Fair Winds Brewing launched in March, and it didn’t take long for the Lorton brewery’s hoppy and flavorful saisions and IPAs to win fans. The Howling Gale IPA was an early head-turner, but brewers Charlie Buettner, a veteran of Mad Fox Brewing, and Will Cook, formerly of Port City Brewing, crafted a series of beers — kölsch, helles, Flemish stout – that helped Fair Winds spread rapidly throughout Northern Virginia, showing up on draft at sports bars, wing spots and Whole Foods growler stations.
But in the District, Fair Winds has been hard to find. The brewery’s beers have made regular appearances on tap at Meridian Pint and Smoke & Barrel, and they’ve been featured at special events, such as DC Beer Week and the Heurich House Museum’s History and Hops events, but Fair Winds been slow to expand to bars “beyond the craft-only crowd,” says brewery founder Casey Jones.
That’s about to change, thanks to a new deal with Premium Distributors, the company responsible for supplying Miller, Coors, Samuel Adams and New Belgium, among others, to D.C. bars. Jones says three of the company’s flagship beers — Howling Gale, Sessions in the Abyss session IPA and Quayside Kölsch — should be easily found around the city, and additional choices, such as the brand-new Oktoberfest beer Nautifest, “will depend on demand, and that is almost impossible to predict before residents get a chance to get access to our beer.”
For now, all beers will be draft only, though the brewery hopes to begin canning Howling Gale and Quayside by the end of the year, Jones says.
(For the widest selection of Fair Winds beers without visiting the brewery taproom, hit one of the launch parties, which take place Monday, Sept. 21, at ChurchKey, Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Buffalo Billiards and Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Fadó Irish Pub.)
Of the trio of Fair Winds drafts coming to the District this week, I’m most drawn to Sessions in the Abyss. It’s named after Slayer’s seminal album “Seasons in the Abyss” — both brewers are fans of the thrash-metal pioneers — but it’s not a headbanger of a beer. The bright orange-peel and pineapple flavors of the Citra and Amarillo hops jump onto your tongue; the body is smooth, thanks to oat malt; and there’s a pleasant bitterness in the finish. Overall, it’s a satisfying IPA.
Sessions in the Abyss is only 4.5 percent ABV, lower than Budweiser and other big producers, though it packs significantly more flavor into a golden orange package. Session IPAs have become more common in recent years, but this stands out as my favorite local example.
Fair Winds Brewing, 7000 Newington Rd., Lorton. www.fairwindsbrewing.com. Expect to pay $6-$7 for Sessions in the Abyss on tap. — Fritz Hahn