Journey to Center of the Universe Brewing

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland, VA.  Brothers Chris and Phil Ray along with head brewer Mike Killelea lead Edmond Medina (@va_beergeek; read his take here) and myself on a tour of the site with our first stop being the 60 seat tasting room with a freshly finished bar and one prototype tap handle. It’s a pretty awesome looking taphandle!

With the recently installed fermentors and bright tanks in place, the only thing that was missing from main brewhouse was their 15 barrel brew system. Although it was delivered the next morning, it will take some time to get it fully installed and tested.

Once COTU is up and running what type of beers can you expect to see from them.   I can’t tell you exactly but here are a few tidbits:

  • Hanover water quality perfect for delicate styles
  • German & English malts were have been received
  • Non filtered beers
  • Targeting four year round beers; pale ale & IPA (possibly West Coast style) vying for first two slots
  • Access to family farm to source hops, pumpkins, and maybe tomatoes. Yes, I’ve warmed to the idea of a tomato beer.
  • Homefront IPA for Chris Ray’s charity Hops for Heroes available Memorial Day 2013.  COTU joins Cigar City, Perennial Artisan Ales, Fremont, SlyFox, St. Arnold’s, and 21st Amendment breweries to make this a nationwide effort.  Proceeds from each beer goes to local Operation Homefront chapter.

At the end of the day, COTU has a lot going for them.  Chris and Phil have an endless amount of enthusiasm for taking their love of homebrewing to craft brewing.  Mike Killelea praised the brothers for their well developed homebrew recipes that we may see in some form. 

Center of the Universe Brewing will open their doors in November.  I encourage you to take a trip up and check them out.  For now, Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for announcements and pictures detailing their progress.

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