Not exactly the worst winter we have had. In all it only snowed once all season which really sucked. Just because it didn’t snow doesn’t mean it wasn’t cold. Saturday was a perfect day to do a brewery tour. We started by fueling our body with some kick ass tacos from Bartaco before heading to Lake Anne Brew House. Not the easiest place to find but it was the closest to lunch and we had never been there before. Nothing real special about the beer but an interesting location with some potential. The Cold-Brew Coffee and Simon’s Stout was the perfect thing to get my going first thing in the afternoon.
Next up we headed out to Leesburg. I knew there were several we had not tried and I remember seeing two new ones being built. We got a recommendation for Black Walnut Brewing and it was a winner. The brewery is a small house in the back of the lot. When we walked in the place was packed and noisy as crap. The rooms are tiny and with a few people talking everyone just tries to talk over each other. We eventually went to the bar and spent a long time here. The bartender was cool as shit and a regular had us cracking up. The beer here was much better then Lake Anne with a good strange variety offered.
Late in the afternoon we stopped at one last spot, Crooked Run Brewing. This is a personal favorite of mine since I first found this place. Their beers are very eclectic and challenge my palate which I really love. It was late and a long afternoon of drinking so we didn’t stay here very long. It was a Saturday night and the place was absolutely smashed with people. We did however find out they opened a new location in Sterling which was much bigger. The Sterling location would become their main brewery with the Leesburg being I think for small batch or maybe it was sours, I don’t remember.
I can’t think of to many better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. One thing I really like about this area is the number of brewers and the quality of much of their work.
Nothing like a visit to a brewery on a crisp fall day. Nancy had been here once shortly after they opened but I had never been. Being just a few miles north of Leesburg it is in rural Virginia with some peaceful views of the surrounding mountains.
Vanish Farmwoods Brewery is a working farm so as you drive up to the place you pass by their hop fields. Not sure exactly how many acres or what types they grow but I know they use it in their own beers. I have noticed a growing trend of farmers turning into brewers or vice versa. To me it seems like a logical choice as getting the right type and amount of hops has been becoming more difficult of late. You also get to control all aspects of the process when you grow it yourself. Another trend I have see which Vanish takes advantage of is using wet hops in various recipe.
Outside there is a large area with benches and on a nicer days it would b perfect sitting outside with friends drinking beer. Inside there are a ton more benches sorta like a traditional beer hall. When they designed this place they certainly made it big enough to accommodate large crowds. The bar itself is huge with ample space for people to buy beer without a line. There is even a section just for walk up service to make things quick and easy. In the back corner there is a BBQ joint which is nice. It is technical a “food truck” but is a permanent installation. One of the bar tenders mentioned that as soon as something is nailed down, the law governing it change.
So the beer. The menu was huge with a good variety of flavors. There lineup is certainly IPA heavy but I think they do it rather well. There is a large variety of IPA sub-styles which Vanish certainly had enough to choose from. There had dark ones, salty ones, high alcohol, and not surprisingly a regular old india pale ale as well. Certainly high marks for their creativity and flavor. I would like to know more about the farm to beer process they employee and sample some of the more limited seasonal varieties around harvest time.
Another great beer find around Leesburg . The setting is great with a large venue and a huge selection of beer. They have regular live music and with the onsite BBQ joint there is no reason you can’t spend hours drinking beers with friends. While the day was not quite over we hit up Barnhouse Brewery on the way home for one last flight to cap the day.
For Matt’s birthday he wanted to do a beer tour. For his job he travels a lot around the state and noticed a brewery sign like you see for wineries around Lovettsville and wanted to visit it. The only brewery I know of in that area is Mad Horse Brewpub so we setup that as the first location. Because it was Matt’s birthday I was DD so he could enjoy himself.
When we arrived at the brewery I was surprised to see Michael behind the bar. We have seen him every time we have gone to Creek’s Edge Winery which is just down the road from Mad Horse. We immediately said hello and started chatting. Come to find out Michael bought the brewpub not long ago. He and his partners have completely redone the beer menu and according to Michael, made it much better he said. Nancy visited the placed several years ago and didn’t have much good to say about it. When we ordered our samplers, I had high hopes for the revamped brewpub.
