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 just sit there.
The Kearneys, parents Patrick and Allyson, and son Ryan, already ran a vineyard (opened in 1999) with a tasting room, including 30 acres of vines, and a distillery (opened in 2015), on their 75 acres. It only made sense to complete the trifecta and open a brewery on their newly acquired land. Old House is now the first in the state to host a craft brewery, winery and distillery on the same land.
With a fitting debut planned for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Kearney’s Pub is styled after drinking holes from Ireland, circa 1800s, with dark wood, ornate features, a marble bar, a fireplace made with 200-million-year-old rock from nearby Luck Stone Quarry—and stained glass bought from a TGI Friday’s auction. Servers will wear kilts.
The 14,000-square-foot brewery also includes a separate tasting room, The Pavilion, with a bar, eight taps, tables and a stage for live music. Food trucks visit on the weekend.
Beer runs 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.
Old House Brewing’s beer list features a saison, blonde ale, pilsner, dry Irish stout, brown ale, ESB and two IPAs, a New-England style and another lighter, less hoppy version.
Because the brewery shares land with two other drinking establishments, Kearney says most beers lay in the low-alcohol-by-volume session category. Local touches include barley grown on the land (it’s malted by Copper Fox Distillery), hops going on the ground this summer and barrel exchanges between the businesses: stouts aging in bourbon barrels, white wine aging in agave barrels, brandy aging in corn-whiskey barrels.
They want to ramp up tours of all the facilities, 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. // Old House: 18351 Corkys Lane, Culpeper
This post was originally published in our food newsletter. Subscribe here.