While Loudoun County is undoubtedly known for its impressive number and quality of wineries, the geographically diverse region is also quickly becoming a craft beer destination point. With six Loudoun breweries winning awards at this year’s Virginia Craft Beer Cup Competition, the quality of Loudoun’s local brews is evident. Loudoun also continues to boast the highest number of breweries of any county in the Commonwealth. To further foster the burgeoning beer scene in the county, Visit Loudoun launched its LoCo Ale Trail, promoting over 30 breweries.
The trail features breweries clustered in four separate locations or categories including Farm Breweries, Purcellville Gateway, Downtown Leesburg, and the Dulles Corridor. Each cluster includes four to fourteen breweries and represents the various different landscapes where visitors can enjoy tasting their way through craft brews, from mountaintops to farms and industrial parks to cozy small towns.
“Visit Loudoun created the LoCo Ale Trail as a way to support the ever-expanding craft beer scene,” Visit Loudoun Director of Media Relations Jennifer Sigal said. “The passport program was then initiated as a way to help guide visitors through all the different settings and opportunities found at Loudoun’s 30-plus craft breweries.”
Four Beer Scenes
With so many breweries included on the LoCo Ale Trail, there are literally hundreds of beers to sample.
To showcase the more rural beer scene, The Farm Breweries cluster also focuses on the agricultural side of beer production. The MidAtlantic’s first commercial hops processing facility opened in 2015 at Black Hops Farm, now also home to Vanish Farmwoods Brewery and Pilot Malt House. Virginia’s climate, soil, and landscape make it ideal for growing hops, and Black Hops Farm helps to supply breweries in Loudoun as well as others throughout the East Coast. In addition to Vanish and Black Hops farms, travelers can visit Barnhouse Brewery, B Chord Brewing Company, Bearchase Brewing Company, Dirt Farm Brewing, Harper’s Ferry Brewing, Hillsborough Brewery, Old 690 Brewing Company, and Quattro Goombas Brewery.
On the opposite end of the geographical spectrum, The Leesburg cluster, with Bike TrAle Brewing, Black Hoof Brewing Company, Black Walnut Brewing, Crooked Run Brewing, Dog Money Restaurant and Brewery, and Loudoun Brewing Company, focuses on tasting rooms in and around the historic downtown area.
The Dulles Corridor, with its decidedly more commercial ambiance, features the most breweries of the clusters, including Beltway Brewing Company, Crooked Run Brewing – Central, Dynasty Brewing Company, House 6 Brewing Company, Ocelot Brewing Company, Old Ox Brewery (which recently opened a second location), Phase Two Brewing, Rocket Frog Brewing Company, Solace Brewing Company, Sweetwater Tavern, The Craft of Brewing, Twinpanzee Brewing Company, and two Lost Rhino locations.
In contrast, the Purcellville Gateway cluster encompasses the region to the west with breweries in both urban and rural locations including Adroit Theory Brewing, Belly Love Brewing Company, and Dragon Hops Brewing.
Play the LoCo Passport Game
While the organization provides handy tools like the AleTrail guide, downloadable from Visit Loudoun’s website, which helps to visualize and plan a day of tasting room hopping, they’ve also sweetened the pot (or barrel, as it were) with prizes for participants in their LoCo Ale Trail passport program. Visitors (and locals) can pick up a passport at any Loudoun brewery then visit tasting rooms and collect stamps to win prizes like tee shirts, bandanas, bottle openers, koozies, and beer coasters after completing a cluster.
Those who complete all four clusters will receive a grand prize. Once a cluster (or all four) on the passport is completed, the holder can redeem the rewards by visiting the Loudoun County Visitor Center in Leesburg or by e-mailing or mailing the passport. Mailed passports are returned within 2-3 weeks.
“To date, 48 people have completed the full LoCo Ale Trail, and more than 100 have participated since launching in September 2018, “ Sigal shared. “Since September 2018, Visit Loudoun has also distributed 30,000 LoCo Ale Trail maps/passports and have had cluster conquerors from states as far as Pennsylvania, Colorado, and even Washington. The most popular clusters seem to be Leesburg and Purcellville.”
Add Some Adventure
Brewery hoppers can arrive by vehicle, but Visit Loudoun has also compiled a lengthy list of local activities within 5 – 20 minutes of various breweries, highlighting the diversity of opportunities to explore the area. For outdoor adventures, the website lists locations for zip lining, kayaking, canoes, hiking, and biking. Indoor activities include iFly skydiving and Exit Plan Escape Room. For an indoor/outdoor experience, Top Golf is listed as well.
Users of Visit Loudoun’s website can also uncover other activities like retail excursions, winery visits, tours, festivals, and shops. For those driving a distance to Loudoun’s LoCo Ale Trail to for a “beercation,” the site helpfully recommends where to stay. Need something to soak up all those suds? They have restaurant recommendations as well.
For access to all the information that Visit Loudoun has to offer about the LoCo Ale Trail and the region, including the downloadable LoCo Ale Trail map and guide, visit their website at www.visitloudoun.org.