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August 15, 2014

Old Bust Head Brewing Co. puts Fauquier beer on map

Video/Steve Wheat of FauquerNow
Video: Click above to watch Old Bust Head Brewing’s story.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Co-founders Ike and Julie Broaddus and Charles Kling in April 2013 tour the Vint Hill building that would become their brewhouse.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Patrons line up Feb. 1 for the brewery’s first beer sales in pints and growlers.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Volunteers work the Italian-made bottling line on July 28.
Photo/Old Bust Head Brewing
The taproom features original wooden beams and posts, a highly-polished concrete floor, a walnut bar and Old Bust Head’s goat logo, inspired by animals on the Broaddus farm.
Photo/Old Bust Head Brewing
Preparing for this weekend’s grand opening, Ike Broaddus meets with taproom staff members.
Charles and I planned for a year, bit by bit. The challenge was selling Julie on the idea.
— Ike Broaddus on the founding of Old Bust Head Brewing Co.
Old Bust Head Brewing
• What: Craft brewery with taproom and beer garden.

• Where: 7134 Lineweaver Road, Vint Hill

• Founded: 2013

• First beer sale: Feb. 1, 2014

• Taproom:
Grand opening weekend, Aug. 15-17

• Owners: Ike and Julie Broaddus and Charles Kling

• Staff: 10 full-time, along with part-timers and 50 volunteers.

• Design capacity:
Up to 40,000 barrels (1.3 million gallons) annually.

• Products: Ales and lagers.

• Available: Restaurants and retailers in 14 counties, with expansion soon, and at the brewery.

• Distributor: Premium of Chantilly.

• Slogan: “Locally brewed. Universally loved.”

• Website:

• Phone: 540-347-4777
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
About $6 million has gone into launching the new Vint Hill business, which uses equipment and raw materials from around the globe.

Volunteers line up to work there.

A chemical engineer did much of the plumbing.

Walnut trees felled on a local farm and the Cold War play roles in the business.

Old Bust Head Brewing Co. has quite a story.

Character and narrative figure strongly in Old Bust Head, positioned to eventually become one of the nation’s largest craft breweries, with plans to produce 40,000 barrels of beer or more annually in a former military contractor’s warehouse at Vint Hill.

Fate brought together the founders with a combination of experience, passion, talent and capital to make it happen.

Master brewer Charles Kling had earned a degree in chemical engineering, taken a well-paying but uninspiring job as a federal patent examiner and bought a home in Fauquier.

Mr. Kling a few years ago wandered into the office of Ike Broaddus, director of the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority, and proposed converting a barn on the former Army base into a brewpub.

The Vint Hill EDA board couldn’t see the financial wisdom of investing the money required.

But, Mr. Broaddus asked Mr. Kling what it would take to build a full-fledged production brewery. Thus began an intense period of research, planning and home-brewing.

“Charles and I planned for a year, bit by bit,” Mr. Broaddus said. “The challenge was selling Julie on the idea.”

Mr. and Mrs. Broaddus had sold one of the nation’s largest Century 21 real estate brokerages, based in Alexandria, but kept their smaller company that produces custom software for the industry. He took the Vint Hill job and she immersed herself in Fauquier history, land preservation, their two daughters, their son and critters on their farm along Old Bust Head Road near Broad Run.

Gradually, Julie Broaddus bought into the brewery plan.

“I just saw it was a really good opportunity,” she said. “Whatever we did, I wanted it to be something we’d do together.”

And, with Mr. Kling, their range of talents seemed ideal.

Mrs. Broaddus, 51, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with an emphasis in marketing, from Duke University.

Mr. Broaddus, 53, dropped out of Virginia Tech as a junior. He sold cars in Northern Virginia and played music up and down the coast in restaurants and bars. But, he developed a keen mind for numbers and finance, with talent for sales and management.

Mr. Kling, 42, grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where old-timers taught him to make moonshine. Later, he migrated to wine before learning to brew. He became a master and ran a couple of award-winning craft breweries out west.

