Business, News

After 9 Years, Mad Fox Brewing Will Close This Month

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After nine years, Bill Madden (second from left) announced his Falls Church brew pub will close this month. (News-Press photo)

Mad Fox Brewing Company, which will celebrate its ninth anniversary on Saturday, announced this week that it will shutter before the end of the month. In a Facebook post Tuesday, Mad Fox founder, CEO and executive brewer Bill Madden said the Falls Church brew pub’s last day of business will be Sunday, July 21.

In the closing announcement, Madden cited the difficulties with the brewpub business model and the rise of breweries in the surrounding area contributing to an “extremely competitive craft beer market.”

“When we opened in 2010, there were 40 breweries in Virginia. Now there are close to 250,” Madden said in the post. “The Brewpub business model is a tough one to maintain compared to a Brewery Taproom with little overhead, lower rents and outsourced food trucks. Our draw from the surrounding areas has dwindled in what has become an extremely competitive craft beer market, which has resulted in this final decision.”

Mad Fox opened to much fanfare in July of 2010 at The Spectrum mixed-use development, the first brewery in the City of Falls Church and the first solo venture from Madden, a former brewer at Capital City Brewery and Vintage 50 Restaurant and Bar Lounge. During its Falls Church run, Mad Fox’s beers have won numerous awards including a gold medal for its Kellerbier Kolsch at the 2011 Great American Beer festival.

Since its opening, the craft brew industry has exploded in Virginia, with microbreweries popping up throughout the area including Audacious Aleworks, a nanobrewery less than a mile from Mad Fox, and Settle Down Easy Brewing Company just 2.5 miles away.

In addition to the Falls Church location, Mad Fox’s award-winning brews have been on tap at bars and restaurants throughout the D.C. area including, for the last six years, at Nationals Park. And in 2015, Madden and co. opened a Washington, D.C. outpost, dubbed Mad Fox Taproom, which had a short run in the neighborhood of Glover Park before closing less than three years later.

Over the years, Mad Fox has been known for its beer events, including its annual barleywine and Oktoberfest festivals, as well as its collaborations with local businesses like Falls Church Distillers, The Neighborhood Barbershop, Rock Star Real Estate and Rare Bird Coffee Roasters. They even brewed a beer honoring former Falls Church teacher and vice mayor Lindy Hockenberry, called Lindy’s Weiss, a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen.

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“We’ve loved being a part of the Falls Church community,” Madden told the News-Press. “We’ve had a great run.”

Madden says his favorite memories of the nine-year stretch are of his employees.

“I’ve watched kids graduate from college, turn 21, get married, have kids,” the brewmaster says.  “It’s been nine years of wonderful employees. The Mad Fox family continues.”

Madden says he’s also proud to see the success of many of his former brewers who have moved on to take over operations of their own. His proteges include Fair Winds head brewer Charlie Buettner (one of Mad Fox’s first-ever employees), Brad Hulewicz, head brewer at Pro Re Nata in Crozet, Virginia and Matt Ryan who leads Nokesville’s Cedar Run Brewery.

At the moment, Madden doesn’t have any plans for his brewing future though if he does continue, he says it’ll most likely be in a supervisory role as opposed to in the day-to-day operations of running a brewery. 

“I’m getting on in age. ” Madden says. “Slinging malt and cleaning out mash drums, it’s a lot.”

And while this Saturday’s ninth anniversary party will be bittersweet, Madden intends to go out with a bang. 

“It’ll be no holds barred,” he says. “We’re bringing out everything I’ve been saving.” That includes the seven-year-old Batch 300 and a selection of barleywines including a batch of Slobberknocker. Madden says he’s also cooling down the final run of fan-favorite Orange Whip which he hopes to get on tap by Friday.

In the wake of the closing news, there was an outpouring of support and well-wishes on social media from D.C.-area journalists, bars and breweries.

Fritz Hahn, who covers the area’s beer and bar scene for the Washington Post, responded to the news on Twitter writing “Oof, this hurts,” adding “Their beer and festivals will be missed.”

Falls Church’s Settle Down Easy Brewing changed their Facebook picture to the Mad Fox logo Tuesday and posted “We at SDE are very sad to hear the closing of Mad Fox in Falls Church… please visit them and thank them for all they have done for the brewing community.”

“We are honored to have shared great beer collaborations with Mad Fox Brewing,” Meridian Pint, an Arlington restaurant and craft beer bar, wrote on Instagram. “We wish them the best in the next chapter of their lives.”

As for the future of the Mad Fox brand, Madden says there are a lot of investors involved so it’s difficult to think it will carry on.

“I’m not saying it’s the end but I’m not sure where we will be going,” Madden says. “We’ve got to get through the closure and then see where we are.”

Mad Fox Brewing Company’s ninth anniversary party is this Saturday, starting at 11 a.m., at 444 W. Broad St. in Falls Church.

Mad Fox CEO Bill Madden’s announcement:

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July 9, 2019

Friends, Patrons and Supporters,

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I inform you of the closure of Mad Fox Brewing Company. Our last day of business will be Sunday, July 21st.

The decision to close has been an extremely difficult one to make. We have witnessed restaurant competition in the 2.2 square mile Falls Church City become fierce since our opening in 2010 with multiple businesses opening in the last year alone. As much as we tried to compete, there are an overwhelming number of choices for the local population. Sales have been on a slow decline over the last several years and, unfortunately, staying open is no longer sustainable.

On the brewing side of our business we continue to see more breweries opening in Virginia with two new Taprooms setting up shop within a mile of Mad Fox in the last year. When we opened in 2010, there were 40 breweries in Virginia. Now there are close to 250. The Brewpub business model is a tough one to maintain compared to a Brewery Taproom with little overhead, lower rents and outsourced food trucks. Our draw from the surrounding areas has dwindled in what has become an extremely competitive craft beer market, which has resulted in this final decision.

We attempted to work with our Bank and our Landlord for more favorable terms and while both were willing, we ultimately could not come to agreement that would allow Mad Fox to be break even or better.

We plan a closure date of Sunday, July 21st; however, we plan to continue with our 9 year Anniversary Party on Saturday, 13 July to honor you, our investors, our staff and the Falls Church Community. Words cannot express how proud I am of the Mad Fox legacy and the opportunity to be a member of such a wonderful community, if even for a short while. We opened the first brewpub in the City of Falls Church and have won numerous medals at the Great American Beer Festival as well as the Virginia Beer Cup. We have celebrated christenings, birthdays, weddings, retirements and many holiday gatherings. You, our guests, along with our spectacular Mad Fox team have enabled us to build tremendous notoriety over 9 years in business. I thank you for allowing Mad Fox to be a part of your lives. Thank you for your years of support and I hope to see you at the Pub in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Bill Madden
CEO and Executive Brewer, Mad Fox Brewing Company

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