“We’re Harrisonburg guys opening a Harrisonburg brewery,” says Tim Brady, who got his start in 2002 as the assistant brewer at Calhoun’s (gone, but not forgotten) and then worked local and regional accounts for the craft beer distributor Specialty Beverage.
The other Harrisonburg guy in the Pale Fire equation, Jamie Long, started homebrewing during his sophomore year at JMU. He liked it so much that he ended up scrapping his law school plans and went to brewing school (at Chicago’s famous Siebel Institute) instead. Next came an internship at Starr Hill in Charlottesville, and later, a lead brewing job at Flying Dog in Frederick, Md.
“The amazing community in downtown Harrisonburg was too much to resist for so long, so I came back,” says Long.
Brady’s job with the distributor took him all over the western part of the state. There’s other hotspots out there, but none, in his professional experience, that rival Harrisonburg. “All the local establishments offer great selections and the residents here are über-educated and passionate,” he says. “That community is what really feeds my excitement.”
It’s hard these days to be more than a block away from a good beer downtown. The fourth Rocktown Beer Festival is later this month and a Blue Ridge Outdoors poll named this its 2013 Best Beer Town. It’s a culture that began with our restaurants and specialty stores, has thrown its full weight behind our first brewery, Three Brothers Brewing, and now is set to make Harrisonburg a true beer destination with multiple breweries.
“Beer tourism is a very real thing these days,” says Brady. “Three Brothers has already done an amazing job with their beers and bringing attention and people to Harrisonburg… and we look forward to adding to the draw. The two breweries together will be much more enticing for out-of-towners than either would be on its own.”
Brady and Long are planning a tasting room for the pints and growlers thing, and they’ll bottle two standard-issue, year-round beers. They’ll branch out with their seasonal stuff. Probably expect, Long says, several “hop-forward American styles.” The beer names remain a secret. (OSH has a few suggestions: Ice House, Bocktown, Duck Stout, Olde Southe Hygh Browne Ale, etc. etc.)
“We are excited to join the creative and inspiring collection of breweries and restaurants around the Valley and hope to work with them on future projects,” says Long. “The support so far from everyone has been overwhelming.”
If you love beer and you live in Harrisonburg, the grass is not greener on the other side. The good beer thing we have going is getting more and merrier.