By Ariel Yong
“The first time I had my first true craft beer [a Sam Adams lager] was while I was a student at George Mason and I always thought it would be cool if one of the over-21 students gets introduced to really good beer by trying one of our brews,” says Antonio Maradiaga, which is why Maradiaga is scouting for space for his upcoming brewery, Twinpanzee Brewing Company, near his alma matter.
Born and raised in Fairfax County, the GMU alum studied English and psychology and wanted to be an elementary school teacher. But after building his computer skills during graduate school, Maradiaga switched to a career as an IT developer. He started home brewing in 2008 and relied on feedback from his family and friends while coming up with recipes. After sitting around one evening and drinking one of his home brews with his wife, the couple entertained the idea of doing it full time.
“It’s just one of those dreams I’ve always had,” Maradiaga says. “When you’re a home brewer, you always dream of starting your own brewery. The more you learn about home brewing and brewing itself, you read stories where a lot of the major breweries were started by people that brewed at home.”
The 39-year-old hopes to open Twinpanzee—the name comes from when one of his twin sons combined the words “twin” and “chimpanzee”—by the end of this year but said it will depend on the success of his Kickstarter campaign.
For support and guidance, Maradiaga has tapped into the surrounding brewing community of both local breweries and home brewers, especially relying on advice from Matt and Kerri Rose, co-owners and founders of Forge Brew Works in Lorton, who went through a similar process last year with their Kickstarter campaign and CEO and executive brewer Bill Madden and head brewer Charlie Buettner of Mad Fox Brewing Company. “I’ve been bugging them nonstop because they’re just down the road from my house,” Maradiaga says. “They’re two of the nicest guys. I could sit with them for hours and thankfully, they’ve never kicked me out and said, ‘Okay, go away. That’s enough questions.’ They’re always very patient with me.”
Twinpanzee will be debuting its first round of brews at a free beer tasting event on July 12 at PING in Arlington from noon to 2 p.m. where guests can sample a bourbon vanilla porter, grapefruit hefeweizen and citra IPA.
“We don’t take ourselves seriously at all except when it comes to making our beer,” Maradiaga says. “We really are all about producing high quality beer, but as far as being beer snobs or anything like that, we’re very laid back and we want to create the same environment at our brewery.”