The story of two homebrewers going into business as a brewery to make the styles that aren’t available in their region isn’t a new one in the annals of America’s craft brewing history. How that happened and what Aslin Beer actually became is a completely different story…
Opening the doors of their Herndon brewery/taproom in 2015, founders/brewers Kai Leszkowicz and Andrew Kelley, created a niche all their own in Northern Virginia – a small brewery focused on the styles they love to drink, which turn out to be Hazy IPAs. While the pair wanted to start production with a 10 barrel brewhouse, enabling them to distribute in the region, it wasn’t within their means at the start. Instead they began production as a 2 barrel nanobrewery, managing to crank out 700+ barrels of beer in their first year as a draft-only brewery.
In late 2016, the Fairfax County Fire Marshall shut down the taproom over a guest occupancy issue in their 2,200 sq ft space. According to the brewery, the area where their taproom is located should be zoned for 80 people, but Herndon claimed it to be 40. In January of 2017, the brewery upgraded to a 8.5 barrel brewhouse, then expanded production into the old taproom space as they began canning on-site. This model worked, as they sold nearly 6,000 barrels of beer directly to the general public in 2018.
While they never gave up on Herndon, announcing in July of 2017 that they were looking to open a new taproom, Aslin continued to have issues with the city, as well as their general contractor. The new location, a building they own which will feature a rooftop deck and a bocce court, is slated to open “in about a month” (according to Aslin) in downtown Herndon. Then, to truly expand by creating a sizable taproom plus a larger production space that now includes a barrel program, last July Aslin opened a new 30 barrel production facility and taproom down the road in Alexandria, VA.
Throughout all this, Aslin’s creations continue to be unique beasts. They’ve continually pushed the envelope of experimentation, while also adhering to the science of brewing, where often “less is more.” Yes, they were one of the earliest breweries to embrace a more “pastry” approach to beers, more specifically their unique Hazy IPAs such as Man Eat Toaster – a Cinnamon French Toast-inspired IPA with milk sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Yet they also keep their Hazy IPAs at a lower flaked oat/wheat content (10-20%) and utilize fewer malts that accomplish the same end as recipes with more.
This combination of adaptability amid expansion, creative experimentation, and a driving pursuit for exceptional beer has resulted in the creation of 400+ unique offerings over the past 5 years. And with this success, their beers – which were not long ago scarce in nearby Washington D.C., have now arrived in Oregon for the first time.
Ten different beers just started hitting shelves Thursday – a great cross-section of flavors that represents Aslin’s finest offerings today:
- Beer Drinking Is Not A Crime – 8.5% – a Double Dry Hopped Double IPA featuring Nelson and Citra hops. The combination of these two hops creates a huge pillowy mouthfeel. The Citra lends the flavors of brite orange and orange peel, while the Nelson smells of dank wine grapes.
- De Gens – 5.4% – a hop-accentuated German Style Pilsner with light lemon, pale honey sweetness and a crisp toasted bread, graham cracker-like malt character that deftly balances the dry-hopped treatment of Hallertau Mittlefrüh and Callista.
- Double Orange Starfish – 8.3% – Double India Pale Ale Double Dry Hopped with Citra & Galaxy.
- Genius Kitchen – 15% – an Imperial Stout w/ nutella, coffee, maple, cinnamon, & strawberry. This beer is based off one of our favorite breakfast foods, FRENCH TOAST, and we took it to the next level and stuffed it with strawberry and nutella!
- Honeymoon Pajamas – 8.5% – a Double IPA brewed with new, experimental New Zealand hops. We’re getting hints of lime, juicy passionfruit, lemon zest & candied melon. A creamy, smooth texture makes for a delicious DIPA that beckons you with that “come hither” hazy-orange look that none can resist.
- Master of Karate – 8.4% – this is one of our OGs. This beer is karate chopped (aka dry hopped heavily) with Mosaic, Galaxy, & Amarillo. The result is a ninja star in the form of a beer or mango juice!
- Master of Oranges – 8.4% – this beer is the love affair of Master of Karate and Double Orange Starfish! Master of Oranges is generously double dry hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic, Citra, & Amarillo!
- Runaway Train – 6.8% – an India Pale Ale, loaded up with Motueka & Nelson hops for a delicious ride of Lemon-Lime, Gooseberry, White Wine, & Peach notes.
- Stripes – 15% – a Neapolitan Imperial Stout, or as Travis likes to call it, a Metropolitan or Metro Stout. This Stout is a young male with liberal political views, an interest in fashion, and a refined sense of taste. So much so that each flavor in your classic Neapolitan comes through in stunning and meticulous fashion.
- Volcano Sauce – 6% – a fruited pastry sour featuring blackberries, blueberries, milk sugar, and vanilla.
Content for this article sourced from Craft Beer and Brewing Podcast, Brightest Young Things, Northern Virginia Magazine, BeerAdvocate, Eater Washington D.C.