After nine years of manufacturing high-quality world-class beer, brewing legend Bill Madden is closing his Mad Fox Brewing Company on July 21. We reached out to leaders of the region’s robust brewing scene for their memories and thoughts about Bill.
Matt Ryan, Head Brewer Cedar Run Brewery formerly at Mad Fox Brewing Company
It was an honor to get a chance to work with Bill and be a part of what I’d consider one of the DMV beer scene’s greatest legacies.
I came over from Cap City in 2015 and was proud to get a Virginia Beer Cup Gold Medal in 2016 with the Mad Fox Kolsch. Brewing for Bill was a great opportunity to focus on quality and dialing in technique brewing all of his classics. From Milds to lagers, a wide range of Stouts, Wee Heavy, and of course English and American Barley Wine.
I am also proud of the work we did together approaching newer twists on brewing like modern session beers, Hazy and fruited IPA, kettle sours of the straight and fruited variety and even a dessert stout in the Razor Burn Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout we brewed with the Neighborhood Barbershop gang. I learned a lot about the process, and one of the biggest take-aways for me was getting familiar with working with barrel-aging beers. I feel really good about bringing these skills I sharpened at Mad Fox with me to Cedar Run Brewery on Evergreen Acres Farm.
One thing I really loved hearing from Bill was stories about the history of beer in the DMV from the mid-’90s and onward. He’s like a walking encyclopedia of who what and where. In this age of hype, no one gives a shit about the history which I find annoying.
I’ve only been in the industry since 2010 but it’s always been important to me to give credit and respect to the Old Heads that broke this ground and paved the way for what we have today. He and Bob Tupper are great guys to talk to about the scene. I am very proud of being a part of the Barley Wine Festival and all the Tupper Tastings we had at the pub in Falls Church. So many great memories and stories from those nights.
Greg Engert, Beer Director & Partner, Neighborhood Restaurant Group
I think I met Bill back at the Brickskeller. When Bill would come out and sit at the bar and chat with me, I knew Rustico had made it when the local brewers of note were coming to the bar. It makes you feel like you’re a part of the community. Later on, we would do multiple collaborations with Bluejacket and Mad Fox Brewing Company. We did a Doppelbock and a Weizenbock together.
I’ve always loved classic beer styles. When I first got started at the Brickeskeller, then Rustico and Churchkey and later up to all of our spots today, we’ve always maintained a passion for classic beers so when we did our collabs with Mad Fox we worked with classic beers.
Later on, we would do multiple collaborations with Bluejacket and Mad Fox Brewing Company. We did a Doppelbock and a Weizenbock together. I’ve always loved classic beer styles. When I first got started at the Brickeskeller, then Rustico and Churchkey and later up to all of our spots today, we’ve always maintained a passion for classic beers so when we did our collabs with Mad Fox we worked with classic beers.
Bill was very helpful when we were opening Bluejacket. He gave us some great pointers on the brewing system and setting up so we’re indebted to him for that of course. I always knew I could go to him for classic styles of beer brewed stateside. It was great that Bill always continued to brew the classics and it inspired us at Bluejacket to make sure we kept a good portion of the menu classic.
Whenever I’d go to Mad Fox I didn’t even really look at the menu I just got whatever was on cask. That’s probably the thing I’ll miss the most about Mad Fox is the cask beer was always delicious and in such great shape. The most recent one I was out for was an event we poured some Bluejacket beer at but they had this delicious English Golden Ale on cask and it was just phenomenal and that’s the thing I’m probably going to miss most is having great real ale available in the area.
The other is Kellerbier Kolsch and we had started pouring more and more of that at our restaurants, at Churchkey and Rustico. It’s going to be tough to find a suitable replacement.
I certainly hope that Bill comes out on the other side of this producing beer someplace. Selfishly I just don’t want to lose those great styles of beer that just aren’t as popular. But also I think a lot of brewers today just don’t know how to brew real ales or some of these classic styles they’re just not as interested in. It’s really a loss to have somebody making beers like that so well locally.
