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October 1, 2019

Altered Suds brewery goes for “weird,” “funky” feel

Photos/Don Del Rosso
Altered Suds owners Corey Ross, Casey Ward and Jason Bergantim began planning their brewery almost two years ago.
Maryann Grigg and her brother Tony Rufflo with Taproom Manager Alex Berklovich at the bar — a huge slab of old oak, with bark, finished with a high-gloss epoxy.
You feel like you’re back with your best friends after you’ve been away for a while
— Altered Suds customer Maryanna Grigg
Altered Suds Beer Co.
• What: Craft brewery and tasting room focused on small batch hoppy tasting beer.

• Where: 36 Main St.; main entrance between Molly’s Irish Pub and Hartman’s Jewelry; additional entrances off South Second Street and rear parking area

• Owners: Jason Bergantim, Corey Ross and Casey Ward of Warrenton.

• Brewery employees: 5

• Investment: About $300,000

• Hours: 3 to 10 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday; 3 to 11 p.m., Friday; noon to 11 p.m., Saturday; noon-8 p.m., Sunday

• Phone: 540-216-3490

• Website:

• Facebook page: Click here

• Instagram: Click here

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The owner of Molly’s Irish Pub in Old Town Warrenton always thought the restaurant’s vacant basement would be a “perfect fit” for a craft brewery.

But, Casey Ward admittedly lacked the know-how to make that happened.

Then, in late fall of 2017, along came brewers Corey Ross and Jason Bergantim in search of a place to start a brewery of their own.

“I said I had a vacant, 5,000-square-foot basement,” recalled Mr. Ward, 35. “That’s when we first sort of hatched the idea.”

Mr. Ross recalled: “He showed us the space” below the pub at 36 Main St. “It was meant to be.”

The three partners on Thursday, Sept. 12, opened in the remodeled space as Altered Suds — Warrenton’s second brewery. Old Town Warrenton’s first, Wort Hog Brewing Co. opened in January 2017 just down the hill at 41 Beckham St.

Patrons packed Altered Suds on the first day.

“It’s been steady” since, Mr. Ward said of business.

The owners have no doubt that Warrenton can support more than one brewery.

“If Warrenton has a couple different places to visit, you’re going to draw more of the beer crowd, willing to come farther away in order to hit several places,” said Mr. Ward, noting neighboring Loudoun County has 16 breweries that thrive. “I think it will be good for everyone.”

Fauquier’s other craft breweries include Barking Rose Brewing Company and Farm near Warrenton, Barrel Oak Farm Taphouse near Delaplane, Old Bust Head Brewing Co. at Vint Hill and Powers Farm & Brewery near Casanova.

Altered Suds’ nearest competitor thinks it and other local businesses will benefit from the new brewery.

“We expect the impact on our business to be very positive,” Wort Hog Managing Partner Matt Lutz said. “People will look at Warrenton and go, ‘Hey, there’s two breweries; there’s a cidery, and they’ve got some pretty good restaurants’.”

For obvious reasons, he hopes Altered Suds prospers, Mr. Lutz said.

“We want them to be successful. Because if they’re successful, that means people are coming to the town to drink beer.”

With different audiences, Altered Suds and Molly’s should complement each other, Mr. Ward said.

Altered Suds, which has five employees and can accommodate 108 people, has more of a “speakeasy feel,” he said. “It’s going to be more for the beer drinker who’s there specifically for the beer, not as much as the environment.”

That will “play well” with Molly’s customers, Mr. Ward explained.

“If people are looking for a family meal or a kids’ menu and things like that, they can come right upstairs to Molly’s,” he said.

The brewery should generate about $500,000 per year in revenue, according to the owners. Molly’s last year did $1.3 million in business, Mr. Ward said.

The brewery offers several menu items, including fish and chips, a Rueben sandwich and fried pickles, from Molly’s kitchen upstairs.

Mr. Ross, 33, who made beer at The Farm Brewery at Broad Run, and Mr. Bergantim met when both worked at the Old Bust Head taproom.

They came up with the name Altered Suds, which aims to create a different kind of beer and taproom experience, which Mr. Bergantim termed “funky” and “unique.”

“We want to keep it as weird and altered as possible,” he said. “The whole vibe — the music is unique and different, the space and the colors and the art on the walls. . . . The beer has to kind of reflect that as well.”

Its beer selection emphasizes “hoppy stuff,” said Mr. Bergantim, Barrel Oak’s first brewer.

One of Altered Suds’ more popular beers includes a traditional style Kolsch, or ale, that “we flip on its head by adding a blended tea,” Mr. Bergantim said. “So, if you taste it, you don’t really taste that unique Kolsch, you taste more of the spices that go into it.”

With 13 taps, it plans to have up to 10 beers available at any time.

“They’ll be a lot of rotating beer,” Mr. Ward said. “And, it’s going to be as fresh as it can be, because we’re only making a few kegs at a time.”

The three-barrel brewing system can produce about 1,400 pints a week or 9,300 gallons per year.

In a few months, Altered Suds will begin canning beer for onsite sale.

The three partners have put about $300,000 into the business, Mr. Ward said. Among other things, the space needed a new sprinkler and heating and air conditioning systems.

In remodeling the space, the owners preserved portions of the taproom’s unfinished surfaces.

“It was a basement,” Mr. Ward said. “So we left a lot of exposed stone and brick. There was a lot of (concrete) block wall that was just painted and we did some framing and drywall.

“We’re not trying to make it seem like it’s not a big basement, because it is.”

Maryanna Grigg of Rappahannock County and her brother Tony Ruffo of The Plains stopped by Altered Suds last week.

Both tried pale ales they that described as “smooth, balanced” and “light and full at the same time.”

Ms. Grigg, 34, called the taproom “homey and very welcoming.”

“You feel like you’re back with your best friends after you’ve been away for a while,” the cleaning business owner said.

It has an “industrial but warm feeling,” said Mr. Ruffo, 28, the beverage director and events coordinator of Field & Main restaurant in Marshall. “It kind of has that speakeasy vibe.”

He added: “We’re excited for the homeboys doing their own thing. It’s great to see Old Town Warrenton open to it.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at or 540-270-0300.
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