National Beer Day is Friday, April 7 and since Loudoun is home to more than 35 breweries linked by the popular LoCo Ale Trail, it’s the perfect excuse to pay a visit. In anticipation of the day in question, we look at all the ways you can celebrate. From cycling between breweries on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, to a brewery crawl in Leesburg, sampling some of the more inventive Loudoun ales and getting your groove on with live music, it’s time to drink up. Beer we go!


Beer and Bikes

Loudoun is becoming a hot cycling destination, but did you know you can do an organized Beer and Bike tour in the county? Leesburg’s Pedego Electric Bikes offers a self-guided Electric Bike Ale Trail Brewery Tour for groups of up to 20 that includes stops at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn and Crooked Run Fermentation in Leesburg, all close to the W&OD Trail. Of course, you don’t need a group or an e-bike to visit the breweries on two wheels. Just grab a copy of the LoCo Ale Trail Map and hit the ones close to the trail on your own.


The Leesburg Brewery Crawl

It’s fun to cycle or drive to Loudoun’s breweries, but in downtown Leesburg you can walk to five of them within a few hundred yards of each other. Start your brewery crawl at Black Walnut on King Street, named for the walnut trees on site, before heading over to Crooked Run Fermentation at Market Station for an IPA, barrel- aged stout or newly released Cherish sour. Next up is Wild Hare Cider in the rustic 1840s log cabin next door. True, it’s a cidery not a brewery, but a glass of the flagship Heritage Dry “Hatch” cider really cleanses the palate. Then it’s on to the nearby Loudoun Street taproom of Dynasty Brewing Company. Try the crisp Sunrider Imperial Pilsner or a smooth and malty 838 Irish Stout. A short walk up the street the wildly popular Loudoun Brewing Company does a superb fruit forward saison named Polished Foxx. Finally, its back to King Street and the lively German-style beerhall Black Hoof Brewing. Come on a Friday or weekend afternoon and it’s the closest atmosphere you’ll find to the Munich Oktoberfest this side of the Atlantic. Breweries are not the only place to find Loudoun beer on your crawl. Delirium Café up the street has Ocelot Brewing Company’s superb Talking Backwards Triple IPA on tap. Enjoy it in the café’s lively back yard.


Belly Love’s Digital Beer

Loudoun is renowned for its hi-tech data centers but Tolga Baki, owner of Belly Love Brewing Co. in Purcellville, has taken the tech revolution to a whole new level. On April 14 he will release Solar Flare, a New England IPA created and named by Artificial Intelligence after Baki provided the parameters of the beer to ChatGPT. The AI program came up with a completely new recipe: a complex, hop-rich brew made with a blend of 2-row malt, flaked oats, white wheat and honey malt. The finished product has a light, hazy appearance, notes of passionfruit, grapefruit and pineapple and a smooth mouthfeel. The AI even came up with the name. For those interested, it will be on tap at both Belly Love and sister property Hillsborough Winery Brewery & Vineyard owned by Tolga’s brother. 


Beers and Bands

Beer and music go together like cheese and wine, eggs and bacon. Harvest Gap Brewery in Hillsboro is a great brewery for live country and rock n roll in western Loudoun. From 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. Fridays through Sundays you can catch foot stompers such as the Todd Brooks Duo, Spencer Hatcher and the Rowdy Ace band. Down in Middleburg, Lost Barrel Brewing hosts superb acoustic acts and DJs each weekend. Upcoming performers include James Stevens, Summer & Eric Duo and Dominic Cicala & Thensome. Over in Lucketts meanwhile, sprawling Vanish Farmwoods Brewery set in 50 acres of fields and forest off Route 15, has live music most weekends with frequent appearances by the likes of Train Wreck Endings, Whiskey Neat and blues rocker Patty Reese.


Did you know…

The Craft of Brewing in Ashburn not only makes a range of superb craft beers – more than 19 brews on tap last we looked – but also hosts sessions for amateur brewers who want to learn the ropes or who need more space than the basement at home allows. Part of the “Brew Your Own Beer” or “Brew on Premises” program, guests can book 20-liter ($119) or 50-liter ($220) brew stations, make use of premium ingredients, experiment with recipes and in the end take home several cases, growlers or even a keg or two of the finished products. As well as great networking for beer heads, the brewery sells and rents supplies such as malt, grains, beer kits and cleaning equipment. Cheers!


Loudoun has its own beer scientist? Jasper Akerboom was a microbiologist at the world-renowned Janelia Research Campus when he quit to focus on his real love: beer. As the former Brewing Scientist at Ashburn’s Lost Rhino Brewing Co., he helped make the famous Bone Dusters amber ale – using yeast from protocetid whale fossils. Today he runs Jasper Yeast consultancy in Sterling with brewer Travis Tedrow, advising local breweries on fermentation. They share a building – and sometimes fridge space – with Sterling’s much-loved Ocelot Brewing Company.


House 6 Brewing Co. is the dream child of the local brewer and firefighter Rolando Rivera, long-time volunteer at Station 6 and Station 22 in Ashburn. A popular community hangout that hosts frequent events for local first responders, the beers run the gamut from a light and crisp El Bombero Kolsch to the heavier fruit-forward Cherry Rivera Stout named for its owner. Try the perfectly balanced Smoke Eater Smoked Porter – smoke eater being the slang term for a firefighter.