For U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate Casey Jones, 45, brewing beer is a passion he has fostered for about a third of his life. “I have been into beer ever since I was legal to drink it,” he said. “And I have been making my own since at least 1999.”
This summer, Jones will open Fairfax County’s first packaging brewery, which he says will provide local restaurants and bars with an original hand-crafted variety of both annual and seasonal elixirs.
“We plan on providing at least four annual beers that we will make all year long,” said the Falls Church resident. “We will have an Indian pale ale, a pale ale, a red and a kolsch, which is like lighter beer almost like a light ale. In addition we plan to put out a variety of seasonal beers such as an apple strudel tripel beer, which is like a dessert pale ale. That’s something that my master brewer has produced before in Michigan. ”
Jones and his master brewer, Todd Parker, have successfully raised $1.4 million for their endeavor and are currently scouting out a location in the Mosaic area of Merrifield. Jones estimates that it will cost about $2 million total to start his dream business.
“Fairfax County is where we want to be and has been very receptive. We were able to raise $1.4 million in just 90 days,” said Jones. “I put in a bid on a brewpub in Camden, Maine, and didn’t get it, so I decided instead to build my own, right here in my own back yard.”
The packaging brewery will be called Fair Winds Brewing Co. and, according to Jones, the difference between it and other county-based brewpubs — such as Sweetwater Tavern — is that it will sell its packaged beers to other facilities where it will be served on tap. He says he is excited to be able to produce a true Fairfax County beer that will be consumed throughout the area.
“A packaging brewery, as opposed to a brewpub, brews beer to be consumed on others’ premises,” he said. “However, we will also have our own tasting room thanks to [Senate Bill] 604, a new Virginia law that now allows breweries to sell beer by the glass without an accompanying full service restaurant.”
In addition to the “tasting room” Jones said Fair Winds will utilize a 30 beer barrel system, each one capable of producing 31 U.S. gallons. “That will enable us to make 930 gallons of beer per production run,” he said. “I live here in Fairfax County, one of the most affluent counties in the country, but where there really is no local Fairfax beer on tap. We plan to start hyperlocal in this locavore environment where so many people try to eat and drink locally. I think we can help them to move away from mass-produced beers from other places and enjoy our high-quality local offerings.”
According to Jones, the name Fair Winds was not the brewery’s first name choice.
“We originally were going to call ourselves ‘Topsail’ because that is the most important sail on a square-rigger ship, but we were challenged by an Oregon brewery who apparently laid claim to any beer with the word ‘sail’ in it. So instead of feeding $50,000 to attorneys trying to defend that name, we went with ‘Fair Winds,’ which comes from a phrase sailors share when they part ways; ‘May you have fair winds and following seas.’”
Jones says what’s really important is that the brewery maintain a nautical theme.
“I have a background in the Coast Guard and Todd has a master’s degree in marine biology, so that is important to both of us. And I also view brewing as a crew effort, much like sailing,” he said. “Sailing and brewing are also two things that we both love.” For more information about Fair Winds Brewing Co. go to www.fairwindsbrewing.com.