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The Beer Circle » American IPA, Beer, Breweries, Mad Fox Brewing Co. » Mad Fox Brewing Company – Falls Church, VA

Mad Fox Brewing Company – Falls Church, VA

Mad Fox Brewing Company of Falls Church, Virginia is a common meeting spot for various The Beer Circle writers, but I noticed we hadn’t given it a full review to this point. Luckily, Mad Fox has started offering tours on the first Saturday of each month, which I finally had time to take advantage of this weekend.

Free beer is good beer

Free beer is good beer

As always, parking for this brewery is great in an area where parking is miserable. You just can’t find anywhere to go in Falls Church, but Mad Fox has a sneaky little parking garage in the back that is always free and always has spots. I arrived later than planned, but the host squeezed me in to the 11:30am tour. We’re starting off pretty well.

The tour was lead by Brian, one of four brewers. The owner of Mad Fox, Bill Madden, got his start at Cap City Brewing Company, another local brewery. The name comes from Bill’s last name, Madden, and his now wife, Elizabeth Fox. Madden-Fox, Mad Fox. It’s clever, and come to think of it I never questioned the name. The brewery opened in July 2010 and has done nothing but grow since.

The tour started by going over the basic brewing process. Mad Fox typically employs 90 minute boils and uses pellet hops versus whole leaf. Interestingly enough, the local water is not cold enough in the summer to chill the wort quick enough, so they use a non-toxic refrigerant to speed up the process. I was distracted a bit from the speech by a rapidly fermenting tank directly behind me, which was their Rock Star Irish Red. In the tanks to the left and right, Mad Fox has a Double Bock collaboration with Bluejacket and a collaboration with Meridian Pint, a DC beer bar. Brian elaborated that Mad Fox doesn’t just work with other breweries and distilleries, but beer bars as well to get their product to the masses.

The tour group got three beers over the course of the hour tour: Green Flash Barleywine, Mad Fox Broad Street IPA, and Flying Dog Horny Dog. I assume the brewery is trying to move through leftover barleywines from last weekend’s barleywine festival, but I would have much rather had three different Mad Fox beers, than two high gravity barleywines at lunchtime.

I prodded a bit about Mad Fox’s barrel aging and sour programs. I learned that they are in the process of obtaining Bowman’s whiskey barrrels for their batch 300, and traded a Catoctin Creek whiskey barrel to Meridian Pint for a chardonnay barrel. The chardonnay barrel will hold a trippel, and Meridian Pint’s whiskey barrel will hold their collaboration with Mad Fox and will be released during the Craft Brewer’s Conference coming up at the end of March.

Catoctin Creek Barrels

Catoctin Creek Barrels

Crazy enough, Mad Fox actually has a sour beer in the works. Apparently, a barleywine went bad and they put it in some Catoctin Creek barrels, secluded from the world for safety’s sake, for a year. Brian said that in about six months it might see the light of day. I’ll be marking that on my calendars!

In terms of brewing capacity, Mad Fox is currently a 15 barrel system, but it employs tanks capable of 30 barrels. That way, they can brew a double batch of the same beer and save time. They currently put out 1300 barrels/year, but at maximum capacity can put out 3200 barrels/year. Because of this, they have no immediate expansion plans despite having a very cramped space.

The entire brewing facility. Cramped, but America.

The entire brewing facility. Cramped, but America.

For a bit of humor, they currently hold the Dominion Cup–named for the old Virginia brewery that has since been bought out and moved. Each year, local breweries hold a “kick the keg” competition, and the first keg kicked wins. If you win the cup, you can rest assured that it will be stolen. Mad Fox has won it twice, and had it stolen twice. DC Brau apparently showed up in Cox Cable uniforms one year. Tricky bastards!

The Dominion Cup

The Dominion Cup

Remember to always bring a coat to brewery tours! It’s cold back where the magic happens. Funny enough, I always feel comfortable wearing plaid on these tours as I’m never alone.

Now it’s time for one of the real treats of this weekend. Mad Fox had a keg of Orange Whip, their famous American IPA on tap. It wasn’t even listed on the big board because they thought it would kick so quickly. I settled in after the tour with my Orange Whip and ordered lunch.

Orange Whip
Orange Whip was served with head pouring over the top of the glass, semi-hazy orange in color with a finger or two of white head. The retention is great, and the head laces so much that I can't tell from the outside where the head has gone and wear it starts.
The aroma is faint, but is focused on citrus and other tropical hints. It's very piney as well, right is right up my alley for IPAs.
The taste is basically all orange citrus, in a piney delicious way. Fresh hops, and a slight nip of booze assault the palate. I feel like if you put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in this you'd get a cream sickle beer float. Note to self: do that next time.
It has a light body with the perfect amount of carbonation. The beer is damn drinkable and pairs wonderfully with their food offerings. The bitter aftertaste sticks with you well after the beer has cleared the tongue.
This is Mad Fox's best and most popular offering, making it a tough one to track down. It's priced right for the area at $6 per pint, but if you can get it on half priced growler night it's an absolute steal.
The beer I look forward to most from this brewery never disappoints. If you come here for one reason, this should be it.

Orange Whip

Beer Stats
Style: American IPA
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 16oz
ABV: 7.20%
BA Score: 94
RB Score: 92
Delicious Sammie

Delicious Sammie

Finally, my lunch. I branched out from pizza this time and got the roast beef sandwich. The hops from Orange Whip and the spicy peppers on the sandwich pair very well. The bread, roast beef, and cheese are also perfect. Don’t limit yourself to pizza! But if you do, you still won’t be disappointed. For those wanting to try more than just one beer, they do offer a cheap sampler: $6 for four 4oz tasters. Can’t go wrong there either. Overall, this is one of, if not the, best brewery in the greater DC area. Don’t miss your chance to have a great time and some great beers.

Mad Fox Brewing Company

Mad Fox Brewing Company

What's On Tap?

What’s On Tap?

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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