Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the most personable and famous players in the NHL, but he rarely has any outside ventures or endorsement deals, opting to remain private and focus on his family. But on Friday, a project Kuznetsov had a big hand in off the ice will go live.
Herndon, VA’s Juicy Brewing Co. will release a beer entitled Kuzy 777 at noon on Friday. The design of the can features Kuznetsov doing his famous bird celly. The Stanley Cup champion center joined brewers at Juicy Brewing Co. during the offseason for the venture. There are also some fantastic t-shirts and Kuzy koozies available.
The name of the beer plays off the lucky number seven — Kuznetsov is superstitious — and a career point total he hopes to hit and surpass someday in the NHL. Kuznetsov currently has 521 points during his 10 seasons in the NHL.
“Kuzy 777 has more color and flavor than a lager, but is exceptionally drinkable,” Anton Sagan, the owner of Juicy Brewing Co., said. “Amber in appearance with a fuller body from all natural grain brewing and the long lagering required for a beer of this class. The beer has been slightly dry-hopped for better natural perfume and pleasant bitterness. The strata hops give it strawberry and citrus aromas.”
Juicy Brewing Co. will give Capitals fans an opportunity to try the beer first during a watch party at their Herndon tap room on Friday night from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The Capitals play the Winnipeg Jets before breaking for the Christmas holiday. The first 50 fans to arrive can enjoy Kuzy 777 on draft, pizza, and the game projected on the wall. (View more information on Juicy’s website.)
“Evgeny’s been integral in determining the style of beer we make,” Sagan said. “He believed it shouldn’t just be a simple lager. These were actually his words, he wanted a bit of bitterness in it. As a lager, it would be quite an expensive beer. Normally lagers are made to be an easy drinker. Kuzy 777 is made more nuanced, with more character if you like. It was his idea to make it, not an IPA, but a lager, a lager with balls.”
Kuzy 777 would not have happened without a chance meeting with one of the other greatest Russian-born Capitals of all time.
“The story of Kuzy 777 began in frosty Moscow a few years back when I ran into Alex Semin while playing street ice hockey with my son at a communal outdoor rink,” Sagan said. “My neighbor Igor asked me if I knew the big guy on the ice who was a better skater than everyone else. In that moment, I realized it was The Alex Semin! The hockey legend that helped beat Canada in the 2008 World Cup — one of the most spectacular matches in modern hockey — and the guy who had a successful NHL career playing for the Capitals and was still a captain of his KHL team at the time.
“Semin, as it turned out, was my neighbor and after the friendly game of hockey we went to a sauna to warm up,” Sagan continued. “Being the beer guy – I brought some craft beer cans to share after the sweat session. He liked it and confirmed to me that hockey players enjoy good beer, too.”
Fast forward to 2022, Sagan’s family, including his wife and two kids, returned to the United States and took over the Aslin Beer Company brewery in Reston — the same place that created Craig Laughlin’s Locker 18 beer. They began making their own products as Juicy Brewing Co. The outfit debuted as one of the top 50 rated breweries in the world by Untappd and quickly established a big following.
Sagan grew up in New York State and attended university in Australia. He had a previous history with Aslin Beer Co. while abroad in Australia for 15 years. Splitting time between Melbourne and Sydney, Sagan owned a craft beer bar and sold hops through a distributor, Hops Engine, that eventually sold to Aslin.
“Sometime in autumn at my friend’s son’s birthday party, I met Kuzy,” Sagan explained. “The Capitals were a team that both myself and my son followed dearly, partly because of Semin.”
Kuznetsov had already been introduced to Juicy’s beer during the offseason by their common friend Ruben. Kuzy remarked to Sagan that he enjoyed our Summermood Kolsch but didn’t like the Megafresh Fruited Sour as much.
“It’s at this moment that Ruben said you guys should collaborate on a beer together, and make it in line with Kuzy’s taste,” Sagan said. “After exchanging couple ideas we decided on a lager ‘with balls.’ Hoppy Vienna Lager was born. It’s drinkable yet nicely nuanced. I suggested to Kuzy we call it 555 to highlight a nearing point milestone. He looked at me and said, ‘Who are you kidding? We call it 777!’
“Kuzy 777 was born and the rest is history.”
A few days ago during an off day, Sagan had dinner with Kuznetsov and Ruben and brought them a small sample of Kuzy 777 before its public release on Friday.
“Kuzy opened the can and looked me in the eye and joked, ‘What if I don’t like it?'” Sagan said. “That took me back to school days. You know, like the stress you feel before you have an exam. After pausing for five seconds, he tried the beer and started making reassuring sounds that he liked it. Exam passed. Evgeny said he loves Kuzy 777.”
Now it’s your turn to try it.
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