Friday, October 30, 2009

Mad Fox constuction details

I met up with Brewer Bill Madden at the Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest. I asked him about progress on his soon to be built brewpub, Mad Fox Brewing Company.

Mad Fox brewer/owner Bill Madden

Most of the equipment has been sourced: in addition to a 15-barrel brewhouse,there will be several 30-barrel fermenters, double jacketed so that both 15-barrel and 30-barrel batches can be brewed. Serving tanks will be sized at 15 bbl to allow batches to be split in two to help ensure freshness. To afford him flexibility in serving different beers, Bill is purchasing a large volume of kegs. If a tank is needed to ferment or serve a beer, Bill can simply rack the remaining finished beer into the kegs. He'll need to do that, because he plans to have at least 12 beers on tap at any given time.

Coming soon: Mad Fox (3)

As for the cask ale ...

Bill plans to have 5 cask ales tapped at any one time, using a set-up somewhat similar to that at Churchkey (beer bar in Washington, DC) ... except of course, the beer will be made fresh at the brewery. Firkins will rest in refrigerated units under the bar, the temperature set in the low to mid 50s, traditional English cellar temperature. A row of beer engines will sit above, used to handpump the beer to the bar.

Tapping a firkin (4)

Bill is currently working on the paperwork and planning details, one ear to the phone, two hands on the laptop. Construction begins in January 2010, and Bill says he can't wait. Many thirsty northern Virginia good beer fans would agree.
  • The term' brewhouse' refers to the kit of vessels on the 'hot' side of the brewery, i.e., used to brew the beer: mash tun, lauter tun, kettle, whirlpool, wort chiller, hot and cold liquor (water) tanks. Vessels are often designed to combine several of these functions. The fermenters and serving tanks comprise the 'cold' side of the brewery.
  • A barrel doesn't exist as an actual container. It's a measure of volume: 31 gallons. More on beer volumes here.
  • A firkin is the name given to one particular size of cask: 9 UK gallons, which is the equivalent of 10.8 US gallons. More on cask volumes here.
  • The photo of Bill Madden is reprinted above courtesy of local beer maven Chuck Triplett.
  • Prior stories on Mad Fox here and here and here and here.


  1. Can't wait for the Fox to open! It looks like Bill has got his system down.

  2. He also brought the floor plan to the festival on Saturday, but it got a little soggy...


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