Altered Suds Brewpub
Photos by Kara Thorpe
If you enjoy trying uniquely crafted, freshly brewed, flavorful beer while relaxing in a real beer cellar, you need go no farther than to Altered Suds, Warrenton’s new brewpub located below Molly’s Irish Pub in Old Town Warrenton.
The goal of owners Corey Ross, Jay Bergantim, and Casey Ward is to create “a chill environment where people can just sit and enjoy their beer.” For brewmasters Corey and Jay, the focus is on the quality of the beers they brew. All the beer is brewed on premises, with about 8-10 different varieties on tap at any one time.
The large, high-ceilinged open space contains a long bar stocked with beer to suit almost any taste, and many tables to sit and socialize. There is a large screen tv on one wall, but it doesn’t overpower the space either visually or sound-wise. Also noteworthy are the four large vats for fermenting, which give the brewpub an authentic atmosphere. While most people see the sign and enter from the Main Street entrance near Molly’s, there is a second, more accessible entrance on South Second Street that doesn’t involve stairs.
During my recent visit, Corey offered me a seat at the bar and, not surprisingly, asked me what I would like to drink from his selection of craft beers. When I mentioned that I was personally not much of a beer man, he suggested that I might be surprised to find some of his beers would suit my taste, including some light, low calorie, gluten-free brews. Skimming his list, I selected one that fit that description, called Altered Ginger Beer, which I found quite tasty and refreshing.
“That’s the idea,” said Casey. “We want to have something for everyone.” Even though Corey and Jay prefer drinking and brewing hoppy style beer themselves, the goal is to have a selection of dark beers, light beers, Belgian beers, Gose, and IPAs. “We’re both beer connoisseurs, we enjoy and respect every style of beer, and we stay close to style when we are brewing.”
The beer menu is constantly changing and evolving, with one or two beers released every week. “Right now, since we’re on a small system, we’ve been doing a lot of ales, because they only take about two and a half weeks to brew. But soon we’ll start doing lagers and other styles.”
Currently, their flagship beer is Stuck in Half Life, a light grolsch. Their number one IPA is a heavy duty beer named Late to the Party. Also selling well is Assemblage Point, another IPA. “IPAs are huge right now,” Corey said.
As you can tell, almost as much creativity goes into naming the beers as into brewing them. “Jay and I come up with the names, we just have fun with it — that’s one of our favorite parts.” Other names for their creations include Wizard Elixir, Dipped in Moonlight, Just Drink the Damn Thing, and Safe When Taken as Directed.
I had to ask, how did the owners decide on the name Altered Suds? It seems the owners chose to draw the name from a law called the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516, which dictated that only water, barley, and hops were to be used to brew beer (yeast was added to the list centuries later). So, if a brewer was to use other ingredients, they would be creating an “altered” beer, hence the name “Altered Suds.”
Corey, who grew up in Fauquier, told me that starting his own brewery had been a long-time dream. He started home brewing when he was only 21 and studied brewing via the Siebel Institute of Technology located in Chicago. After working at another local brewery, Corey met co-owner Jay at the Barrel Oak Tap Room, where they recognized they had similar goals, and decided to go into business together. Jay had come from Massachusetts, where he had been at a brewery in Martha’s Vineyard, the popular resort area previously frequented by the Kennedy family.
While visiting Molly’s Pub together, Molly’s owner Casey mentioned to them there was a large vacant cellar available just below that might be of interest. It had not been used for many years, although previously it had housed a frame shop. Years ago, the space reportedly had been used as a funeral home.
Visiting the cellar, they discovered it was completely empty and would require considerable time and effort to refurbish before they could start their business there, but otherwise it was perfect! The two young entrepreneurs dived into their project and were able to open just four months ago, On September 12. In the time they have been there, no paranormal activity has been detected, despite the building’s former purpose.
As with most wineries and breweries, guests are welcome to bring their own food and snacks, but Altered Suds also offers a limited menu from Molly’s which includes light snacks, sandwiches, and fish and chips.
Altered Suds is located at 36 Main Street and is open every day of the week. Mon-Tues, 3 to 9 pm; Wed-Thurs, 3 to 10 pm; Friday 3 to 11 pm; Sat noon to 11 pm and Sun noon to 8 pm.