as the leaves begin to turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and brown
in the fall, Octoberfest is not far behind. Keeping this in mind, what
better place to explore than Old Dominion Brewery in Ashburn, Virginia?
Here a free tour will help you learn more about process of making beer,
the magical brew that has captivated millions enough to have a celebration
in which it holds a special place of honor.
The brewery is tucked away amongst the stereotypical office buildings.
Yet, what is to be found inside is anything but typical. The tour begins
inside the Old Dominion Brewpub. Perhaps you might want to grab a bite
of lunch here. The prices are reasonable and judging from the crowds,
it is a fairly popular eating establishment. The atmosphere is what you
would expect with high ceilings and large glass windows giving you a glimpse
of the bottling process.
our group had loosely assembled, we were greeted by our tour guide Kenny,
who led us outside to the building in which the actual brewing took place.
We were then each handed a glass and the tour started with a free sample
of beer. We were able to sample their Octoberfest beer before it had been
put on the market. For those who preferred (or those designated drivers),
he also offered a sample of Old Dominion Root Beer. We then entered the
world of the brew master and learned the wondrous tale of how four simple
ingredients - grain, water, hops, and yeast ultimately turn into beer.
The first stop in the process is the hopper, where grain is mixed with
water and heated to create complex starches and finally sugar. The next
stop for the mix is the brew kettle, where the mixture is again heated
and hops are added to give the beer its aroma. Technically speaking, after
this process is completed, the mix is now call Wort. If this weren't enough,
the process continues as the liquid is then sent through a centrifuge
and a heat exchanger, to finally rest for a few days in a large fermenting
is here, in this fermenting vessel that the real unsung hero of the entire
process, yeast, now begins its labor of love. It rests quietly at the
bottom of the tank basically in hibernation until it recognizes the sugar
and wakes up to feast. In preparation for dinner, the yeast thins its
cell walls to become lighter than the solution and take the sugar inside.
The byproducts of its feasting are alcohol and CO2. After several days,
the yeast becomes "full" and recognizes that it has eaten all
the sugars. The cell walls begin to thicken and it becomes heavier than
the solution. Then they are sucked out to be reused selflessly in batch
after batch until they retire. Apparently they can last up to 20 batches
and then they will begin to mutate. Who wouldn't after that much beer?
Once the beer leaves the fermenting tanks, it reaches the final stage
of the process in which it is cooled and filtered once again. At this
point any adjustments to the carbonation can be made. Then the result
is ready to be bottled.
ends the long arduous journey of the four ingredients to make beer, as
well as our visit. Old Dominion Brewery offers tours on Saturdays at noon,
2:00 and 4:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. The entire tour lasts about a
half an hour. It will offer you a whole new appreciation for the art of
brewing. What a great way to spend an afternoon. Just remember to drink