Brewing up a storm at Old Bust Head

By Posted on Aug 09 2018 | By

Vint Hill barley & hop factory centered on tap handles and community

Surfing on an ocean of beer might be an apt description for Old Bust Head Brewing Company. Since opening on August 11, 2014, the popular brewery has produced 20,000 barrels of beer. That’s five million pints; a bit more than the proverbial 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

About 12 percent of that production is brewed for other breweries who lack capacity or for retail accounts who desire an “in-house” brand. Some 25 percent flows out of its taproom kegs with the remaining being distributed to restaurants and grocery stores throughout Virginia and D.C.

The three founders and managing partners, Ike and Julie Broaddus and Charles Kling, view their performance to date as an opening act. The firm will celebrate their fourth anniversary with plans to continue building their juggernaut while deepening ties with Fauquier County.

“We’re grateful for our loyal customers and have confidence that if we keep making great beer and providing a fun, family-oriented environment, we’ll be around for decades to come,” said Ike Broaddus.

Averaging 1,500 guests a week in its taproom, some 300,000 people have enjoyed the company’s flavorful beers since opening day. Equally important, a vibrant business community has sprung up around the establishment with no signs of abating.

“Since the brewery opened its doors, more than 20 businesses have moved into one of the renovated buildings surrounding OBG,” said Ike Broaddus. “We didn’t expect that but we’re thrilled to be part of it.”

Being part of it is an understatement. The brewery itself ignited the entrepreneurial spirit that flourishes on the former army base.

When the building that houses the brewery was purchased it included 10 acres of other buildings in the immediate area. A combination of increased traffic flow and savvy marketing saw those acres bloom with a variety of businesses that grew in tandem with Old Bust Head.

“Once the brewery came a lot of people were coming to Vint Hill,” said Julie Broaddus. “The parking lot was full every weekend.” Customers realized other businesses were nearby and they began patronizing them. “We were the catalyst for their growth.”

Recognizing the potential, the Broaddus’ purchased an additional ten acres of buildings in Vint Hill less than two years ago—including some historic barns that date to the original cattle farm. They continue to find viable businesses to lease them.

Working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources the Broaddus’ will have plaques installed on the barns in September acknowledging their historical importance.

“Ike has expanded his love of Vint Hill and has been renovating and leasing space for even more businesses to come in. We do not flip the buildings. We were worried about what a developer might do to those buildings that would impact the feel of the community,” said Julie Broaddus.

Today, there is a fermented tea shop, café, coffee shop, gymnastic studio, dance studio, catering company, wine distributor, graphic design studio, hair salon, the previously established Cold War Museum and more. The Broaddus’ renovated space for most of them and leased it to the divergent group to create a thriving business environment.

“One of Ike’s talents is helping people start and build a successful business. He enables people to come and make a success of their business. That’s mostly what he is doing now,” said Julie Broaddus who spends her time running the brewery.

All of this activity was unfolding as the craft beer industry was beginning to cool off after years of torrid growth. There are over 6,000 craft breweries in the U.S. today and some 250 in Virginia.

“We were the 40th brewery in Virginia four years ago. We have to keep inventing new recipes and exploring new styles,” said Ike Broaddus.

Be assured OBH will be working hard to maintain market share. The owners have the smarts and work ethic to stay relevant during any shakeout.

Taproom tiger
With Ike Broaddus focused on the Vint Hill business community at large, Julie manages the day-to-day brewery operation. The production team is headed by Charles Kling, their award-winning master brewer, and head brewer Thorne Watkins.

To help celebrate the upcoming fourth anniversary, a special Belgian Quad will be released. It’s a high gravity beer—weighing in at 11 percent alcohol—that exhibits a “bold, dark and rich malty” flavor.

“Everyone here is really excited about it. It will have a special anniversary wax seal. We’ll have it on tap and in 500 milliliter bottles,” said Julie Broaddus. Their ever-popular Octoberfest will be released the same day.

But an anniversary can only be special in certain ways since every week sees a swirl of events unfold in the taproom. There is live music every Saturday, trivia night each Wednesday and “Grab your growler” on Thursdays.

The latter event recognized many customers had accumulated several growlers. On Thursdays they can bring them in and receive discounts based on how many they have.

For what may be a first, once a month a yoga class meets at the brewery. And on Valentine’s Day a crowd favorite is the chocolate truffle and beer pairing event. “We have over 100 events a year,” Julie Broaddus said.

Regardless of the day of the week, one of the biggest challenges facing a thirsty beer hound is what beer to choose. OBH doesn’t make it easy. There are 18 to 20 beers on tap at any given time. Decision making has never been more fun.

The brewery has felt the impact of growing competition since opening. “We definitely noticed other beer options out there. But we’ve always been about Fauquier County. It’s been about our community, the environment and the beer. Every day I get at least one Google five-star review in my mailbox,” said Julie Broaddus.

She believes other breweries can’t compete with the quality of their beer and the attention they dedicate to the local community. “You can’t pretend to be genuine if you are not. We work hard to create a place that makes our guests comfortable. Fauquier has a unique sense of place that we respect,” said Julie Broaddus.

It also helps that the beer taps are constantly rotating with new brews. One of the most popular is their Irish Style Red Ale and has been served since day one.

In addition to the taproom, there is a beer garden out front and seating out back. Food is available from food trucks Thursday through Sunday. On Wednesdays, the Covert Cafe delivers anything on its menu directly to guests’ tables.

“We have Moo Thru ice cream and Monkey Popcorn every day and customers are always welcome to bring their own picnic,” said Julie Broaddus.

On busy days the entire brewery can seat up to 600 people.

In reflecting on the exciting past four years, Julie Broaddus said, “It was a big decision to open the brewery. For me it was like having a baby. If you do it, you have to be committed. I knew the brewery would be like that to me. And it’s become completely true.

“If you put your heart into it, it gives you great returns. It becomes ingrained in who you are.”

For more information on Old Bust Head Brewing Company’s hours, events, beers and more drop by


Published in the August 15, 2018 edition of Fauquier Times. 


Categories : HAGARTY TALES