It’s a flimsy connection to Washington beer, but it is a connection nonetheless. Back in 2011 I told the story of Chris Ray (read it). At that time, he was a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. Ray spearheaded Hops for Heroes, an initiative to raise funds and awareness for organizations providing assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. In 2011 Fremont Brewing produced the first batch of Homefront IPA with Chris Ray stirring the mash. The beer is now brewed annually by several breweries across the nation.
Back then, Chris Ray also told me that he was opening a brewery in Virginia called Center of the Universe Brewing (COTU Brewing). That dream was realized shortly thereafter and COTU Brewing is now a fixture on Virginia’s beer landscape.
Fast-forward to November of 2017 when the people of Virginia elected Ralph Northam as their governor. COTU Brewing recently announced that it is brewing the official beer for Governor Northam’s upcoming inauguration.
The beer, dubbed InagurALE, is described as a Belgian-style blonde ale brewed entirely with ingredients grown in Virginia. The grain was grown in the Northern Neck, a region of the state, and malted at Copper Fox, a local distillery that malts its own grain. The hops were grown at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens near Richmond. The yeast was harvested at Agriberry Farm in Hanover, then isolated and propagated by the scientists at Randolph Macon College.
That’s what makes this a cool story. A brewery in Virginia is making a beer using all local ingredients. Out here in Washington, where hops grow high and the hills are awash with amber waves of grain, we often take such a thing for granted. The amount of hops and grain grown in Virginia does not compare to what we grow here, and the amount of grain they malt at Copper Fox doesn’t compare to what they do at Great Northern Malt in Vancouver or even Skagit Valley Malt in Burlington, but it’s still pretty cool that COTU was able to produce a beer using all local ingredients.