We each ordered a full flight of eight beers and got to work. I must say I was impressed with most all of the beers. They had great flavor and well balanced plus the selection was a wide variety that there should be something for everyone. As DD I paced myself and allowed my cohorts to be a little more liberally. Honestly it was good because it allowed me more time to properly sample the beers and write my reviews of each. Average rating by me was almost 3 so that was good. The IPA and stout where particularly good to me. There is food available, we got the BBQ nachos and they where great. Food is pretty limited but this too is a good selection and everything was great that we tried.
From here we started making our way back to Fairfax and dinner. We headed to Leesburg and stopped at Crooked Run for another glass. Here we meetup with Pat and she started on the journey with us. I also took the time to catch up with an old friend who is working at Leesburg Cigar and Pipe. I love this nano brewery. They always have some small batch weird crazy stuff available. I will admit that it is not for everyone but I love this place. I got the raspberry Wishing Well which was cask conditioned and it was good. Has a nice flavor of raspberry’s and is a very “thick” beer. I even got a bottle of Shadow of Truth to go. I haven’t seen bottles from them so I took the opportunity to snag one for my cellar.
Finally we ended up at Brio Tuscan Grill in Fair Oaks Mall for dinner. This was a combination dinner for Matt and mine since we missed officially celebrating it. The food was good but honestly it was way to much. By the time our main course arrived we had already filled up on apps and salad none of us could finished the main meal. I was so full I didn’t even get dessert which is highly unusual for me.
Another successful weekend of beer stating around the great state of Virginia. As we get older it is no really about presents any longer. I much more enjoy spending time with friends and family instead of having gifts and a giant party. Next up is Nancy and I think for her I would like to do something a little different. We have been to many wineries and breweries but never a distillery. We are all now another year old and another year wiser.
It’s not often that Nancy’s birthday falls on a Friday and the following Monday is MLK day meaning a long weekend to celebrate Nancy’s birthday. I had been trying for weeks to get Nancy to commit to something for her birthday but she really didn’t want to. She would have been content to sit at home but Pat was able to wrangle her into going out to celebrate with the family.
We started the night off in Round Hill, about 45 minutes the way our drunk crow flew. We started at a winery and slowly work our way back home traveling down route 7. We took the country roads to Bogati Bodega & Vineyard for a couple bottles of wine. We settle on Fat Ass which was pretty good. While not to far for us, everyone was able to make it in a reasonable amount of time. I believe Pat mentioned she left at 10:30am to make it on time.
After that we headed to Leesburg for a very nice dinner at Tuscarora Mills. Nancy had been here once before for a baby shower and raved about the food. Everyone was excited about this place and I must say it didn’t disappoint. Greg meet an old co-worker who bought two bottle of wine for the table. Besides the table being to small for 6 people, the food was excellent. We got the full spread with apps, main course, desserts and coffee. All of which were very good and while a little expensive, was worth the price.
After a nice dinner we headed across the street to MacDowell Brew Kitchen for a night cap. The place was a little busy so we headed up stairs and found there was free comedy show going on. We got a round and enjoyed the show. I don’t remember the name of the guy, he was ok. He had his moments but it was certainly worth the price of admission.
By the end of the show everyone bailed. It was pretty late and everyone else had a long drive ahead of them. Nancy and I decided to head to Clyde’s Willow Creek for one last set of drinks since it didn’t close till 2am. Nancy has tried to get me out there to see her happy hour crew and I was happy to oblige. I don’t know if we meet any of the regulars but I did meet one of the happy hour bartenders, Jeff. Definitely not my scene but the people watching was pretty good.
Eventually we made it home after a long night out, close to 2:00 in the morning I believe. It was an eventful evening with lots of stops. I wonder what we will do next year, Nancy’s birthday should fall on a Saturday so that is a full day of activities. We packed four things into eight ours, can’t imagine what we will do with a full 24 hours.