There’s nothing like the threat of McMansions moving in to kick-start a new business. That’s why Old House Vineyards bought the 80 acres next to its property from developers. At first, says Ryan Kearney, it was to “protect the vineyard” and not having anything “taking away from the ambiance.”
But the ambitious family behind the 20-year Old House brand couldn’t let it sit there, with a foundation of a former dairy facility that burned down in the 1950s asking to be rebuilt.
The Kearneys, parents Patrick and Allyson, and son Ryan, already ran a vineyard with a tasting room, including 30 acres of vines, and a distillery, on their 75 acres. It only made sense to complete the trifecta and open a brewery on their newly acquired real estate. Old House is now the first in the state to host a craft brewery, winery and distillery on the same land.
And beer’s in the family. Ryan is the third generation helping Virginians have a good time. His father, uncle and grandfather opened The Old Brogue, an Irish pub, in Great Falls more than three decades ago. His uncle still runs the place.
The 14,000-square-feet brewery, which threw its grand opening party on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, features a tasting room, The Taproom, with a bar, eight taps, tables and a stage for live music. Food trucks visit on the weekend. Continuing the family tradition, there’s also Kearney’s Pub, styled after drinking holes from Ireland circa 1800s with dark wood, ornate features, a marble bar, a fireplace made with millions-years-old rock from nearby Luck Stone Quarry—and stained glass bought from a TGI Friday’s auction. Servers wear kilts.
The beer (see sidebar for full list) features classic styles, and a nod to the Irish theme with a dry Irish Stout, and of course, two IPAs (New England-style and a lighter, less hoppy version). Because the brewery shares land with two other drinking establishments, Kearney says most beers lie in the low-alcohol-by-volume session category. The beers stay local with barley grown on the land (it’s malted by Copper Fox Distillery), and this summer, they’ll start planting hops.
With a trio of businesses, the potential for collaborations is ripe, both for marketing purposes—George Mason grad students are using Old House as their capstone project to find pathways for synergy—and drinking purposes. “It’s all about the barrels,” says Kearney: stouts aging in bourbon barrels, white wine aging in agave barrels, brandy aging in corn whiskey barrels.
But that’s not it. They want to ramp up tours, start an educational component, both for enthusiasts and professionals, and, have some fun, too. Kearney says his dad’s ultimate vision is even bigger than being the first winery-distillery-brewery in the state. He wants to add hot air balloon rides. He wants to host a blowout music-food-drink festival. He wants the party to come to Culpeper, and he has the land for it. // 18351 Corkys Lane, Culpeper
Grapes This Way, Grains That Way
With strict laws governing alcohol, Old House guests can only drink certain beverages in specific areas. Here are the logistics for sipping the day away.
Old House Vineyards
The winery’s tasting room is in a restored 1890s farmhouse with a picturesque back patio. Tastings are $8 for seven wines, plus a souvenir glass. Guests can bring pints or crowlers (freshly poured beer in an oversized can, like a canned growler) from the brewery to drink at the winery. This summer they’ll add two taps of Old House beer inside of the winery. // Open Wednesday through Monday, closed Tuesday
Chambourcin Dessert Wine, the debut of the 10-year aged, port-style wine
2017 Tanat, the first straight varietal of the estate-grown red gape
2019 Vidal Blanc, for the 20th anniversary, it will be sold at original prices—$9.99 (now $18.95)—over Easter weekend
Old House Craft Distillery
Opened in 2015, the distillery resembles a World War II museum—owner Patrick Kearney builds exhibits for a living—featuring vintage uniform accessories, framed posters and other paraphernalia. A tasting is $10 for four ½-ounce samples (straight or mixed drinks) and a shot glass. Guests can only drink spirits, including cocktails made with house spirits, at the distillery. This spring brings a new deck with views of the vines. // Open Friday through Sunday
Black X Coffee Rum, mixing the sweetness of a liqueur with the proof of spirits
Limoncello, the classic digestivo, but made with rum
Culpeper Gin, a botanical, American-dry style
Old House Brewing
With a fitting debut on St. Patrick’s Day, the brewery is the newest drink option at Old House. The Taproom is a tasting room with eight taps and a stage for live music. Kearney’s Pub is a separate Irish bar where servers wear kilts. A flight is $10 for four, 5 ½-ounce pours; there’s also take-home crowlers. Wine is sold by the bottle and glass here. // The Taproom: Open Friday through Sunday; Kearney’s Pub: Open Saturday and Sunday
The debut lineup features classic styles—saison, blonde ale, pilsner, dry Irish stout, brown ale, extra special bitter (ESB), IPA, New England-style IPA—and plans include experiments with barrel-aging brews.