One year later, Russel Tinsley, the owner of the Oozlefinch Craft Brewery, is still proud of the brewery he took five years to create.
The former police officer and five-year homebrewer had a dream to open Oozlefinch on Fort Monroe since 2012, after he left the force to follow his passion - beer.
The 4,700-square-foot building opened Sept. 3, 2016, and Tinsley has used the past 12 months to find direction, perfect his staff and expand his business.
"The first six to eight months were just a learning curve to figure ourselves out, bring community," Tinsley said.
In the last four months, Tinsley has brought on a new brewmaster and added a general manager. He said he made the changes to stay true to his original mission for the brewery and now feels Oozlefinch is better than ever.
The brewery has found its own way to stand out among the Peninsula's growing craft beer scene by re-imagining classic beer styles with new ingredients and techniques. It has mostly become known for its barrel sours and hazy IPAs. Oozlefinch even serves a pink beer at its location on historic Fort Monroe that overlooks Mill Creek.
"It feels amazing that everyone is on the same page and 100 percent on board with the direction we are going," Tinsley said. "Instead of doing the same old everyday stuff, we are making our brewery unique."
In an August 2016 Daily Press article, Tinsley said he "would like to eventually expand" into a larger space. One year later, the brewery is doing that, planning to begin a barrel sour program in the adjacent building. Tinsley said the brewery bought 30 barrels for the program and hired a chemist to help develop recipes from Fort Monroe yeast strains.
"It's going to bring more people to the brewery because its going to produce commodity beers," Tinsley said.
Oozlefinch is celebrating one year during its Oozle-versary Celebration 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The celebration will include beer releases, food trucks and musical acts.
The winner of the anniversary celebration T-shirt contest winner also will be celebrated. The contest ran July 3 to Aug. 3 and entries were judged on originality, creativity and overall depiction of Oozlefinch's brand.
The T-shirt will feature the winning design by Brandon McPherson, a caricature artist from Poquoson who lives in Richmond. His design incorporates the oozlefinch bird, beer, Fort Monroe, a plane and a ship.
McPherson found out about the contest from his fiance's sister who lives in Hampton. Despite visiting the fort many times, his first visit to Oozlefinch was a few weeks ago. He called it "a unique place for a brewery."
"I researched a little bit about Oozlefinch and the history of Fort Monroe," McPherson said. "I learned a lot of cool stuff. I think it's cool the brewery is tapping into the history of the area."
He won $150, a free T-shirt and a ticket as a VIP guest to the anniversary celebration. He will be there from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday drawing caricatures.
The Oozlefinch Craft Brewery is located at 81 Patch Road on Fort Monroe. For more information, visit oozlefinchbeers.com or call 757-224-7042.
Bier Festival at Busch Gardens begins
The Busch Gardens Bier Festival begins Friday. Park visitors can enjoy the festival for three weekends throughout September (Sept. 1-4, 9-10, 16-17) taste and learn about beers from around the world and local breweries including Alewerks, Bull Island, Oozlefinch, St. George, Tradition and Virginia Beer Company. The park is located at 1 Busch Gardens Blvd. near Williamsburg. For more information and park operating times, visit buschgardens.com/bierfest or call 757-229-4386
Toasted Marshmallow Day
Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton is hosting an event to celebrate National Toasted Marshmallow Day 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday. Join a park ranger and roast marshmallows at various dipping stations that feature chocolate sauce, crushed graham cracker, sprinkles, peanuts and more. Registration, which is required, is $3 per person and children 5 and younger are free. Call the Nature Center at 757-825-4657 to register.
Brunch And Jazz at Smithfield Inn
Enjoy live smooth jazz by Virginia All State Band and Orchestra member Zach Thompson, while eating brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Smithfield Inn is located at 12 Main St. in Smithfield. For more information, call 757-357-1752.
Open house at Blue Sky Distillery
Isle of Wight Industrial Park distillery store, Blue Sky Distillery, is hosting an open house 1-4 p.m. Monday where customers can taste and buy its vodka. For more information, visit blueskydistillery.com or call 757-746-8342.
Peninsula brewery round up
Tradition Brewing Company released its last beer of the summer series, Moondoggie Passion Fruit Wheat Ale, on Aug. 26. The beer is infused with passion fruit and has a mild fruit finish. The brewery is located at 700 Thimble Shoals Blvd. in Newport News. Info: 757-592-9393.
Virginia Beer Company released a small batch of Tropical Hibiscus, a saison tournante, by popular demand. Tropical Hibiscus is a summertime saison with notes of tropical fruit. Located at 401 Second St. in Williamsburg. Info: 757-378-2903.
Oozlefinch Craft Brewery released a collaboration with Alesatian Brewing Company called Range Finder, a double white IPA, Aug. 25. The beer is a firmly bitter, citrusy and spicy hybrid. Located at 81 Patch Road on Fort Monroe. Info: 757-224-7042.
Alewerks released Unrequited, a new red double IPA. Located at 189 B Ewell Road in the Williamsburg area. Info: 757-220-3670.
Joseph can be reached by phone at 757-374-3134.