Birth of the brews

By Posted on Nov 02 2015 | By

Fermenting success at Old Bust Head Brewing Company

In January 2006, Ike and Julie Broaddus were riding high. The power couple had just sold their Century 21 real estate company and were casting about for a new venture.

It was a given further success awaited them. After all, by the time they placed their real estate firm on the market they had built it into the largest Century 21 company in the world, employing 400 people in 14 different offices scattered across northern Virginia and southern Maryland.

Nonetheless, it took a few years before the beer began flowing.

Ike Broaddus

Ike Broaddus

In the interim, the couple developed a deep interest in Fauquier County and worked for various non-profit organizations supporting land preservation. As a result, Ike Broaddus landed a job as board member, and then chairman, of the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority. Within a few years, he was its director.

Meanwhile Julie Broaddus pursued her interest in Fauquier history working on the county’s architectural review board and supporting historical events.

She also spent over two years researching and writing a manuscript based on civil war diaries of county residents. The document is used by researchers and will be published in the future.

In June 2010, Charles Kling walked into Ike Broaddus’ office seeking a building in Vint Hill for a brew pub. Kling held a degree in chemical engineering and had extensive experience as a commercial brewer of craft beers, acquiring multiple awards.

At the time, Kling was employed at the Patent Office and recalls he took the position “to get a real job and settle down. I soon realized that was not going to be a long term plan.” Once a brewer always a brewer.

Over the course of two years, Kling impressed the Broaddus couple with his smarts, drive and brewing expertise. It occurred to Ike Broaddus to join forces with the brewmaster; not just to open a small brew pub but a full brewery. Kling agreed.

So the two guys wanted to make beer; no surprise there. But a cooler head prevailed and forced an in-depth analysis of the proposed venture. “Ike and Charles worked for a year and a half to convince me that it was the right business for us to invest in,” said Julie Broaddus.

It was time well spent. Starting a business from scratch is a challenge. Less than 50 percent of small businesses make it past four years. A brewery is a major financial commitment. It’s not a sound move to roll the dice with the family bank account in play on an ill-advised project.

As the intense planning for the brewery unfolded, Ike Broaddus was steadily working himself out of a job. He knew that soon all the the properties for sale in Vint Hill would be snapped up leaving him unemployed. Type A personalities don’t like to sit around so the Ike-Julie-Charles team became Old Bust Head Brewing Company.

Taking Flight
After evaluating several properties, it came as no surprise that the brewery was located in Vint Hill. The next task, among many, was naming the business and creating a marketing plan. “I developed the brand,” Julie Broaddus said. “I came up with proposals to present to Ike and Charles.”

They all wanted the brand to reflect their commitment to quality, sense of community and nostalgia for Fauquier County. “We were rural. We were fun. We were down to earth. We were not a scary brand. Charles makes beers that are delicious. Anyone would love these beers. We wanted a brand that was inclusive,” Julie Broaddus said.

Her knowledge of county history also came into play. The Broaddus’ live on Old Bust Head Road. The oldest part of their home dates to 1734. Over 250 years ago, a wheelwright shop was located at the bottom of their property. It also housed a small moonshine operation.

One day one of the locals got deep into his cups and tumbled off his horse. It was an era of nicknames and the tipsy local became know as “Bust Head”. The name stuck and evolved over the ensuing decades with the nearby lane being called Old Bust Head Road.

Success again
Old Bust Head Brewery
This year Old Bust Head Brewing Company will produce 5,000 barrels of beer; that’s 1.5 million bottles. Full production will take at least five years to achieve; production will top out at 30,000 barrels annually.

So what does the brewery team think of their successful enterprise?

“It’s a wildly complex business. There are so many moving parts and that’s what makes it so much fun. And we are the only brewery in Fauquier County,” said Ike Broaddus.

“I started with a vague business plan and its been a lot fun to see how its worked out. It’s a dream come true,” Charles Kling said.

Julie Broaddus puts their success in perspective by saying, “We’ve hosted over 100 events in our taproom since opening. And we’ve given over $11,000 to charities in donated tours and tastings. We want to help others do good.”

Having fun, pleasing people and gaining satisfaction; sounds like the perfect business.

We’ll drink to that.

For additional information on the brewery’s operating hours and events, visit

Here’s to your health
Wine dinners are a common offering at many Fauquier County wineries. But today’s craft brews are so flavorful and diverse that beer dinners are rapidly gaining in popularity. Here’s a recent Old Bust Head Brewing Company menu for a dinner held at a local eatery.

Salad: Winter field greens, caramelized baby onion, Gorgonzola cheese, pickled walnuts, paired with Wildcat IPA

1st course: Smoked IPA braised pork belly, fennel cabbage slaw, paired with Virginia Hop Harvest Smoked IPA

2nd Course: Brewer’s lamb pie—a twist on shepherd’s pie—and prepared with plenty of beer, topped with cheddar leek mashed potatoes and paired with Bust Head English Pale Ale

Dessert: Chestnut porter brownie, vanilla ice cream, porter infused chocolate sauce, paired with Chinquapin Chestnut Porter

Hoppin’ good stuff 
Most beer drinkers divide into two groups: Those who like a strong hop impact in their beer and those who prefer a more modest touch. The former folks are typically called “hop heads” and wear the moniker with pride. The rest of the beer world often wonders, “How can you drink that stuff?”

But beer without some hop impact would be tantamount to drinking Kool- Aid. Hops are a critical component of any beer. They contain an essential oil with a very bitter flavor. The bitterness counters the sweetness from the malt and creates a balanced libation. It also acts to preserve the brew.

One of the strongest of hoppy beers is called an India Pale Ale. It can contain 60, 70 or even 100 IBUs, or International Bittering Units; an industry measure of the hop strength.

Conversely, a pilsner or stout beer will contain 20 to 30 IBUs. Currently, much of the domestic hop cultivation occurs in Washington State but there is a nascent Virginia hop industry that will be producing some distinctive brews in the years ahead.

Published in the 2015 Fall edition of inFauquier magazine.

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