A Great Place to Be

Picture yourself on a typical day. Maybe you’re tired since you’ve been punching the clock since before the sun came up. Or perhaps you’ve been running errands all day and your morning coffee wore off hours ago. You’re calling it a day, and your thoughts are now turned towards unwinding. You need a place where the people are friendly and the beer never stops flowing.

Then, like an island paradise appearing on the ocean horizon, you spot the standard of Brew Republic, proudly flying in the steady breeze – the green star calling to you and all the other wayward travelers within its grasp. You immediately get a sense of belonging and comfort, and the troubles of today instantly become tomorrow’s problems.

You abandon your car (with your neck tie and suit jacket still inside) in one of the pre-approved parking spots and you make your way to Brew Republic’s front door. A wall of glass stares you in the face, with flags and signs notifying you that you’re in the right place. You tip your hat to the satisfied citizens in the biergarten as you pass them by and enter the tap room.

As a regular patron, you’re instantly recognized and hailed by name by the friendly bartenders and other regulars. You feel like Norm Petersen for a moment, and wonder when Cliff and Frasier will be joining you for great beers and storytelling. You find your trusty stool at the bar and glance at the chalk board to see what beers are new today – although we all know you’re going to start with your favorite reliable brew of choice. The amber ale, perhaps?

You settle in and become involved in the conversation-du-jour at the bar with the bartenders and other citizens. You peek into the brewery and find the brewers finishing off the day’s kegging. Curious, you ask the bartender what glorious beer they are brewing today, and she tells you it is the Baltic porter, which reminds you that you were going to order that as your next beer. The tap room manager launches into a long-winded explanation as to the difference between a Baltic porter and other types of porters. You realize you don’t really care, but listen politely to humor him.

There’s music playing on the radio and sports muted on the television. Some people are watching the game, but most are engaging in polite conversation and enjoying each other’s company. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot a guitar player who has begun to set up on the other side of the room. You recognize him as someone you’ve listened to before, and you remember that you enjoy his music. You may have to stay longer after all.

At this point, you realize that it’s dinner time, and if you’re going to stay for the live music, you’re going to need to eat. You pick up a menu and decide pizza sounds good, so you inform the bartender that you’d like a pizza to accompany your beer. She disappears around the corner and informs the chef of your order. You then advise a different bartender that you’d like that porter you were thinking about moments ago, and because he knows you, he doesn’t even ask if you have a tab open – he just pours your beer and adds the cost to your tab.

Now you gaze out the wall of windows and notice the sun is a lot lower outside then it was when you arrived. The colors in the sky are turning pink and purple and the streetlights have come on. That guitar player whose name you can’t remember but whose music you like is just about to start playing. Don’t worry, you’re sure he’ll introduce himself shortly and you’ll suddenly remember that you already knew his name.

Your pizza arrives just as you finish your porter, and you quickly decide to order that glorious IPA you love so much. The musician is now into his second song, the pizza is delicious and this warm atmosphere has you feeling right at home. You wish you could stay here, as opposed to going back to the real world.

As you finish your beer and pizza, you look around and realize it’s time to go. You decide to fill your growler on the way out (good thing you brought it with you) with some delicious witbier, and you also decide to pick up a sticker for your office. You say your goodbyes, pay your tab and leave the Republic behind, until the next time – which will most likely be tomorrow. As you’re driving away, you say to yourself “that sure is a great place to be.”

To the Republic (if you can keep it)… Cheers!

The Philosophy of Style

It sounds like the title of a jazz-fusion record.

At Brew Republic, we brew a lot of different beers… 22 to be exact. And that’s just the regulars that have been planned out so far. Once we get into the collaborations and mysterious one-offs phase of our brewing schedule, it will probably end up being a lot more than our initial planned 22.

But what’s the method to our madness you ask? It’s actually a complex formula that includes convoluted algorithms and abstract calculations that would confuse even the brightest minds.

Or maybe we make it seem harder than it actually is.

The first driving principle of our beer designs is adherence to the classically defined style guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). This is the annually-updated guide book of beer styles that the judges of the major beer competitions use to judge our beers. This isn’t to say that we are obsessed with winning awards, but as far as universally approved guidelines go, this is the one. It gives us brewers something to nerd out about, but it also gives the consumer a little peace of mind that the blonde ale you order is actually a blonde ale.

But that’s just the foundation of our recipe writing. The inspiration for what beer styles get added to our rotation is much more complicated.

We start by toiling over beer blogs, websites, forums, social media and talking to people to establish what the beer consumers want. It’s all well and good if our brewers want to make a particular style, but if the people have no interest in that style, it does us no good to brew it and have it sit on the shelf not being drunk. The vox populi (voice of the people) is critical to ensuring that we are brewing what you want to drink.

