New Life Breathed into Historic Building

New Life Breathed into Historic Building

Fairfax City welcomes Commonwealth Brewing Co.

Nicole Toulouse enjoys a slice of pizza.

Nicole Toulouse enjoys a slice of pizza.

For Natalie and Jeramy Biggie, it was love at first sight. He owns Commonwealth Brewing Co., and she owns Liquid Distro, which distributes Commonwealth’s beer in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The brewery they began in Virginia Beach in 2015 was such a huge hit that the couple decided to open a second location. They looked for three years; and when they visited Fairfax City, they knew their search was over. 

“Northern Virginia has so much population density and so many people who love craft beer,” said Jeramy Biggie. “And when we came across Old Town Fairfax and Main Street, we fell in love with the place, the sense of community and the atmosphere already present. We saw such a huge opportunity in this large space on top of a hill on Main Street, we couldn’t believe our luck.”

They spent more than a year renovating their new brewery at 10426 Main St. And the front entrance rolls up like a garage door, opening the spacious interior to the outside seating on the large, covered front patio. But that’s not the only reason Commonwealth Brewery has become so popular here.

“It’s because of the sheer number and scope of our beers,” explained Jeramy Biggie. “We make all our own beers and only sell the beers we make. There are 28 different beers here, at any given time, in every style possible. For example, we serve everything from our Hazy IPAs to fruited sours to obscure Czech lagers.”

In addition, he said, “We also offer a full bar with cocktails, wine and cider, as well as food. We make Neapolitan wood-fired pizza and actually employ the beer fermentation in the dough, sauces and pizza ingredients. And besides our eclectic mix of eight or nine different pizzas that we rotate quarterly, we serve appetizers, sandwiches, wings, wraps and seasoned fries.”

Hours are Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight. And Jeff Hermann with the City’s Economic Development Authority, is already a fan. “I’m familiar with them from Virginia Beach,” he said. “Commonwealth has incredible beer and beverages, plus such a relaxed vibe, it fits well in Fairfax.”

Front row, ribbon-cutting participants are (front left) Fairfax Economic Development Director Chris Bruno, Tara Borwey, Jeff Hermann, Commonwealth Gen. Mgr. Emily Wells, Tess Rollins, Tom Ross, Catherine Read, Jeramy Biggie, Page Johnson, Tom Scibilia, Assistant Gen. Mgr. Cole Seiberlich, and head chef Tony Martinez.

“They make so many different, themed beers, such as Harry Potter, throughout the year, as well as surf-culture beers – especially their foamy hard seltzers,” continued Hermann. “My favorite is called Pink Fluffy Unicorns, which they make for their anniversary. Their pizzas are delicious, too. They put together great flavors that go really well with their beer.”

It’s no wonder then that Commonwealth’s recent ribbon cutting was filled with jubilation. “This building has been empty for such a long time, and we wondered why something wasn’t in this space,” said Mayor Catherine Read. “But of all the things that could have gone here, it’s magnificent that Jeramy and Natalie have brought us a brewery – with a patio.

“Look at that vista of the old courthouse; it belongs on a postcard. This is amazing; I cannot think of a better use for this space than Commonwealth brewery. Everyone in this City was excited, waiting for something to come. Having lived here a long time, we’ve always imagined a downtown with vibrant spaces where people come to spend time and bring their friends. And now we have it, and it’s wonderful.” 

“I’m so appreciative that Jeramy and Natalie chose this space and this city to put this brewery right in the heart of our downtown,” continued Read. “I hope we’ll be celebrating your anniversaries here, for years to come. And I think all of us should meet here as often as possible to sample everything on their brewery menu.”

Growing up in the Virginia Beach area, Old Town Fairfax Business Assn. Executive Director Tess Rollins also knew Commonwealth from there. “I’m excited that they brought it here to make Fairfax and Main Street a thriving place to be,” she said. “I want thriving downtown neighborhoods, and I’m happy to see our vacant places getting filled.”

“Now we’ll have a place to gather, not only for friendship, but for corporate events,” said Rollins. “For our community, this is awesome, and it really helps with walkability here and letting people get to know each other.”

Speaking next was Jeramy Biggie. “This has been a long time coming, and we’re so excited to be here,” he said. “We love this city and Main Street, and this place is so large and has so much to offer the public. We look forward to having everyone come and try everything and have a good time and being the community center here that we already are in Virginia Beach.”

A Fairfax resident for 44 years, City Councilmember Tom Ross said he’s always “yearned for a lively, active downtown. We’re finally getting there; and when I look around and see all the buildings and the color, I see that this is going to be an exciting place.” Unable to resist joking, he added, “Commonwealth will be a great gathering place – there’s a lot on tap here.”

Seriously, though, said Ross, “Communities need these kinds of places for an active life, and that’s what Old Town is becoming. Instead of being a place to drive through, it’s now a place to go to.”

City Treasurer Tom Scibilia said he has a long history with this building. “I had my 6th birthday party in the basement when it was a bowling alley in the early ’60s,” he said. “My dad was an electric contractor, and this was his first commercial job – he wired this building. So it’s special to me – and the view is spectacular. Welcome to the City; I can’t wait to be a regular.”

As Fairfax’s revenue commissioner, Page Johnson said he wants Commonwealth to succeed here because businesses represent 70 percent of the City revenue. “And on behalf of those of us who live in this City, we’re awfully glad to have you here,” he said. “I also have a personal connection to this building, and I’m so glad to see life breathed back into it. 

“It was built in 1955, when my mom was a Fairfax High sophomore and worked at a men’s store which was here. My dad worked downstairs in the bowling alley as a pinsetter, and my parents met there. I got married in 1984, and the year prior, I was introduced to my wife in the Alibi Restaurant downstairs. Welcome; perhaps more than anyone else, I’m pulling for you.”

Jennifer Rose, executive director of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber’s “thrilled to have Commonwealth here” and is looking forward to having it involved with the Chamber and participating in the City’s many events.

Agreeing, Tara Borwey with Fairfax’s Economic Development, said Commonwealth “has not only opened its doors, but has also opened its heart and is already engaging with the community.”