Ashburn’s Old Ox joins the brew crew that’s creating a new industry in Loudoun
Chris Burns, one of the owners of Ashburn's Old Ox Brewery, is happy to be one of a half-dozen or so new brewers set to move to Loudoun this year, and he's looking forward to seeing others open as well.
"Once you get 10 or 15 that's an industry," Burns said.
The common belief is that most craft breweries in the area will receive a boost from new beer businesses.
This weekend is the official grand opening event for Old Ox, a brewery planned for years.
Four years ago Burns went to breweries in the area and picked owners' brains for market research.
What he found out was a few guidelines that dictated the way he wanted to open his own brewery.
Initially he wanted to start small and grow his business, but after speaking with a number of brewery owners he decided to forgo starting small. Instead, he began with a 30-barrel system.
"If you start small you are always going to be playing catch up," said Burns, explaining he decided to overdo the system at first and build into it in lieu of worrying about expanding soon after he started.
Two years ago Burns, his father, wife and mother bought a used 30-barrel brewing system, good for 60 kegs, from Flying Fish, a New Jersey-based brewery looking to expand.
It took them 18 months from the time they bought the system to begin brewing. They first needed to find the industrial space they wanted.
The name Old Ox Brewery comes from Old Ox Road where Burns previously planned to build the brewery.
He also learned from the other breweries that marketing and branding were important.
One of the pitfalls Burns wanted to avoid was being a brewer who lost sight of important administration tasks.
Luckily he and members of his family who will help him run the brewery are familiar with the ins and outs of the branding businesses.
The original plan for making money had to be changed because of legislation in 2012 making it legal to sell pints without the requirement of also selling food.
This law allowed the brewery to remain locally-based and not rely on distribution as its main source of revenue.
The brewery has three core beers it will always run on tap – Alpha Ox, Golden Ox and Black Ox, as well a seasonal brew and occasionally an experimental beer.
Old Ox beers will be available locally at Delmarva, Alamo Drafthouse, World of Beer and Greene Turtle.
Distribution to restaurants and pubs is slated to begin in the next week or so, but the brew isn't going to hit grocery stores for another year in order for the company to build buzz.
Old Ox holds its grand opening in Ashburn this weekend with a mechanical ox, a photo booth, food stations, cornhole tournaments and kids activities like a moon bounce and face paintings.
Where: 44652 Guilford Drive, Ashburn
When: Saturday, July 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: 21 and over for $20 and $5 for people under 21 or designated drivers.