Weeks after closure, Isley Brewing sells rights to its most popular beer

callao brewing taproom Cropped

Callao Brewing Co.’s taproom sits along U.S. Route 360, about an hour east of Richmond. (Courtesy Callao Brewing Co.)

A recently closed Richmond brewery has chosen a small beermaker from the Northern Neck to help carry on part of its legacy. 

Isley Brewing Co., which ceased operations at its Scott’s Addition facility last month, sold the recipe and rights to its popular Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Porter to Callao Brewing Co. 

The deal closed over the weekend. Terms were not disclosed.

Located about 65 miles east of Richmond, Callao Brewing has been open since 2020, serving locals in its namesake town as well as the many vacationers headed to the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. 

Co-owners James Adams and Roger Hale said the seeds of the deal for Choosy Mother go back to around 2021 when Isley Brewing owner Mike Isley stopped into their brewery. After ordering a few pints, Isley told them he was a fan of their beer, and the three became friends. 

callao1

Roger Hale and James Adams (Photos courtesy Callao Brewing Co.)

“He became a frequent customer,” Adams said. “He was coming by, I would say at least once or twice a month from Richmond.”

Isley, who didn’t respond to multiple to calls seeking comment for this story, told Adams and Hale earlier this year that he was thinking of closing his brewery, and they eventually got to talking about Choosy Mother. 

“He essentially gave us first refusal for the recipe and rights to Choosy Mother,” Adams said. “He approached us with terms for the acquisition of the recipe and rights, and it all worked out. Now Choosy Mother is ours.”

Adams said there’s some paperwork with the state that needs to be filed before they can start brewing Choosy Mother, but they’re hopeful they’ll have it available on tap and in cans at Callao Brewing Co. before the end of the year. 

Choosy Mother’s name and recipe will go unchanged, and the beer’s pink label will be changed only to include Callao’s name. 

The brewery’s also lining up to make the porter available elsewhere in the state, including Richmond. 

“We are planning on getting (Choosy Mother) back out to the public. There’s a lot of interest in it, so hopefully we can have it back out and it won’t be too long.”

choosy mother isley Cropped

Choosy Mother debuted in 2014 and had been among Isley’s most-acclaimed brews. (BizSense file)

Adams said the deal with Isley included a beer trailer and canning line. He said Callao is in the process of both signing with a distributor and expanding its current 1-barrel brewing rig. 

Adams said even though he and Hale opened Callao in June 2020, the pandemic had a way of helping the business take off. “A lot of vacation homes became permanent residences,” he said, noting that they get loads of customers from Richmond heading to river houses. 

It remains unclear whether Isley Brewing Co.’s other recipes, equipment and business assets have sold or are up for sale. 

Adams estimates that Callao might’ve beaten out others in the beer industry for the rights to Choosy Mother, but they had a head start having grown close to Isley. 

“It’s more than likely that if (Isley) would have never come out, we would never have had this opportunity,” Adams said. 

“It was just fate,” Hale added. 

callao brewing taproom Cropped

Callao Brewing Co.’s taproom sits along U.S. Route 360, about an hour east of Richmond. (Courtesy Callao Brewing Co.)

A recently closed Richmond brewery has chosen a small beermaker from the Northern Neck to help carry on part of its legacy. 

Isley Brewing Co., which ceased operations at its Scott’s Addition facility last month, sold the recipe and rights to its popular Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Porter to Callao Brewing Co. 

The deal closed over the weekend. Terms were not disclosed.

Located about 65 miles east of Richmond, Callao Brewing has been open since 2020, serving locals in its namesake town as well as the many vacationers headed to the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. 

Co-owners James Adams and Roger Hale said the seeds of the deal for Choosy Mother go back to around 2021 when Isley Brewing owner Mike Isley stopped into their brewery. After ordering a few pints, Isley told them he was a fan of their beer, and the three became friends. 

callao1

Roger Hale and James Adams (Photos courtesy Callao Brewing Co.)

“He became a frequent customer,” Adams said. “He was coming by, I would say at least once or twice a month from Richmond.”

Isley, who didn’t respond to multiple to calls seeking comment for this story, told Adams and Hale earlier this year that he was thinking of closing his brewery, and they eventually got to talking about Choosy Mother. 

“He essentially gave us first refusal for the recipe and rights to Choosy Mother,” Adams said. “He approached us with terms for the acquisition of the recipe and rights, and it all worked out. Now Choosy Mother is ours.”

Adams said there’s some paperwork with the state that needs to be filed before they can start brewing Choosy Mother, but they’re hopeful they’ll have it available on tap and in cans at Callao Brewing Co. before the end of the year. 

Choosy Mother’s name and recipe will go unchanged, and the beer’s pink label will be changed only to include Callao’s name. 

The brewery’s also lining up to make the porter available elsewhere in the state, including Richmond. 

“We are planning on getting (Choosy Mother) back out to the public. There’s a lot of interest in it, so hopefully we can have it back out and it won’t be too long.”

choosy mother isley Cropped

Choosy Mother debuted in 2014 and had been among Isley’s most-acclaimed brews. (BizSense file)

Adams said the deal with Isley included a beer trailer and canning line. He said Callao is in the process of both signing with a distributor and expanding its current 1-barrel brewing rig. 

Adams said even though he and Hale opened Callao in June 2020, the pandemic had a way of helping the business take off. “A lot of vacation homes became permanent residences,” he said, noting that they get loads of customers from Richmond heading to river houses. 

It remains unclear whether Isley Brewing Co.’s other recipes, equipment and business assets have sold or are up for sale. 

Adams estimates that Callao might’ve beaten out others in the beer industry for the rights to Choosy Mother, but they had a head start having grown close to Isley. 

“It’s more than likely that if (Isley) would have never come out, we would never have had this opportunity,” Adams said. 

“It was just fate,” Hale added. 

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Betsy Gardner
Betsy Gardner
7 months ago

Kudos to Callao brewery on the purchase. The northernest of the Necks is well worth the visit for the river scenery, history and of course, the beer!

Doug Rogers
Doug Rogers
7 months ago

Great to see the recipe live on! I could see their Plain Jane or Blueberry Plain Jane making a return somewhere nearby as well.

Not sure how someone like Midnight Brewery, Kindred Spirit or Center of the Universe would feel about taking on someone else’s recipe that has a good following but would love to see those two beers find a home. Can someone say collaboration with Callao for a PB and J???