it was a great success, and quite honestly we're a bit relieved to be done with it.
Seven years is a long time. When we started, I had no idea how long we would last. Going on eight years now, I know we aren't disappearing any time soon, but for those early years it was all up in the air. Every day was a challenge as we worked to bootstrap from a 1.5 BBL hole in the wall to the sprawling location in Sterling we have today. I definitely cannot say it was easy or entirely enjoyable, but being here now brings me great joy and feeling of accomplishment.
We've covered a lot of ground over these years. Here are some of my favorite moments:
2013: Opening day on July 18th with two beers, a Belgian single and an English pale. Still good beers!
2014: Releasing our first sour/mixed ferm beers, a Berliner weisse and a 100% Brett pale ale. I don't know of anyone in Virginia brewing those styles at the time. People were definitely not ready for them. But the groundwork for what we are doing now was always there.
2015: Releasing our very first collab beer. It was with a saison we brewed with Ocelot made with grapefruit and Galaxy hops. Some of our favorite folks!
2016: A big one, winning gold at World Beer Cup for our saison, Supernatural. We were still a nano back then and to win this award brewing on such a small scale felt really good.
Pouring at our first two higher end festivals, Brothers' Resolute Day and Aslin One Year Anniversary. We were so excited to be invited to both of these. There were so many festivals back then and these were some of the first ones to emerge as something special in VA.
2017: Opening Sterling on February 17th. This was the culmination of four months of nonstop work, nearly every waking hour. It was a great feeling, but the real work was just beginning!
Sending our first beer to Churchkey. It was a long dream of mine to see our beer on tap at the crown jewel of D.C. beer bars. Since then we've done several events with Greg and the NRG team, big thanks for the support and believing in us!
2018: Pouring at Wakefest/Southern Grist Anniversary parties. We make some nice beers but we are often times the least known brewery at some of these events. It was crazy to be in the midst of so many big names--Jeppe from Evil Twin was freaking out over our coolship cuvee.
2019: Launching Native Culture, our mixed fermentation sub-brand. We were always in awe of breweries like Oxbow, Allagash, Jester King, and other American breweries who were releasing these incredible mixed ferm beers, many all spontaneously fermented. To date, we've released four coolship beers and over a dozen mixed ferm saisons and sours. They're some of the best beers we make.
Tying in with this, we also had a tap takeover at Sovereign featuring seven Native Culture beers. It was a great event but I only began to realize how big of a deal it was afterwards. Sovereign doesn't do a lot of events featuring U.S. breweries, so this was quite the honor.
2020: Pouring at the Maine Brewers' Guild Festival. I was in Nashville at Southern Grist for their anniversary but half our crew headed up to Portland, ME, to pour as a guest of Barreled Souls. The Maine beer scene is phenomenal and being a part of that was awesome.
Making it through the lockdown. Aside from some hour cuts, we were able to keep everyone at 100% wages and pivot to selling cans. The pandemic is far from over but we've managed to take care of our team as best as we can. Thanks to everyone for supporting us through these trying times.
Provided we can continue to operate, I am excited about the future. We are weighing a few project options right now and hopefully we'll use the inevitable winter slowdown to get a jump on some of the things we've always wanted to work on.
I'm so happy to be here working with such a great crew of people after these years, and for the tremendous support and real friendships I've made along the way. Here's to many more sunny days and beers on the patio