Beer has always been part of Virginia’s history but today it’s seeing a renaissance with over 60 craft breweries and the recent designation of August as Virginia Craft Beer Month. The Travel Channel also recently named Virginia one of the nation’s top seven beer destinations.
In our efforts to tout “all that is local” we did a quick search for breweries within an hour of Reston and set our sites on Purcellville, VA. Purcellville is home to the edgy, experimental Adroit Theory and the combined winery/brewery operation, Corcoran.
Adroit Theory is located in the rear of a warehouse and has a cool industrial vibe plus an indoor/outdoor patio.
This brewery likes to mark some of their beers as “Experimental” and they aren’t kidding! The tasting here was a juggernaut of eight brews employing techniques such as barrel aging, spices and citrus. Overall an impressive array of beers. Their IPAs were not overtly hopped but had the right subtle bitterness with hints of lemon and star anise. The Saisons and Old Ale are aged in wine barrels imparting the distinct oakiness and tannins only found in wine. It is clear this brewery pushes the envelope in every way but always finds the right balance to produce a unique and enjoyable drink.
This is beer brewing 101 with solid offerings across every style from the very light and crisp Commonwealth Kolsch-style Ale to the other end of the spectrum with the malty Jeb Stuart Imperial Stout. Of particular note would be the LoCo and Hops the Bunny, two great IPAs with lots of hops character. The LoCo is an American style IPA employing six different types of hops from the Pacific Northwest and having that great bite you would expect. Hops the Bunny was inspired by Corcoran’s unofficial mascot and former resident rabbit. It’s a great play on words for this IPA with a gorgeous amber color and the right amount of “hoppiness” to boot.
A short drive away from Purcellville is Lovettsville, VA, a small German settlement with the family-friendly Mad Horse Brew Pub. Residents of Lovettsville take their German heritage very seriously and boast about having the best Oktoberfest this side of Munich.
Three beers were on tap at Mad Horse Brewery with a very malty but clean finishing Belgian-style Trappist Ale. Second was the Hefey-wizen, an unfiltered German wheat that was very crisp and perfect on a hot day. Finally, was a Vienna-style lager that was very similar to Negra Modelo (Austro-Germanic brewers at one time made their way to Mexico).
Mad Horse’s pub fare.
A HUGE Bavarian pretzel — the perfect complement to Mad Horse’s brews.
Because one cannot live on beer alone, we stopped by the Purcellville location of Haute Dogs and Fries. Try their locally produced Kielbasa, lamb sausage or bratwurst with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, peppers, mangoes, homemade chili or another of their myriad of toppings.
Are you a beer-lover? What other breweries are worth trying in the area? We’d love to hear from you!