The Virginia Beer Company, founded in 2016, has arguably become the social center of Williamsburg, located on Second Street, not far from the historic colonial area. It is a brewery within a brewery, host to more than one hundred unique beer formulas crafted on site. Patrons are invited to enjoy games, live entertainment, and a seemingly endless caravan of food trucks. All of this is made possible by creating a care free brew pub experience, every single day.
While cracking open a cold one is synonymous with 5pm, the first shift of brewers arrive at 5am.
Virginia Beer Company brewer AJ Stauber, explains that, “before the food truck pulls up for the day or Good Shot Judy does their soundcheck, or anything else happens, the hot liquor tank gets recirculated and the trough needs rinsing.” A clean in place (CIP) system is employed to prepare the tanks and equipment for a day of brewing. Every day is different and therefore efficiency is a key ingredient to a seamless hand-off from the first to second shift of brewers. One or two brewers work in tandem each shift, for approximately ten hours, with varying amounts of overlap. The most time-consuming task is cleaning. Eliminating unwanted bacteria from one batch to the next is critical to maintain the standard expected of this brewery within a brewery. Maintaining sixteen drafts in the taproom, with at least twelve rotating regularly to highlight their four mainstays, requires teams dedicated to their specific tasks to create a consistent experience for patrons on site and those enjoying Virginia Beer Company drafts around the world. Canning, filling kegs, and pouring are happening simultaneously. The five-barrel brewing pilot systems allow new formulas to be tested at the taps by customers to determine which ones are suited for distribution to local grocers and restaurants featuring the latest drafts. Their thirty-barrel system creates the popular Free Verse, Liquid Escape, Elbow Patches, and Saving Daylight, which remain available on-site for 32 ounce crowler, 64 ounce growler fills, and in two keg sizes. Director of sales, Michael Rhodes, is the logistics mastermind. He determines how much of which brews are needed in the tap house versus across the country. “From laptop to lips, a beer can conceptually make a lot of stops” explains Rhodes. Founders, Chris Smith and Robby Willey, work with brewmaster Jonathan Newman to recreate a consistent taste experience at home and at one of the many beer festivals hosted globally. Some beers take advanced planning on promotion and production Chris explains. “Select formulas are brewed directly into red and white wine barrels, taking up to three years to make.” Robby continues, “We’ve been featured from Denver, at the Great American Beer Festival, to England and Tokyo. The Netherlands, UK, and Japan are a growing part of our international distribution, and that all comes right from here.” Synchronizing the roles each day promotes the desired result, which according to AJ is, “the realization of a tasty pour, that we conceptualized - is the most gratifying.”