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Homebrewers turn dream into reality in Stafford County

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Adventure Brewing Company co-owners Stan Johnson (left) and Tim Bornholtz measure the alcohol content of one of their brews as they prep their Stafford County brewery for opening day in mid-May. / Photo by Peter Cihelka

Adventure Brewing Company co-owners Stan Johnson (left) and Tim Bornholtz measure the alcohol content of one of their brews as they prep their Stafford County brewery for opening day in mid-May. / Photo by Peter Cihelka

RELATED: Visit the Brews in the ‘Burg blog and its facebook page.

It’s not uncommon for a group of homebrewers to describe over a few rounds of beer their dreams of one day opening a brewery.

But most admit—at least among themselves—it’s just a dream.

That wasn’t the case for Tim Bornholtz, Stan Johnson and John Viarella, though. They’re getting the final work done to open Adventure Brewing Company at 33 Perchwood Drive in Stafford County in mid-May.

All three partners are longtime area residents and knew they wanted their micro-brewery to be on their home turf. They said they looked at several locations in Stafford and Fredericksburg to seek out that perfect combination of a space suitable for brewing beer (something industrial) and able to accommodate retail (it needs plenty of parking).

The space they found off U.S. 1 is perfect, they said, but it was just a shell. Since receiving their permits, they’ve been furiously working to get the micro-brewery in shape—not to mention brewing thousands of gallons of beer.

Adventure Brewing Co. co-owners Bornholtz (left) and Stan Johnson mill barley for one of their micro-brews.

Adventure Brewing Co. co-owners Bornholtz (left) and Stan Johnson mill barley for one of their micro-brews.

“It gives us tons of room to grow up and out,” Bornholtz said. “We can make it our own, grow it into something really cool.”

They are working to tie in several local aspects into the brewery itself, as well as the beer. For example, the 32-foot-long bar top is made from a 200-year-old tree that stood next to the Stafford Courthouse until it fell six years ago. Someone preserved the wood and stored it. The guys found out about it, and bought it to make their bar.

When they open next month, they’ll have four initial year-round beers:

Super Power Pale Ale

Expedition IPA

Backpack Wheat

Stiletto Stout.

Bornholtz sands the bar top, which was made from a Stafford County tree, in preparation for the brewery’s opening off U.S. 1.

Bornholtz sands the bar top, which was made from a Stafford County tree, in preparation for the brewery’s opening off U.S. 1.

They’re also working on a handful of limited-release and seasonal brews, such as an Oktoberfest beer and a grapefruit wheat.

When they were learning about the brewing history of Stafford, they worked with someone at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Bornholtz was working on a nut brown ale this week and considered naming it after the project—something like “Bookworm Brown.”

He said they want to make their beers very approachable, with flavors that won’t punch you in the face. The goal, he said, is to always maintain “approachable beers.”

They plan to open with their tasting room and eventually branch out to getting their beers into local bars and then canning or bottling.

But before they do that, they want to make sure they can handle the volume a micro-brewery will bring. Even brewing on a larger scale is a challenge.

“We’re learning as we grow from 10 gallons to 100 gallons,” Bornholtz said.

The trio has been homebrewing since the 1990s, but only came together over the past few years.

Bornholtz said he thought he’d be able to get the microbrewery up and running in a matter of months, but was proved wrong when he started the process of getting all the permits and doing the work.

“I knew it would be hard, but I never thought it would be this hard,” Viarella said.

But the entire time they were planning, they were perfecting their brewing skills. They said that every brewer faces the need to make consistently good beer. “We spent a long time brewing the same batch again and again,” Johnson said.

All three agreed that it forced them to hone their skills.

Though they still have full-time jobs, which they plan to keep, they put every spare minute into getting Adventure Brewing ready.

They want to help make the Fredericksburg area a tourist destination for beer lovers. Along with Adventure Brewing, Spencer Devon Brewing is expected to open in downtown Fredericksburg, and Rusty Beaver Brewery, already open in Caroline County is expanding to Spotsylvania County. The veteran of the bunch, Blue & Gray Brewing Co. in Spotsylvania, has been open for about 12 years

Adventure Brewing won’t serve food, but they hope to attract food trucks to feed their customers.

Bornholtz said the local brewers all support each other, and they consider themselves friendly competitors.

“As long as everyone’s making good beer, we can build on each other’s successes.”

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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