Lorton makes way for a local packaging brewery.
By Natalie Manitius
1. Around Town
Fair Winds Brewing Company is technically a packaging brewery—at least 75 percent of beer is sold off premises at restaurants, bars or retail vendors—and plans for a fall opening in Lorton. There will also be a tasting room in the 12,000 square foot operation featuring 30 barrels.
2. Sea Change
The nautical theme ties into founder Casey Jones‘ background: Jones has a masters in marine biology and navigated waters as a Coast Guard officer. He moved to NoVA in 2011 to work in corporate executive recruitment, all while homebrewing.
3. Finding Fairfax
Jones’ interest in beer grew after having access to local beers while stationed in Coos Bay, Oregon. He looked into buying a Sea Dog Brewing Co. brewpub in Maine, but Shipyard Brewing Company beat him to it. The vision was accelerated once the brewer moved to NoVA, observing that Fairfax County “didn’t have a packaging brewery where you could literally have a local Fairfax brew on tap,” says Jones.
4. Name Change
Topsail was initially proposed for the brewery name, a nod to Jones’s experience aboard the only square rigger owned by the U.S. government ( in which the topsail was set first and last), but was challenged by an Oregon brewery claiming rights to the name. Jones changed it to Fair Winds, originating from the sailor phrase “wishing you fair winds as you depart on seas,” Jones says, and represents both nautical roots and the communal effort required to set ship sail.
5. Brew Squad
Jones, who is a decade-long homebrewer, will be joined by brewmaster Todd Parker, who brewed for Copper Canyon Brewery in Michigan for 15 years. Parker also has 25 years of home brewing experience, and is “almost like a walking beer historian,” Jones says. Lead brewer and active duty Coast Guard officer Shawn Johnson brewed at Saint Somewhere Brewing Company in Florida and will bring his specialty in the saison and farmhouse categories.
6. Homebrewers’ Haven
Tapping into what Jones calls the “innovation engine” happening in NoVA garages and basements, Fair Winds will offer a homebrewers’ platform in which homebrewers submit beer ideas to Fair Winds. Voted on through social media, the winning beer crafter will help brew on premises and have their creation featured in the tasting room.
7. The Beers
Fair Winds’ core beer line-up will be hop-forward with IPAs and double IPAs, as well as a kolsch, pale ale and a bold red. Not a hops fan? Fear not—the Fair Winds philosophy is to provide interesting beers that satisfy local tastes, with feedback mechanisms in place like tasting panels and ask the brewer day. The seasonal menu will boast bocks, shwartzbiers and a summer zest with lemongrass and ginger.
8. Not the Beers
The experimental spirit will be in full swing at Fair Winds: In Jones’ experiments he once added several pounds of jalapenos to a beer. “It was so over the top hot that I couldn’t even finish a pint of it,” says Jones. “My goal was to get that really crisp and heavy oily finish of the jalapeno and I way overdid it, so much so that I’m an Irish guy and I turned bright red halfway into the pint and couldn’t even finish it. But it smelled awesome.”