Though Audacious Aleworks had their ribbon opening ceremony earlier this month, co-owner Brian Reinoehl won’t pinpoint that as the opening date of Falls Church’s new microbrewery.
“We’ve been open for a couple months and because we have a number of beers, we’re still bringing in and expanding our space, we still anticipate more soft openings. We’re a work in progress,” he says.
Audacious Aleworks, the brainchild of Reinoehl and Mike Frizzell, is a tap room with an on-site brewery. Their bare bones setup doesn’t offer a food menu outside of snacks and provides for a beer tasting experience similar to a winery where people can taste multiple beers in 4-ounce servings as well as traditional 12-ounce sizes.
“We’re not a sports bar and it will never be a sports bar. [We don’t have a full menu because] we wanted to produce everything that we sell,” said Reinoehl.
Although Reinoehl and Frizzell have always enjoyed beer, they were never part of the community of amateur brewers. Instead, they simply saw a good business opportunity a few years ago when they visited Bad Wolf Brewery in Manassas.
At the time, the two had been running an IT consulting company called Sumatech Productions for 20 years.
In addition, Reinoehl owns a moon bounce company and Frizzell owns three laundromats.
“I’m not a person who’s been home brewing for 20 years. Every beer I’ve made has been done for commercial purposes,” Frizzell, the chief brewer, said.
This largely translated to an extensive process of trial and error. For a year, the pair worked out of Reinoehl’s back porch with friends and family as test subjects while they tweaked their formula.
There was also a process of brewing on a large scale. Reinoehl points out that most amateur brewers can start making their own product with a $50 investment in equipment. Opening a full brewery not only carries a higher start-up cost (tens of thousands of dollars) but one that also takes a lot more time.
To brew five barrels of beer (approximately 155 gallons) takes 16 hours and that’s just the first step.
The pair estimates they were putting in 12 hour days.
Frizzell still works several hours a day on-site doing the brewing. In comparison to the three laundromats he still owns, Frizzell equates this more to a full-time job.
“I’ve always been a science geek and so when we started brewing, that really appealed to me,” he said.
The two have also relied on support from other brewers for guidance. Reinoehl estimates he visited 100 other breweries in the process of learning the ins and outs of the business. He was especially flattered that many of the other brewers he’s come to befriend attended this month’s ribbon cutting. Falls Church’s other major brewery, Mad Fox Brewing Company on West Broad Street, has been particularly welcoming.
“The main thing I learned was that it’s not all about the beers, although I think we’re gonna have fabulous beer. It’s about the people working here, so we’re really going to have excellent customer service,” said Reinoehl.
The bar will eventually offer a selection of board games and is considering having bands in the space as well.
The pair originally planned to open their business in the Mosaic District but found the Fairfax County zoning restrictions for breweries too restrictive.
In Fairfax County, breweries are classified as industrial which greatly restricts the places in the county where brewing can be done. After appealing to the county board four times, the pair decided to seek out alternative options which is how they landed in Falls Church.
“Fairfax County wasn’t very accommodating and didn’t want us there, whereas as soon as I came to Falls Church the City government and representatives welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home from day one,” said Reinoehl.
Frizzell says that the advantages of commuter traffic at the Mosaic district can’t be ignored but that there’s a good sense of community in Falls Church.
“There are a lot of local events and more community here. Everyone there is more cutthroat,” said Frizzell. “Everyone here has more of a work together attitude.”.
Audacious Aleworks currently has a capacity for 12 taps and offers 20 beers including raspberry and summer wheatleys, a stout, two IPAs, a blonde ale, a cream aisle and a Belgian Saison. It is located at 110 East Fairfax St.