At a recent inaugural screening of From Grain to Growler, an otherwise fine documentary on the history of 'craft' beer in Virginia, I was surprised by two omissions.
The film failed to mention Chesbay of Virginia Beach, the very first microbrewery ever in Virginia (they weren't called 'craft' breweries back then), ahead of its time, operating from 1984-1988.
And, it ignored the Old Dominion Brewing Company. Jerry Bailey —who left a job in the U.S. government to follow his brewing dream— opened the brewery, in 1989, in Ashburn, Virginia.
Quickly growing to become Virginia's largest 'craft' brewery, Dominion would put Virginia on the 'craft' beer map: garnering multiple awards, producing large volumes (for the time), creating emulated standards of good 'craft' brewing practices, and establishing a model for distribution over a multi-state area by utilizing 'big' brewery wholesalers, which was a new thing for the times.
Many of the brewers there have gone on to other breweries, some their own. John Mallett (Bell's Brewery), Ron Barchet (Victory Brewing), Favio Garcia (Lost Rhino Brewery), Kenny Allen (Old Ox Brewery), Rob Mullin (Grand Teton Brewing), and Scott Zetterstrom, Chris Frazier, and Dean Lake, to name a few.
Bailey would relinquished the brewery in March 2007. Two years later, in 2009, the brewery was moved to Dover, Delaware. This year, the company reaches its twenty-fifth year of operations. And, that's a major milestone for Delaware and Virginia.
The brewery will be celebrating with a party and special beer release, Wednesday evening, 17 September, at Churchkey, in Washington, D.C. Here's the press release from Fordham and Dominion Brewing.
Dover, Delaware – It was 25 years ago that Jerry Bailey and friends started their brewing adventure inside a small industrial park in Ashburn, Virginia. Since 1989, Dominion has grown from its core lineup of traditional ales and lagers to gourmet sodas, and its newly released award-winning Pinup Series. Not only that, but a partnership with Fordham Brewing in 2007 and a brewery move to Dover, Delaware, in 2009, set it on an exciting, yet uncharted course.
To celebrate its 25th year, Dominion will be releasing “The Dream”. This Black India Pale Lager named after the brewery's tagline, “Livin the Dream”, pays homage to the hard work, passion, and effort it takes to operate a small brewery. The Dream is a nod to Dominion’s lager brewing roots without compromising their love and affection for hops. A rich, robust malt foundation balanced by a righteous blend of Sorachi Ace, Citra, and Columbus hops showcasing melon, tropical fruit, lemon, and licorice notes.
“You only celebrate 25 years once,” said Dominion Brewing’s Vice-President of Sales, Casey Hollingsworth. “So, when we brainstormed at the brewery about beer styles, we knew it had to be a beer with immense character and nuance. Brewing a beer style with no real reference point brings a unique set of challenges,” he said, “but it’s always important to move beyond boundaries.
“We are so grateful to all our supporters to be able to celebrate 25 years in this truly amazing industry, Hollingsworth said, an industry filled with a strong sense of community, purpose, passion, and pride.”
The release date will coincide with Dominion’s 25th Anniversary party, at Churchkey, located at 1337 14th St, N.W. Washington, D.C., September 17th, 2014, at 6PM. Joining Dominion for the festivities will be the retired founder of Old Dominion Brewing, Jerry Bailey, along with friends from Lost Rhino Brewing Co. (Virginia), Victory Brewing Co. (Pennsylvania), Starr Hill Brewing Co. (Virginia), Lagunitas Brewing Co. (California), Bell’s Brewery (Michigan), and Mad Fox Brewing Co. (Virginia).
Dominion's founder Jerry Bailey never quite received a proper farewell and thanks. Now's the opportunity to thank him, a true 'craft' beer pioneer of Virginia (and of the greater Washington, D.C. area). Now living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bailey will fly down to celebrate the milestone with his successors: Bill Muehlhauser, Jim Lutz, and Casey Hollingsworth. And, to put froth on the pint, several of Dominion's brewers from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, near and far, are also expected to join the current brew staff for this jubilee. The list is currently being created; RSVPs are being answered. The evening may indeed become a convocation of some of the glitterati of our Virginia (and national) 'craft' brewing history.
Pictured, at the celebration at Churchkey, on 17 September 2014, l-r:
- Mark Thompson (Starr Hill Brewery, Virginia);
- Ron Barchet (Victory Brewing, Pennsylvania);
- Kenny Allen (Old Ox Brewery, Virginia);
- Mike Graham (Virginia);
- Bernie Van Order (Lagunitas Brewing, California);
- Jerry Bailey (past, and founding owner, Dominion Brewing);
- Favio Garcia (Lost Rhino Brewing, Virginia).
- This post has been edited since its initial publication.
- "Based on shared values and a common philosophy of quality brewing, Fordham Brewing & Dominion Brewing joined forces in 2007 and consolidated operations in 2009. The First State is now home to the Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co., where beer lovers from near and far are able to stop by, get to know us, and enjoy our handcrafted beer and soda. Our roots run deep throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and we remain dedicated to our craft. Throughout our history, we have always believed in two things: the beer we make and the people who drink it. For more information, visit fordhamanddominion.com."
- Thank you to Casey Hollingsworth of Dominion/Fordham for notice of this special event, and an invitation.
- Follow Fordham and Dominion Brewery on