Fair Winds Brewing - New Brewery Review
The hubby and I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Fair Winds Brewing all the way back to when it was going to be called Topsail and be in our backyard out in Merrifield. Alas, a name change, a location change, and some time later, we finally found ourselves sitting in their shiny new taproom down in Lorton. I should say, it took way less time than I thought it would to get there, being just a couple exits down I-95. Turns out Lorton and Haymarket are not only in different directions, but also vastly different distances from the “mainland” inside the Beltway.
Fair Winds opened their taproom on Wednesday, but we waited until the snow cleared and headed down on Saturday afternoon. The taproom itself was a cool environment – a horseshoe shaped bar with two enormous pass-thru tap towers (which tells me to expect big variety from these guys in the future), homey looking wood tables dispersed throughout, and giant windows along one side that give a full view into the brewery. They also had two food trucks out front that were willing to run food into the taproom for you.
But on to the important things: the beer. For opening, Fair Winds had four beers on tap. Obviously, we went with the sampler so we could try them all. We knew to expect great things, with Charlie Beuttner (formerly of Mad Fox) being head brewer, and the beer did not disappoint. First up was the Quayside Kolsch. I’m not much of a kolsch girl, so this one was “good in a kolsch way” to me – light, crisp, just a hint of biscuitiness (is that a word?). Next up was the Following Cs Pale Ale, which smelled amazing. Great hop aroma turned into a gorgeous dankness in the taste. Eric said he could really taste the Crystal malt coming through, giving it a good malt backbone under those resiny hops. Third was a unique offering – a “Belgian inspired Red Ale” called Running Light Red. We were both skeptical of this one, seeing the malt of a red paired up with a Belgian yeast strain…but man was it niiiiice. The banana/clove yeast character balanced out the malt roast in a really good way for me, and even Eric had to admit he had found a red he liked. Last but not least was the West-Coast style IPA, Howling Gale IPA. Did we save the best for last? If you like hops, then that answer is a resounding yes. A well-balanced IPA with loads of hops coating the tongue like a good west coast IPA and giving that beautiful tropical, bright smell and feel. I couldn’t get enough of this one, so naturally, we stayed for a couple more pints before heading home. All in all, a strong starting line-up from Fair Winds that already has me wanting more.
One last thing I should mention, and one of our favorite things about Fair Winds was how at home they have made homebrewers feel. There’s a full view of the brewery right from your chair, lots of information about the brewing ingredients, beer magazines lying about, and the brewers were right there with the crowd, talking and drinking and celebrating the opening. I look forward to watching Fair Winds grow, and to bringing their beer into The Brew Shop!