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Beer pioneer Mad Fox Brewing Company will close July 21

The brewery celebrates its ninth (and final) anniversary with a party this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Mad Fox Brewing Company

Take one glance at Mad Fox Brewing Company’s awards—Great American Beer Festival, Virginia Beer Cup and Northern Virginia Magazine reader poll—and you’ll see an impressive amount of accolades.

Now, the final Mad Fox kegs will run dry before the end of the month.

The original Falls Church location of Mad Fox will close its doors permanently on July 21. The short-lived DC location closed last year.

“It’s bittersweet,” says Bill Madden, CEO and executive brewer of Mad Fox Brewing Company. “We’ve been challenged on the business front for some time now and managed to keep it going, but after we saw the historical lows in both the spring and the past few weeks, it’s become too tough to manage.”

Madden, who’s been in the brewing business for over 25 years with roles at the now-shuttered Capital City Brewing Company (Shirlington) and Vintage 50 (Leesburg), has seen the Virginia brewery scene grow significantly over the past few years.

In his Facebook post announcing the closure, Madden wrote the competition has become fierce in the area, “When we opened in 2010, there were 40 breweries in Virginia. Now there are close to 250.”

And with two taprooms opening within a 2-mile area—Settle Down Easy Brewing and Audacious Aleworks—the business has been hard to keep afloat despite regular visitors and weekly events.

“We were a brewpub first and foremost,” Madden says. “But in order to keep up with the competition over the past 15 years, we had to be a production brewpub. But we couldn’t can or bottle, so with the competition out there now, we had to try and cover our losses in terms of sales.”

To make the “extremely difficult” decision, as Madden described it, even tougher, the announcement via social media came one day before the business’ ninth anniversary. It was the first brewpub to open in the city of Falls Church in 2010, and one of the first in the region before the beer boom took over Northern Virginia.

Mad Fox still plans to celebrate with a previously planned party on Saturday, July 13 with live music, fresh food and local camaraderie.

“It’s going to be a celebration of both our business and what we’ve been in the community,” Madden says. “We’ll be bringing out all of the little gems of beer that we’ve been saving in the back and are hoping to see our local supporters come out.”

Madden says it’s been nice to see people sharing their favorite memories and kind words via social media—in less than 48 hours, the announcement garnered over 1,100 reactions and 400 comments—and wants people to know that the “Fox family,” will live on in spirit.

“I’ve been so pleased to be a part of the Falls Church community,” Madden says. “We’ve had so many great employees who I’ve watched grow up, even from high school and into being young professionals, and we’ve celebrated so many events: birthdays, weddings, retirements and holidays.”

Madden is looking to stay in the brewing industry in an administration position. “At my age, the physical act of brewing and the work that is involved is probably not where I need to be.”

As for the Northern Virginia beer scene, Madden says taprooms seem to be doing OK in the economic climate, and newer, trendier locations seem to be sustaining themselves well. He says the more established places are the ones that are struggling.

“The brewpub model is a tough one to maintain compared to a brewery taproom with little overhead, lower rents and outsourced food trucks,” Madden wrote to social media followers. Brewpubs are also full-service restaurants, making it two businesses under one roof. Although Madden tried to work it out with the landlord and bankers, “We are just no longer sustainable.” // Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St., Suite 1, Falls Church

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