Once a guitarist in Nashville, Geoff Logan hits high note as local brewmaster

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Geoff Logan (Brandy Centolanza)
Geoff Logan (Brandy Centolanza)

Craft beer is having a moment, and Geoff Logan couldn’t be happier.

Logan is brewmaster and managing director of AleWerks Brewing Company, which turned ten this year. The brewery celebrated its anniversary in August with a festival featuring music, fun, food, and, of course, beer.

“Right now, it is an exciting time to be a beer enthusiast,” Logan said. “Ten years ago, it was hard to get people to even know we existed. But now, we have the benefits of other breweries in town to help educate potential consumers and get the word out.”

Logan, a native of Delaware, first came to the area in 2006 when he joined the Norfolk-based band Rainmarket as a guitarist. The band went on tour, performing rock and pop music at various bar and restaurant venues before trying its luck at fame and fortune in Nashville. Unsuccessful, band members went their separate ways, and Logan returned to Virginia.

That’s when his brother, George, encouraged Logan to try his hand at home-brewing his own beer.

“I liked beer, and I started tinkering around with Mr. Beer kits,” Logan recalled. He later underwent intensive training at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont after being hired at AleWerks in 2007.

“I’ve been brewing like crazy ever since,” he said.

As brewmaster, Logan is responsible for all the brewery’s popular recipes. AleWerks’ best-sellers include the American Tavern Brown Ale, Chesapeake Ale, and the autumn seasonal Pumpkin Ale. The brewery also has a Munich-style Helles, a porter, a few IPAs, and two other seasonal beers, Coffeehouse Stout in the winter and White Ale in the spring. On any given day, the taproom is full, and tours of the brewery are also available.

Earlier this year, Logan was also named managing director. His duties now also include managing a staff of 25 employees, inventory management, maintaining distributor and investor relations as well as planning for the future of the company as a member of the board of directors.

Logan is in charge of for ordering the ingredients used for brewing the beer. Most of the brewery’s hops are shipped long-distance from places like Oregon, Washington, and Germany, although AleWerks recently introduced Fresh Hop IPA, a beer that is made with local hops from farms in Richmond and the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

“It is really neat to be able to use hops from local farms,” Logan said. “We would love to source as many local ingredients as possible in an effort to support our Virginia agriculture.”

The brewery is also about to release another highly anticipated fall beer, Imperial Pumpkin Ale, a stronger version of the original Pumpkin Ale that has been aged in bourbon barrels.

“I enjoy what I do. There are new challenges every day, new problems to solve, and that is never boring. And just think at the end of the day, there is always a beer waiting for you,” Logan said.

His favorite Alewerks beer is Chesapeake Pale Ale.

“It just goes with everything,” he said.

However, if the brewery is working on a new product, “you’ll often find me drinking that one to make sure it’s dialed in before we release the beer,” he said.

Since it began in 2006, AleWerks’ popularity has surged, with product now being sold all across Virginia and in North Carolina, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia. Patrons have been known to make the trek from far off places to Williamsburg for some of their more obscure beers including Café Royale, a Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Milk Stout.

“It’s been a humbling experience, and we are very grateful,” Logan said.

AleWerks also has a partnership with Colonial Williamsburg, and makes four historic brews exclusively for the taverns there.

“That’s been a lot of fun,” Logan said.

Logan is a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, the American Society of Brewing Chemists, the Brewers Association, and the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild. He is also part of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, which is working to promote the local craft beverage scene in town.

“It’s about education, tourism, and supporting the local economy,” he said. “I hope the popularity of craft beer continues to grow. It’s a thrill to be a part of such an exciting industry.”

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