By: Steve Cook
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. For Doug John, it was more a matter of if by the 16th time you don’t succeed, try again. “The 17th time was the charm,” Doug says. He’s referring to the experimentation that eventually led to the creation of his family’s version of a very recent entry in the alcoholic beverage industry, hard seltzer.
Doug, who along with his wife, Lee, and their son, Austin, owns Apocalypse Ale Works in Forest, Virginia, did not invent the product, which is quickly catching on with those who want a lighter alcoholic beverage. There were earlier versions of the drink already on the market before the Johns began their experiments. In fact, it was Austin’s girlfriend who turned the family onto the drink after she had sampled Truly, a hard seltzer from Samuel Adams.
Upon tasting the 17th batch in late 2017, Doug and his family knew that they had the taste he was looking for. Apocalypse had their new product, Triad.
The name seems to fit, coming from a brewery famous for such labels as Barrmageddon, Sixth Seal and Hoppocalypse. “There are three facets of Triad,” Doug says, explaining the origin of the name - “Low sugar, low carbs and low gluten.” If you have your finger on the pulse of today’s consumer, you well know that these are three important factors.
However, with 4.9% alcohol, Triad is not your grandfather’s club soda, although many fans of the beverage, Doug says, “do enjoy mixing the drink, which is available in several flavors, with their liquor. A lot of people are using our ginger-flavored (Triad) to make Moscow Mules, and our other flavors (such as Coconut Pineapple H2O and Wild Berry H2O) mix well with gin and vodka.”
While Triad from Apocalypse Ale Works is not the first of its kind in the nation, it is the first hard seltzer commercially brewed in Virginia, and, says Doug, “to my knowledge we’re the only brewery in the nation offering it on draft.”
For the time being, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to enjoy the beverage. Doug says that in addition to restaurants located less than10 miles from the brewery in Lynchburg and carrying the product, many restaurants in Charlottesville and in the Hampton Roads area are beginning to make the beverage available to those who not only prefer it as a cocktail mix, but who are enjoying drinking it straight or on the rocks.
Apocalypse Ale Works has, at present, limited distribution in the Richmond area, “But,” says Doug, “get your favorite bartender to ask for it from Tri-City Distributors.”
Doug, who took an early retirement to devote full-time to his decades-long passion for brewing beer, opened Pints O’ Plenty, a complete craft home brewing and wine gift shop in Forest in 2008. He got into the business of brewing beer commercially in 2011 when he opened Apocalypse Ale Works next door to his retail operation.
“What better life could a man have,” he asks rhetorically, “than to be able to pursue his passion full-time alongside his wife and his son?”