Cyndi and Scott Hoffman, owners of Ono Brewing in Chantilly, VA, in front of their self-service tap system
By Phil Galewitz
If anything can make you really thirsty it’s a visit to the spacious Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, about 30 miles outside Washington DC. Opened in 2003, its two huge hangers house the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Concorde, the Enola Gay plane that dropped the first atomic bomb and hundreds of other historic aircraft. Thankfully, there’s a wonderful new brewery less than a 10 minute drive away from the aviation museum that borders Dulles International Airport. Ono Brewing opened last fall in a small industrial park at 4520 Daly Drive with a broad array of fresh beers and speedy service. https://www.onobrewco.com/
How speedy? Ono Brewing has a self-service taproom.
After checking in at the counter, you swap a credit card for a special RFID card that has a magnetic reader on the back. Then all you do is walk over to the wall of beers and pick which one you want. Then you choose the size glass, set your RFID card on the LCD screen above and pull the tap handle. The system then bills your credit card per each ounce you pour. For a guy like me, who loves sample sizes, it’s perfect. Owners Scott and Cyndi Hoffman said the automated taps help them better track which beers are selling best and reduces waste. “When we saw the self-serve concept at a wine store we knew this is where we had to go,” said Scott, an engineer by training.
Ono means “delicious” in Hawaiian. The couple spent time Hawaii and wanted to bring some of that flip-flop and tiki bar vibe to their brewery. That includes walls lined with beach pictures and Jimmy Buffet playing on the sound system. Scott served in the Army and was at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Cyndi’s mother was born and raised in Hawaii.
Ono includes three 30-bbl fermenters. Some of their top offerings include Paradise Pineapple IPA, a 6% Saison infused with Dole pineapple juice, Beach Bum, an American wheat ale, Shaka, a wheat ale infused with grapefruit juice and Mango White Ale infused with real mangos. Though it was a bitter cold day on my first visit, these island-themed brews had me looking forward to spring and summer. Speaking of warmer days, Ono has a few tables outside the taproom perfect to enjoy the outdoors with your kids or dog.
“Our plan is to have drinkable beers that run the full spectrum,” Scott said. “It’s not just about the beer but about the environment and we wanted a place people would come to hang out for a couple hours,” he said. Cyndi, who has worked as a high school biology teacher, said she and Scott were always hosting parties with neighbors and friends so running a taproom and brewery feels right to them. “We are adventurous people and always seem to have that 5-year itch to try something new,” she said. The couple, both 44, decided to form the brewery instead of taking a corporate location back to Florida. Residents and visitors to western Fairfax County are glad they did.
In other news…
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, DE is bringing back its Wood-Aged Bitches Brew. The 2018 version is aged and blended in giant oak and Palo Santo wood tanks where it develops vanilla, chocolatey-licorice wood aromas with a sweet, roasty, coffee flavor finish. Brewed as an homage to Miles Davis’ 1970 landmark jazz-rock record, Bitches Brew is a fusion of three threads of imperial stout aged on oak and one thread of Tej, a native African honey beer, aged on Palo Santo. “We thought wood-aging it in our massive 10,000 gallon oak and Palo tanks would be the perfect innovative complement to a beer that was inspired by a culturally transformative record born out of a union of rock and roll and jazz,” said Sam Calagione, founder and CEO of Dogfish Head. Wood-Aged Bitches Brew clocks in at 9% and is available year-round in 6-pack/12-oz bottles.
Even by its own standards, Dogfish Head’s It’s the End of the Wort as We Know It is one of the most unusual brews ever. The beer includes a complex mix of nutrient packed superfoods that turn it into a Survival Beer. The beer contains eight times the amount of Vitamin B Complex compared to a typical lager and has 90 percent of daily-recommended serving of folic acid. To make this ale, Dogfish blended an intensely fruity mixture of blueberries, acai and goji berries along with an assortment of ingredients including purple sweet potatoes, rosehips, chia seed, flax seed, spelt, oats and quinoa. Although Dogfish is not making any health claims about the beer, this medium-bodied 9% beer with with lightly tart and subtly sweet with jammy blueberry, cranberry and cherry flavors should earn a place in your survival bunker. Unfortunately, Dogfish only made a couple hundred 750-ml bottles.
The 14th annual DC Brewer’s Ball is set for Saturday, March 3 at the National Building Museum. The fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation includes a plethora of Mid-Atlantic breweries and other national favorites. Tickets start at $150.
Port City Brewing in Alexandria, VA, is the latest area brewer to set up its own brew membership club offering special perks. Port City Porters Union is limited to just 100 members and dues start at $150. But quicker than you can down a Port City Porter, they sold out.
Heavy Seas Beer in Baltimore welcomes back its winter favorite, Siren Noire, an Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels. This year, the brewery will offer it in 4-packs of 12-oz bottles instead of 22-oz bomber bottles. The rich chocolate stout is 9.5% of vanilla and chocolate deliciousness.
DC Brau has made its first barleywine and it’s called Sleeping Standing Up. The 10% English-style brew is only available at the brewery. It was aged in whiskey barrels for three months and head brewmaster Jeff Hancock said it boasts flavors of marmalade, candied orange and dry fruit cake.
Old Bust Head Brewing in Warrenton, VA, has produced its 2 millionth bottle of beer and released Table Talk, a Belgian style wit. The beer that’s being sold in bottles and on draft includes packaging that honors their home county’s namesake Francis Fauquier. Francis lost his family inheritance over a game of poker, (complete with rousing table talk), but gained himself a spot as the governor of Virginia —and now we have some great beer!
In Manassas, VA, on the site of an old dairy barn, 2 Silos Brewing and Farm Brew Live has opened one of the biggest and most ambitious farm breweries in the region. The 8-acre site includes a brewery, live music venue and restaurant surrounded by hiking trails. The brewer has a tasting room that can hold 175 people. In addition to five flagship beers – cream ale, Belgian white, black IPA, pale ale and imperial stout – 2 Silos will offer seasonal options, using pumpkins, blueberries and hops grown on site. The Villagio Hospitality Group that’s put together the destination brewery has many cool features but none cooler than igloos that are adjacent to the brewery and can accommodate eight guests for two hours and include their own server. And yes, the 12-ft domes are heated. http://farmbrewlive.com/igloos/
A brewery with a heated igloo!