Jay’s Brewing fueling craft beer ascendancy

By Posted on Oct 24 2019 | By

Manassas shop essential for homebrewers

In 1980 there were 80 craft breweries in the United States. Today, over 7,500 dot our sudsy landscape. Even small towns and villages often sport a wee brewhouse where locals gather to quaff artisan beer.

There’s never been a better time to hoist flavorful brews that are the polar opposite of the watery libations that have dominated our domestic beer world for decades.

What triggered the shift from quantity to quality?


In 1979, a Federal law was enacted permitting brewing at home. States vary on exactly how much is allowed; in Virginia, it’s 200 gallons annually for a two-adult household. That’s over 2,000 bottles.

But please, don’t go there unless you’re sharing.

With such dramatic growth many nascent brewers began to realize, “Hey, my stuff tastes pretty good. Maybe I should go commercial”, which they did in droves resulting in today’s commercial craft beer explosion.

It’s a classic example of free enterprise coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit being unleashed by market opportunity.

There are now 1.2 million homebrewers scattered across all 50 states with new adherents joining the hop army daily.

For almost two decades Jay’s Brewing, located in the Triangle Shopping Center at 9790 Center St. has been producing the fuel that has helped homebrewing become so popular: barley, hops, yeast and more.

Jay’s is one of over 800 such supply shops nationwide. It’s an industry craft beer lover’s
should be thankful for. The role these stores have played since the early 1980s has helped catapult the U.S. to the forefront of artisanal beer worldwide.

In the beginning
Jay’s brewing is co-owned by Thomas and Jill Boman. The Manassas couple is the third proprietors of the business that opened in 2002. As with many small businesses passion led to ownership.

“As a homebrewer, I frequented the shop and got to know the previous owner well. He was ready to move on as entrepreneurs often are and we worked a deal to take over the shop.

“I work full-time in the cybersecurity field so the decision to purchase the business was made equally between Jill and I. Since I work full-time it’s Jill who is largely the face of the business. It’s a lot of work and she does a great job,” says Boman.

The “lot of work” began even before they started filling customer orders. The previous owner’s inventory ran on the basic side with numerous items collateral to the hobby not well represented.

Today the shop has hundreds of homebrewing and home winemaking products. The soul of the shop is its extensive selection of barley and yeasts which are the foundation of most beers.

The “suds” couple live in Manassas and are the parents of three young children providing a challenge to running the small business. Jill Bowman, like her husband, is knowledgeable and ever ready with suggestions and advice.

As a homebrewer delves deeper into the hobby, he or she is drawn to tinkering with recipes. At Jay’s, there are over 350 recipes to choose from and with additional input from the owners, thousands of variations are possible.

One group the store takes pride in supporting is Downright Obsessed Homebrewers. Created in 2006 the club has over 50 members and is one of the most popular brewing clubs in the area.

It also has members who are professional brewers. To join the club is find to yourself surrounded by beer talent ready to offer camaraderie and advice on improving one’s brewskis. Visit http://www.dohnova.com/ to learn more about this free “graduate school” of brewing.

The draw of homebrewing is the creativity and satisfaction in making a delicious beer that can rival store-bought products. “Wow! You made this beer?”, is an often-heard expression when a homebrewer hands a buddy one of his latest creations.

Newbies often start with simple kits that require minimal brewing knowledge. If you can bake brownies out of a box, you can create a flavorful beer. Especially under the guidance of the Boman’s.

In addition to the ingredients needed for brewing at home, the shop has an extensive equipment inventory that includes kettles, burners, fermenters, kegs, tubing, bottles, and more. If it’s related to homebrewing, it’s in the shop.

The latest addition to the business is its newly minted ABC license that permits the sale of commercial craft beer. Can’t wait to drink that clone of your favorite IPA you’re about to make? Simply grab a six-pack of it along with the necessary ingredients and sip your role model while creating the real deal at home.

Jay’s Brewing is open six days a week and closed on Sundays. Visit their digital store at https://www.jaysbrewing.com/ to learn more about the enjoyable world of homebrewing and home winemaking.

Published in the September 12, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

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