By Laura Hayes
Don’t count out suds on your next visit to Loudoun County’s wine country because the area is seeing a boom in craft breweries. Twelve are currently open for business, with two more, Barnhouse Brewery and B Chord Brewing Company, set to open this fall. In response, the region’s tourism bureau, Visit Loudoun, launched the LoCo Ale Trail in late summer to help locals and visitors navigate the scene.
There are seven suggested itineraries, with more on the way, including the “Brews by Bike Trail,” which encourages beer and cycling lovers to bike the Washington & Old Dominion trail while making pit stops at seven breweries starting with Beltway Brewing Company and ending with Adroit Theory Brewing. Another itinerary, “Pints with Pups” was curated for beer lovers eager to bring along their four-legged friends.
The most notable itinerary, however, is the five-stop “Farm Breweries Trail” because it reflects a recent change in legislation allowing breweries to operate on farms. Previously, they were only permitted to set up shop in industrial areas or town centers.
Dirt Farm Brewing in Bluemont, for example, has a newly established 3-acre hop yard, 10 acres of growing grains, plus crops like peaches and pumpkins for incorporating into seasonal beers. “What’s great about farm breweries is that when you drive past the hop fields, you get the same feeling as driving past vines on the way to vineyards,” says Jackie Saunders, Visit Loudoun’s vice president of marketing. “Also, a lot of people don’t know what beer is made of, so actually seeing the hop vines in person is a really unique experience.” The ability to visit breweries in both urban and rural environments on the LoCo Ale Trail adds texture to the experience.
LoCo Ale Trail information is available online, and pocket guides are available for pickup at participating breweries:
Quattro Goomba’s Brewery
Corcoran Brewing Company
Belly Love Brewing Company
Mad Horse Brewpub
Old Ox Brewery
Beltway Brewing Company
Lost Rhino Brewing Company
Old 690 Brewing Company
Dirt Farm Brewing
Adroit Theory Brewing
Crooked Run Brewing
Ocelot Brewing Company
Sweetwater Tavern and Lost Rhino Retreat are two other beer-centric spinoffs in the county.
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Laura Hayes hails from Philly (but don’t hold it against her). She’s been covering the local dining scene for three years, and her work has been published in the Washington Post, Food Network, Washington City Paper, Arlington Magazine and more. Having lived in Japan for two years, she finds herself in a constant state of craving sushi. Laura always orders her favorite savory dish again for dessert and keeps her gut in check through lots of CrossFit classes.