Wall of beer at MacDowell Brew Kitchen

I was just browsing Northern Virginia Magazine’s website and noticed a feature on beer. They have lists for the best bars for a beer, local brew pubs, and best breweries, and again and again, Loudoun was featured prominently on these lists. A robust wine country should feature a well rounded offering of culinary delights and as Loudoun’s wine country continues to grow, it’s no surprise that more restaurants, farmers markets, distilleries, and breweries are opening. So just how many ways can you now enjoy beer in Loudoun?

Breweries Brewers Matthew Hagerman and Fabio Garcia decided to stick around after Old Dominion Brewing Company relocated its Ashburn location and have brought local brews back to Loudoun with Lost Rhino Brewing Company. Since then, the owners of Corcoran Vineyards opened Corcoran Brewing Company on the same site as the winery, making the property Loudoun’s first winery/brewery (and the first in Virginia I believe!)  Keep an eye out for Adroit Theory and Mud Hound, two Loudoun based nano-breweries that have recently started brewing.

Brew Pubs Vintage 50 Restaurant & Brew Lounge in Leesburg brews 500 barrels annually and typically features nine beers on tap. Between their great deals at happy hour and their locally source, gourmet pub fare like a plate of Lothar’s Gourmet Sausage with pickled shallots and brewhouse mustards,  it’s no surprise that it’s hard to find a seat in the lounge in the evenings.

Part of the Great American Restaurant group, Sweetwater Tavern has been a local favorite in Sterling since it opened its doors in 2001. Brewer Nick Funnell has 26 years experience and currently produces 1,000 barrels a year at Sweetwater. The restaurant menu here has something for everyone – ribs, burgers, steaks, seafood. My favorite item at Sweetwater though is a basket of their hot, slightly sweet yeast rolls. A nice cold beer and those buttery light rolls can melt any bad day away.

Beer Lists Not to Miss I almost called this list “More Beer than You Can Drink in A Month’s Worth of Visits” but I didn’t want to issue a competitive drinking challenge! Loudoun is home to some of the best beer lists around – partially due to the Tuskies Restaurant Group: Tuscarora Mill, Magnolias at the Mill, and Fireworks Pizza. Each of these restaurants features a beer list that will make any beer lover weak in the knees. My last count of Fireworks’ beer menu showed over 60 beers by the bottle and 8 on draft, and that doesn’t include their special and seasonal offerings. Coming out of the gate strong, newcomer MacDowell Brew Kitchen is making a name for themselves with over 130 beers by the bottle and 9 on draft. Döner Bistro and their Biergarten is located right next door to MacDowell’s and across the street from Fireworks, in what is becoming known as Leesburg’s Beermuda Triangle. A great place to start your beer tour -  just make sure you can find your way back out!

Finally, this is the weekend to be a beer lover in wine country! The 5th Annual Northern Virginia Brewfest returns to Morven Park in Leesburg with over 50 of America’s best breweries slated to be onsite sampling their finest brews. Check out their website for ticket information, a full line up of breweries, and the schedule for the Brewfest Buses, offering shuttle services from the Vienna Metro Station as well as locations around Leesburg. Prost!