Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vintage 50 Brewpub opens in Leesburg

Bill with long-time fan of his beers
Congratulations are in order for Bill Madden and crew, who had a 'soft' opening of their new Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge yesterday.

50 Catoctin Circle NE, Leesburg, VA

It's the old Thoroughbreds Grille and brewpub (itself barely a year old when it ceased operations) so the decor, although adjusted to reflect the new name, is still quite classy with lots of dark wood and a beautiful tap system.

The beers are Kevin Kozaks' final brews from Thoroughbreds and are still in good shape: helles, pale ale, dark mild, cherry stout, IPA and imperial IPA. Licensing for brewing operations has been granted. Bill has wasted no time in beginning to fill his tanks; look for his brews soon. I tried a couple of appetizers which were quite tasty.

Bill was, for nearly a decade, the 'corporate brewmaster' for the Capitol City Brewery chain (2 in DC, 1 in Shirlington, VA, 1 in Baltimore; and other non-brewpub restaurants in the area). There, he won several medals for his beers at the Great American Beer Festival. Subsequently, for a brief time (2004-2005), he was a part-owner and brewmaster for Founders in Alexandria. That location ceased operations but Bill unable to improve systemic problems had left the management well before the pub's demise. (Sadly enough, 2 brewpubs have now failed in the same spot: the Virginia Beverage Comapny and then Founders.)

Favorites of fans of his oeuvre (such as Madonna, pictured with Bill at the soft opening on Monday evening; and there are many others in the DC area) are his Kolsch and his American Imperial IPA. Both, Bill says, will make their return at Vintage 50.

From Chuck Triplett who posts to and other beer sites:

Across town, Anthony Cavallo and Bill Madden are putting the final touches on Vintage 50 a restaurant/brewery the two men are preparing to open Nov. 6 in 50 Catoctin Circle. The brewery and restaurant will fill the restaurant space Thoroughbreds Grill previously occupied. Dinner will be served nightly starting at 4 p.m.

The restaurant will seat 100, which Cavallo said is "very small" in terms of restaurants but provides him and his staff the opportunity to be very customer oriented.

"We want people to come in and have a dialogue with us," he said. Dinner shouldn't be rushed, but should provide diners a chance to try different wines and beers with one of the 10 standard menu items or the special of the night.

The smaller menu, "allows us to do our menu items really well," Cavallo said, and, coupled with the restaurant size, enables the chef and sous chef to be the true cooks in the kitchen, rather than having line cooks make the meals, he added.

In addition to the nightly meals, Vintage 50 plans to hold wine dinners and beer dinners, special events that will allow diners to pare different drinks with foods to see which ones match.

"It's a good way for people to learn about wines," said Angie Bishop about the wine dinners.

The beer dinners will highlight the work of beer master Bill Madden who spent 10 years brewing for Capitol City Brewery in Washington, DC.

In addition to four core beers that will always be on tap, Madden said he plans to offer seasonal beers and other recipes he has found to be popular with customers.

"We want to get Leesburg involved with brewing some of these beers," he said, and wants to incorporate preferences into what he brews. Each batch he brews is the equivalent of 20 kegs of beer, he said.

Guests can sample a tapas-style menu in the bar area, American fare cuisine in the main dining room and specialty drinks and wine in addition to its brews throughout.

"Leesburg does not have that late-night feeling yet," Cavallo said. "My bar will not close until 1 a.m.," offering guests a smoke-free lounge that will serve a limited menu once dinner ends at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The entire restaurant is non-smoking; smoking will be permitted on the outdoor patio.

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