Alexandria’s Cabinet Artisanal Brewhouse embraces the strange – The Alexandria Times
The former Shenandoah Brewing Co. location (I didn’t know that it closed; I brewed beer with my alumni chapter there in 2002 or so) has become Cabinet Artisanal Brewhouse with emphasis on the “art” rather than the science of brewing.
“We’re here in the industrial side of Alexandria, but we’re just a basic, rustic farmhouse [brewery]. It’s a strange scenario. I like to embrace the strange….”
Though not operating at full steam yet, Hawbaker’s already brewing farmhouse ales, playing with a strain of yeast he’s particularly proud of and experimenting with wild bacteria — “I’ve been called a bug collector,” he said. If you had to pigeonhole what Hawbaker’s crafting it would be something akin to saisons.
“It’s very rustic and flavorful,” Hawbaker said. “They can be very dry, not real heavy or rich. A lot of guys focus on bigger beers. I do some strong beers, but our main focus is really on lower alcohol beers that are really flavorful.”
Farmhouse beers aren’t technically anything new. The style harkens back to a time before the industrial revolution, said Greg Engert, the local Neighborhood Food Group’s beer director, when farmers home brewed regularly.
“Beer was the mainstay of everyday life in a lot of areas where grain grew better than apples or grapes because water wasn’t totable all that well,” he said. “Until the 19th century, beer was the drink of everyday life.”
The consolidation of breweries, advent of sanitation and new technology combined to sideline the older way of making beer, but craft brewers increasingly are returning to the older methods. By eschewing a temperature controlled fermentation process, Hawbaker takes it a step further.
Just early today, I was noting on Twitter with @thefolkist that it was getting hard to keep track of all the breweries in the D.C. area that have popped up. This is the second one in the city of Alexandria (I toured the other, Port City, recently and need to get that post up) with another coming in the next few years. This one should be interesting.