The intellectually diminished yet larger-than-life football jock “Ogre” once screamed for their dorky demise in 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, but as we all know, in the movie and in real life, nerds persevere thanks to a healthy dose of intelligence and creativity. Fortunately for us, some local beer nerds started a killer brewery earlier this year in Woodbridge, Va. Pardon the pun, but I am definitely “drawn” to the uber cool comic book, gaming and all-around geek epicenter that is Heroic Aleworks.
Owners Tim and Kate Hoke knew they had to do something unique to position their brewery to compete in the craft beer market in Northern Virginia. Fortunately, they had to look no further than their obsession with comic books, cult movies, and all things cosplay and weird. I visited Heroic and spoke to bartender Hibah Mailk to get the skinny on their new brewery adorned with enough comic and movie gear to be a small museum of sorts.
Every beer they create is branded and named with its own illustrated superhero or villain; the villains are “seasonal releases that will live or die” depending on the popularity of the beer.
“All of the characters are part of the brewery’s Superhuman Syndicate,” Mailk says. “There are 14 cards/characters you can currently collect, and growing. We’re even making comic books for all of them, but only the Solasta [kölsch-style] comic is currently online.”
Has it made them more popular? Definitely. My personal experience with their superhero/beer-themed playing cards during my tasting was reminiscent of when I was 10 years old and collecting Garbage Pail Kids, except Heroic offers great beer made by Tim and head brewer Leon Harris.
“People love the cards and collect them like baseball cards when you were a kid,” Mailk says. “Kate and Tim are big comic book fans and homebrewers, and they really just combined their two loves. It just worked.”
Heroic’s team knows that timing is everything, and plans on participating in two upcoming comic cons in the DC area.
“The huge cosplay events NOVACON [July 28-30 in Tysons Corner] and Awesome Con [June 16-18 at the Washington Convention Center] are coming up this summer, and we’re working on a having a presence there or being involved with them,” he says.
Heck yes! Mailk says most regulars like the Death Blossom Red Ale, but I’m a fan of the darker stuff at Heroic. Give a hero’s welcome to these tasty brews when you visit.
The Dark Enemy Russian Imperial Stout, 8.5 percent: This strong stout has an excellent essence of dark fruit, but not too overpowering. It’s nice and boozy, so find a designated driver after a date with this big guy. Rating: Every girl’s crazy about a tall, dark Russian.
Max Nix Porter, 5.5 percent: I’m not just a fan because I’m named Nick and this superhero card is the most badass, in my opinion. This dark-as-night porter is super drinkable with light chocolate notes. This is what I drink when I go here. Rating: A porter you can drink with your favorite Nick!
Doctor Enigma American IPA, 6.8 percent: A bitter bomb of an IPA at first taste, this mellows as it breathes so the balanced citra hops take over as you drink it. Rating: Do yourself a favor and let this one sit until the hop doctor is in!
Heroic Aleworks: 14910 Persistence Dr. Woodbridge, VA; 571-398-6113; www.heroicaleworks.com