Lange spends much of her day hopping on and off fermentation tanks and driving forklifts as head brewer at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, Virginia. “Brewing is a sweaty endeavor, but it’s worth it because you’ve made beer at the end,” she says. After earning a biology degree at Dartmouth and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Emory, followed by a few years as a postdoc, Lange made the move to a different kind of lab, working as a beer scientist at two Washington, D.C., area breweries before joining Old Ox. “Brewing is great because it is one of the few scientific areas where you’re encouraged to drink your experiments,” she says.
At Old Ox, Lange leads a four-person team responsible for all aspects of production, from recipe development and yeast management to conditioning and kegging. She also oversees the brewing, fermentation and packaging schedules and makes sure the brewery keeps its flagship beers—including Black Ox rye porter and Hoppy Place IPA, which recently earned gold and silver medals at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup—on local store shelves and novel beers available in the tasting room.
But Lange says good beer is about more than flavor: “No matter what styles they brew, the breweries that make clean, consistent beer will rise to the top.” Her future plans include development of the brewery’s first quality-control lab. With more than 5,000 breweries in the country—an almost 17-percent increase from 2015, she says—Lange’s scientific approach will ensure Old Ox stays on top of the booming industry.
Allison’s Top 4 Beers
Tasting notes on what’s brewing
Black Ox Porter: “hints of coffee and chocolate”
Hoppy Place IPA: “pine and citrus notes ride the wave of hops”
X-Ray Specs: “crimson concoction of hearty red malts, hops and a dash of rye”
Saison d’Ox: “French farmhouse ale is a favorite of wine drinkers”