Charlie Buettner fits pretty well into the “Big O and Dukes” show’s demographic. Buettner is a 37-year old Northern Virginia native who went to West Springfield High, listened to WJFK in its guy-talk years, continues listening to 106.7 The Fan at work and loves beer, in the sense that he’s the head brewer at Falls Church’s Mad Fox Brewing Company.
About three years ago, Buettner was looking at Facebook while at the brewery and noticed that Chad Dukes was online. Dukes, as you likely know, once co-hosted the “Big O and Dukes” show, which lives on as a podcast and cultural movement. He’s now the co-host of the “LaVar and Dukes” show on 106.7 The Fan. And he’s a very vocal supporter of Virginia craft beer.
So Buettner wrote to Dukes that they should make a beer together. Dukes told Buettner to call him immediately.
Three years later, Mad Fox is set to release a new beer in collaboration with the “Big O and Dukes” show on May 16 at 9 p.m., the headline event for Mad Fox’s celebration of American Craft Beer Week. The brew’s name will be unveiled that night; fans have been voting on the 10 finalists, all of which make inside references to the show.
The beer’s style is a low-alcohol IPA that checks in at 4.9 percent ABV; Dukes was drinking the excellent Founders All Day IPA when Buettner once came over to fix his kegerator, which helped inspire the style.
“Low-hop bitterness but big-hop flavor,” is Buettner’s summary. “You can sit down and watch a three-hour game and enjoy a growler without getting blasted.”
Local brewers, of course, do all sorts of collaborations: with restaurants, with local brewers, with national brewers, and so on. But I don’t know how common it is for them to collaborate with podcasts.
“Virginia craft beer fans are die-hard Virginia craft beer fans,” Buettner told me. “If there’s Virginia craft beer available, that’s what they’re drinking before anything else. [Dukes is] quite a spokesperson for that. He’s got the voice, he’s got the ears, people are listening to him. He’s the perfect person to use not just for promotion for Mad Fox, but for promotion for Virginia craft.”
“It’s a dream come true,” Dukes told me, and he was being completely serious. “It’s like if anyone was a sports fan and they had their own bobblehead; that’s what I compare it to. I love beer, and as big a part of my life as it is, this is going to be a very big thing for me personally. That’s not sentimental at all; it’s exactly what I feel.”
Buettner made a full 30-barrel batch of the new beer, which comes out to just less than 1,000 gallons; he did that without any hesitation, based on his brewery’s following and the passionate fans of the show. It will be available exclusively at the brewpub for about a week before moving into beer-friendly bars in the District, and later in Virginia. The beer will be draft-only, and both Buettner and Dukes are confident that it will succeed.
“Our [insanely loyal listeners] will put a dent in that [large amount of beer],” Dukes said, except he used more colorful words. “Whenever these people come out, we drink them out of everything, which is why I’m planning on this being rather successful.”
“Definitely,” Buettner agreed. “Not just because of the names that are on it, but the style, the way the beer came out. This [style] is kind of all the rage; regardless of the name, the style is actually fitting what’s popular right now.”
But the names on it won’t hurt, either. If all goes as expected, Buettner and Dukes are already planning on another collaboration for a fall beer that could debut at the Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest; that could also be timed perfectly with the opening of Mad Fox’s planned outpost in Glover Park. And the concept does kind of make sense: associating a popular product with a popular media program that has an intensely dedicated fan base.
That said, I wouldn’t expect to find a This Show Stinks beer at your local tavern anytime soon.