Mr. Broaddus and Mr. Kling traveled to a trade show in California. They grilled owners of craft breweries large and small, looking for lessons learned the hard way. The most important one: Plan for growth. Most craft breweries can’t keep up with the regional demand — typically growing 20 percent annually — for their products.

With a business plan and a concept to use local stories to brand and sell their beer, the trio began looking for a building to house their brewery. They found nothing in Fauquier that met their criteria.

Finally, a Gainesville building emerged as the place.

Mr. Broaddus left his job with the Vint Hill EDA to focus on Old Bust Head.

But, a last-minute change in the Gainesville lease caused the brewery partners to walk away.

Carter Wiley, a commercial real estate broker and Vint Hill EDA board member, suggested a new opportunity on the former Army base near New Baltimore. A military contractor suddenly had left after leasing 65,000 square feet of non-descript warehouses built in the 1950s and ’60s.

Mr. and Mr. Broaddus bought the property. Old Bust Head had a home — in Fauquier, as they originally had hoped. With Mr. Kling, they formed a separate company to create the brewery.

Simultaneously, Fauquier’s board of supervisors adopted a new business incentive plan. Old Bust Head became the first recipient, saving about $100,000, thanks to breaks on taxes for a few years and building permit fees.

Construction started in the spring of 2013 and the first beer flowed by winter. This weekend, Old Bust Head’s taproom and beer garden open. The place retains its warehouse feel, with refinements designed by Warrenton architect Jim Hricko.

It has been a long, bittersweet journey.

Last December, doctors at Johns Hopkins suddenly discovered that 17-year-old Finley Broaddus had a rare, incurable form of liver cancer.

The Highland School senior set up Finley’s Green Leap Forward Fund to raise money for environmental work around the globe. She fought for her life and her cause in a very open manner, inspiring thousands of supporters.

Finley and Julie Broaddus stayed frequently in an apartment near Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where the teenager underwent aggressive treatment.

Mrs. Broaddus worked from the apartment on the brewery launch — selecting labels, approving design details, supervising graphic artists and media efforts.

Finley succumbed June 2, just a few months after the first beer flowed from the brew house, an elegant array of stainless steel that Mr. Kling designed and helped build with his own hands when the cost of hiring plumbers seemed too steep.

Their youngest daughter’s death naturally still affects Mr. and Mrs. Broaddus deeply.

“I’m OK when I’m here working,” said Mrs. Broaddus, tearing up during a recent tour of the taproom under construction. “But, going to the grocery store is difficult.”

There, she sees people from Highland, from the community, from the legions of Finley’s fans.

The work keeps Mr. and Mrs. Broaddus going, lately from early morning to midnight as the final pieces fall into place.

Already, the beer has proven very popular. Old Bust Head has started at less than 10 percent of its designed capacity, producing at a rate of about 3,000 barrels annually.

Premium Distributors of Chantilly has its products blanketing a 14-county region, from Arlington and Winchester to the Northern Neck. Six-packs sell for about $10 each. Dozens of restaurants have added Old Bust Head taps. The brewery’s production and distribution will begin to ramp up this fall.

Old Bust Head’s roster of 10 full-time employees will grow, many of the new hires coming from the 50 or so people who have volunteered to unload kegs, assemble boxes, put together the 1,800-square-foot cold storage room, run the bottling line and pour beer.

The new taproom will expand the brewery’s public hours and bring more people to Vint Hill, where they’ll gather around a long bar made of walnut from the Broaddus farm and sample beer from an array of 48 kegs in a huge chiller, powered with geothermal energy.

Old Bust Head’s story includes an environmental ethic, branding built on local history and lore, community spirit and entrepreneurial grit.

It might never produce a million barrels of beer annually, but Old Bust Head joins the craft brewing industry in which Sam Adams blazed a trail that has brought Charlie Ashby’s face to the shelves metropolitan grocery stores.

The last “king” of the Free State in Fauquier never could have imagined such a thing, but he’d probably enjoy a pint of Wildcat pale ale.

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cbroaddus · August 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm
Thanks for the great article! I feel obligated to note that "three daughters" should be "two daughters and a son."
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