Then there is the real internal war – our brew master is a “malt-forward” devotee, while her assistant brewer is a bona fide hophead. This ongoing struggle makes for heated debates and flying beer ingredients, but more often than not ends in compromise. The good news for you lucky craft beer fans is that the two balance each other out, as well as our recipes and rotating styles, and are actually a benefit to the end product. Otherwise we would be one of those “everything is hoppy” breweries, or one of those nuanced malt bill breweries, both of which have their place of course, but that’s not what we are.

The final factor that goes into our flight crafting logic is our desire to offer many different styles and cover as many preferences as possible. Some people like German lagers and others prefer spicy Belgian ales. Some of you are obsessed with citrusy American hops and others prefer the European noble varieties. There are people who like fruit in their beer, and some who call that anathema. Some of you even like sours. We hear you all, and completely agree with all of the above. The beers we brew are chosen deliberately to reflect as much of what I just listed as is possible.

So without further ado, let’s get into the rotation a little bit. Our beers all fall into one of four categories according to rotation.

The core flight consists of eight beers, including a Helles Munich Lager, an Amber Ale, an American Pale Ale, an American India Pale Ale, a Witbier, an American Blonde Ale, a Baltic Porter and a Sweet Stout. These styles were selected to appeal to as many people as possible, with particular consideration for craft beer beginners, hopheads and dark beer fans. You will always be able to find at least four of these on our taps at any time, and we will make an effort to have at least one lighter beer, one hoppy beer and one dark beer amongst those four.

Beyond the core, there are two rotator categories that we brew year round. The first is the IPA Rotator series. This series consists of a Double IPA, a Black IPA/Cascadian Ale, a Red IPA, a Rye IPA and a White IPA. These are all hop-forward creations and are scheduled to rotate in and out throughout the year, with a touch of consideration to seasons. In other words, expect the White IPA in the summer, the Red in the fall, the Black in the winter and the Rye in the spring. Oh, and that Double… he’ll be around a few times a year at his leisure. We’ll be sure to announce his arrival.

The second rotation is our Seasonal Rotator series. As the name suggests, these beers will rotate according to seasonal considerations. These beers are our Hefeweizen and Farmhouse Ale in the summer, our Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest Lager in the fall, our Christmas Ale, Winter Warmer and Wee Heavy in the winter and our Maibock and Belgian Dubbel in the spring. As we go along, we may add to or subtract from these planned styles according to public outcry and national beer trends.

The fourth and final category our beers will fall into is the Limited Edition and Experimental category. These beers remain undefined, and will usually be added one at a time as we get a wild idea to create something different, or as we collaborate with our friends. There is also a plan in the works to create an anniversary beer every year, which will certainly fall into this category.

So now you have a little insight into the inner–workings of the Brew Republic brewing brain-trust. We’ve only scratched the surface as far as the total body of knowledge is concerned, but trust me… you don’t want full access. It’s pretty scary in here. All this talk of beer is making me thirsty.

To the Republic (if you can keep it)… Cheers!

What is Brew Republic?

1. verb– make (beer) by soaking, boiling, and fermentation.
2. noun– a kind of beer.

1. noun– a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

A simple question like that actually has a modestly complex answer.

Functionally, Brew Republic is a craft brewery located in the Potomac River shoreline community of Woodbridge, Virginia. The brewery makes a multitude of classic beer styles and uses proper locally-sourced ingredients (when available) and proven methods to do so. The beer is complimented by delicious food, fun entertainment and a staff that is friendly, hard-working, knowledgeable and equipped to foster an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming.

But as our name might suggest, brewing beer is only half of the equation. The word “republic” was chosen deliberately to reflect our philosophy: people deserve a destination they can escape to and enjoy better beer. There are two elements to this ethos: the people and the destination.

The people are first and foremost, you – the consumer – without whom none of this matters. It’s obviously important to brew delicious beer made the right way, but if nobody is there to drink it, that delicious beer made the right way becomes a lot like that tree that fell in the woods. We spend more time focusing on you than we do on the beer we make, which is saying a lot because we obsess over the beer we make.

The people of the republic also include us: the brewers, the bartenders, the chefs, the sales team, the accountants and lawyers, the guy who sweeps the floor… all of us. Our industry partners and the folks at other restaurants and bars where our beer is on tap are part of this thing too. We are all in it together.

The second element of our philosophy is the destination. Brew Republic exists physically, but it is as much a mental getaway as it is a physical location. We believe that beer is fun, and as such is the perfect escape from the tired, mundane, workaday and sometimes very ugly realities of everyday life. That escape can be found in our tap room, but that escape can also be found wherever you find a pint of our wonderful beer. In other words, it doesn’t matter where you physically are; if you’re drinking a Brew Republic beer, you’re in the Republic, and that’s a great place to be.

So when someone asks you what Brew Republic is, tell them it’s about the beer, the people and the destination. All three are true, and in no certain order, are our priorities and the elements of who we are – our solemn pledge to all of you.

To the Republic! Cheers.