The D.C. area beer scene expansion continues: Fair Winds Brewing Co. plans to open a 30-barrel packaging brewery in Fairfax County next year.
The company, which is led by Fairfax resident Casey Jones, just raised $1.4 million in equity from investors, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The total cost of getting the brewery up and running is expected to be more than $2 million, Jones said. Fair Winds doesn’t have a site confirmed yet, but the company is bidding on property in Merrifield.
Although the Fairfax County area has several brewpubs — Sweetwater Tavern and Falls Church’s Mad Fox Brewing Co. among them — Fair Winds would be the county’s first packaging brewery. Brewpubs sell 75 percent of their beers in-house, while packaging breweries sell to other establishments
“I live in Fairfax, and it’s also one of the most affluent counties in the country,” he said. “We thought it was a great opportunity because in this locavore environment, there was really no local Fairfax beer on tap.”
Jones envisions a facility similar to Port City’s in Alexandria or D.C. Brau’s in the District. The brewery would be of a similar size and have an adjacent tasting room that could sell growlers and pints in addition to doing tastings.
He also hopes to be a springboard for avid home brewers. Fair Winds plans to host home-brewer contests where the public can vote among several home brewers’ recipes and the winner will have their beer made on a much larger scale than they can at home.
“Then they’ll be able to get feedback, much larger audience, we’ll give them the data from how it performs in our tasting room,” Jones said. The home brewer tie-in can also serve as the brewery’ s R&D: If a beer does well and a home brewer is interested in selling the recipe to Fair Winds, it could become part of its repertoire.
Jones has hired head brewer Todd Parker from Michigan to run the brewing operation. To start, Fair Winds will open with four house beers: an IPA, a pale ale, a red and a kolsch. Jones isn’t releasing the names yet because the brewery’s trademark application is still under review by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.
He’s particularly skittish because Fair Winds has already changed its name once. They originally launched as Topsail Brewing Co., but a challenge from an Oregon brewery made them change the name.
Jones didn’t have a hard time coming up with an alternative, however. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy grad knew he wanted something related to sailing in the brewery’s name, so Fair Winds was a natural fit.