Kevin Blodger, Founder & Director of Brewing Operations, Union Craft Brewing
When I first started brewing in the early 2000s the two guys I wanted to be like were Geoff Lively and Bill Madden. Bill made such great beer and was such a humble welcoming person.
When I was hired at Cap City (after Bill had left) I was so excited to work at the brewery Bill Madden built. It blows my mind a place with great beer and food in an accessible location couldn’t get the support they needed from the local community and the wider DMV. I’ll miss doing Bob Tupper’s events there, the Barleywine festival, and seeing an idol of mine every time I went there. Bill and his wife are such great people and I wish them future success in whatever their next step is.
Brandon Skall, CEO & Co-Founder, DC Brau Brewing LLC
Bill has always been a warm and welcoming patriarch in the old and new brew revolution of DC. Not only did he blaze the path for the breweries that are here now but he personally trained so many of the brewers who now lead the way.
I have many fond memories of Bill but one, in particular, was when he invited all the new DMV Breweries to Mad Fox to compete in his first kick the keg event in the Falls Church location. It was such a great welcome for all of us and the spirit of camaraderie shined over the spirit of competition. Mad Fox Brewing Company won the contest fair and square but later we snuck in and stole the Dominion Cup trophy (as was the tradition) Bill laughed it off and was proud to see the custom continue.
That is the spirit that Bill brings. I will dearly miss Mad Fox, the beers that were brewed there and the people who were nurtured there. The Mad Fox legacy is truly one to be proud of.
Julie Verratti, Chief Brand Officer/Founder Denizens Brewing Co.
I can’t say enough positive things about Bill Madden and the entire Mad Fox Brewing Company. He has been a mentor, an advocate, and a friend. My heart is broken that they are closing, and Bill’s Orange Whip IPA continues to be one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had. It is an absolute shame that Mad Fox is closing under these circumstances, and I hope that folks spend an inappropriate amount of money at their Brewpub before July 21st – I know I will.
Sten Sellier, Beltway Brewing Company
I’d just like to say that Bill has been instrumental in mentoring me, personally, as well as many other brewers and entrepreneurs in our area. He is truly a brewMASTER and to not be able to enjoy his creations after July is a great loss to all of us. I hope to see his beers live on in some way in the not-too-distant future and I also hope to continue to see Bill around the craft brewing community – we could all learn something from Bill Madden!
Bill Butcher, Port City Brewing Company
Mad Fox and Bill Madden have been a groundbreaking, innovative pillar of the local beer community. Bill has always been a vocal and active supporter of our Metro DC brewing scene, and he always offered enthusiastic support as we worked to get our brewery open in 2011. It is sad to see Mad Fox Brewing Company close, and I know that Bill and Beth Madden will continue to be key figures in the local beer community. We will appreciate all the memories from Mad Fox and look forward to seeing what is next for the Maddens.
Jeff Hancock, President/Head Brewer, DC Brau Brewing, LLC
I remember meeting Bill for the first time. It was at my first strong ale tasting at RFD. I had just started at Franklins and didn’t know that much about beer. Except that I was really good at drinking it. Our interaction was brief, but I was compelled to try his beers at Cap City. I was an instant fan and from then on have picked his brain about all things beer, particularly Kölsch.
Bill is a constant source of inspiration and a testament to sticking to your guns and brewing beer to be proud of. I always appreciate his commitment to brewing true-to-style beers. He’s a local pioneer and was a brewer before it was “cool”.
Drew McCormick & Erin Gilbert, Executive Beverage Director & Assistant Beverage Director, Pizzeria Paradiso/Birreria Paradiso
Bill Madden always set the standard for Belgian style beers and we are truly saddened to hear of Mad Fox’s closing. It was our pleasure to work with Mad Fox over the years and pour their delicious liquid across all Pizzeria Paradiso locations. Maybe now Bill will have more time to drink beers with us!
Everyone here at DC Beer salutes Bill and we wish him the very best as he embarks on his next adventure. We’ll keep you posted.