After helping Hophead brew on Saturday [8/20/16] we were wiped out. I am his new Assistant brewer and you bet I am adding this to my resume.
Sunday brought rain and a wee bit of cabin fever for Hophead. I was fine because I was busy drying spent grain from the previous day’s brewing plus I was baking cinnamon buns for the first time. I incorporated spent grain and beer into the batter and made the icing with beer. As soon as that was out of the oven we were out the door.
We headed to Loudon County [Virginia]. Loudon County is BOOMING with craft breweries. Hophead was starving and wanted to go to MacDowell Brew Kitchen. The traffic from The Lucketts Fair was determined to thwart that goal.
We were close enough so we stopped at Vanish. Hophead knew he could get some brisket there and ease his growling belly. Alas no brisket but people were eating and so he passed the bar and went searching outside to find glorious [Cured] food truck out back. We should have checked Instagram since the full menu was on there. I wasn’t hungry but Hophead’s pork belly BLT slider looked good, so I had to taste one and couldn’t put it down.
We scoped out our next stop, with the goal to avoid traffic. As we left Vanish we noticed the traffic died down but we stayed on the new course and turned right at the big pig in Lucketts and travelled through Waterford. We found our way to Belly Love Brewing Company in Purceville, which is tucked away in the back of The Shoppes at Main and Maple.
I love their logo, which is a happy Buddha with a big belly. We ordered a flight so we could sample all of their beers. They have quite a few IPAs, which I tend to lean towards, and some great names like “My Bitter X” American IPA, “Shut the Fook Up” Pale Ale, “Unitard” Pekko and “Day Trippa’ S.I.P.A”. They have a small outdoor area and various seating inside that includes comfy sofas or tables with seating. It’s dark inside with exposed brick walls and limited bathrooms. Looks to be a 3 barrel brew system and they have a decent selection of food.
We mapped out our next stop in downtown Leesburg. 16 Minutes later we were parked and looking for Crooked Run Brewing. We walked through Market Station, on Harrison Street, which reminded me of Kings Dominion with the wooden stairs and exterior. It’s a tiny place with a small outdoor area and a bar inside and a few tables. Crooked Run Brewery is a nanobrewery started by raising money via Kickstarter. They have a small 1.5 barrel electric brewing system. Hophead and I got a flight of three beers and started with “Force of Nature”, a double IPA, crazy light color for 8%. This could get you into trouble. We also tried a Cherry Cayenne, which was good but I couldn’t do any more than a taster. Finally, there was the Peach Habanero. I was waiting to feel some heat but that took several sips and the heat was perfect and not overdone.
We got back in the car and were mapping our way to MacDowell Brew Kitchen (finally). Google maps said it was a two minute walk, which confused us since we didn’t realize we were so close. After acclimating ourselves and figuring out which direction to take we found it. This was our favorite place on this quest. They have a great outdoor area with palm trees and a boat. Yes a boat! It reminded me of a small Seacrets… In Leesburg, VA. The staff was very friendly and we met their brewer Dan [Instagram: @DanHeartsBeer]. MacDowell’s serves their own beer plus they have a very good selection of other Craft Brews. I had the Black IPA and Hophead tried the Rye IPA and we enjoyed them both plus the food was delicious.
I’d have to say it was a successful quest even though we got a bit off track at first. We made it to the places we wanted to make it to although in a different order. Sometimes you gotta go with the flow and find some surprises along the way.