The Fredericksburg area’s first craft brewery has a new owner.
Blue & Gray Brewing Co. in Spotsylvania County has been sold to Adventure Brewing Co. in Stafford County.
Blue and Gray opened in 2002 and is the oldest craft brewery in the Fredericksburg region.
“After 15 years of brewing, I’m ready to move on and do something different.” said Blue and Gray’s founder, Jeff Fitzpatrick. "I’ve enjoyed the last 15 years. It’s been fun being part of the brewery and setting up the base.”
Fitzpatrick blazed a trail for craft beer in the Fredericksburg region, which now has eight microbreweries.
“I think I’ve achieved what I set out to do: Establish a solid local brewery here in Fredericksburg,” he said.
The changes at Blue and Gray won’t be immediate because of federal and state licensing laws.
Lee’s Retreat Brewpub, the restaurant at Blue & Gray, will keep its winter hours and still host private events.
After the transition, some of Blue & Gray’s most popular beers — Fred Red, Stonewall Stout and some imperial stouts and barrel-aged beers — will still be made by Adventure.
Adventure Brewing opened in May 2014 and is run by Tim Bornholtz, Stan Johnson and John Viarella — three Stafford County residents who started as homebrewers.
Blue & Gray’s facility at the Bowman Center will become Adventure’s production brewery, Bornholtz said. Adventure has outgrown its three-barrel brewing system.
Blue & Gray has a 20-barrel system, which will allow Adventure to keep up with demand: producing beer for its tasting room and distribution to local restaurants. Adventure also plans to can more of its beer.
“The biggest thing is we have to make more beer,” Bornholtz said. “We needed to do something.”
He said the logical choice was to buy a system that was already operational because it would allow them to get more beer to market faster.
What Adventure produces in a week will be produced in a day on Blue & Gray’s equipment.
Adventure plans to retain Blue & Gray’s brewer Cody Natale and some of the other staff.
Bornholtz said the goal is to have no down time in beer production during the transition. About half the beer produced will be canned, he said.
He said there are no plans to make changes to Adventure’s tasting room on Perchwood Drive in Stafford. The brewing system there will be used to test recipes.
Blue & Gray’s Fitzpatrick said selling to Adventure seemed logical.
“The Adventure acquisition of Blue and Gray is really a boon for the local area, for people that know and love craft beer,” he said.
He’s known Adventure’s owners since before they opened their own brewery.
He said the expansion of Adventure will keep the local flavors that his customers love, but also allows for new and different beers to be made.