When Ashburn's Lost Rhino Brewing Company launched in 2011 in Loudoun County, it was nearly alone as a production brewery. A few short years later, it has plenty of company as a number of other production breweries of all shapes, sizes, and portfolios have opened. There are so many breweries, and restaurants featuring their beer, in Loudoun County, which is west of Fairfax County, that the county's Visitors Center has recently launched the LoCo Ale Trail to show off the burgeoning attraction.
As of this writing, 14 breweries are listed on the Ale Trail website, some of which (Lost Rhino, Old Ox, Ocelot, and Adroit Theory) have regular distribution in DC, while you'll need to get closer to their home turf to sample the others. There are also five restaurants featuring the county's brews. Given how many breweries-in-planning there are in Virginia overall and Loudoun County specifically, however, expect to see both of these lists swell in the future.
The LoCo Ale Trail is broken down into seven different itineraries. Five of these are two day itineraries, and the remaining two take just a single day. Each itinerary includes recommendations of where to stay (including LoCo bed and breakfasts) and where to eat.
- Blue Ridge Trail – Centered around Purcellville, this itinerary takes beer fans to Belly Love, Corcoran, Adroit Theory, and Old 690 Brewing Companies.
- Brews by Bike Trail – This two-day tour of seven breweries takes advantage of the Washington & Old Dominion bike trail that links Loudoun County with DC. It's worth noting here: we don't condone drinking and biking; please be exceedingly careful. Drink responsibly if you need to drink at all while biking from brewery to brewery, and always wear a helmet. Breweries visited on this itinerary: Beltway, Old Ox, Lost Rhino, Crooked Run, Belly Love, Corcoran, and Adroit Theory.
- Dulles Trail – If you want a beer and a flight, this is the path for you. Four breweries over two days: Beltway, Old Ox, Lost Rhino, and Ocelot.
- Farm Breweries Trail – This trail allows beer drinkers to experience Loudoun County's terroir. LoCo has an ordinance that allows for farm breweries, and the breweries on this trail use ingredients in their beers that were grown on their farms. Breweries visited: Old 690, Dirt Farm Brewing, B Chord Brewing Company (in planning), Barnhouse Brewery (in planning), Quattro Goomba's Brewery (co-located with Quattro Goombas Winery).
- Monroe Trail – This one day itinerary centers around the James Monroe Highway (Rt. 15). Breweries visited: Quattro Goomba's Brewery, Crooked Run Brewing, Barnhouse Brewery (in planning)
- Mosby Trail – Another one day itinerary. This one's namesake is John Mosby, who fought for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. This tour has three stops through LoCo's horse country before heading toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. Breweries included: Quattro Goomba's Brewery, Dirt Farm Brewing, B Chord Brewing (in planning)
- Pints with Pups Trail – Five stops, all of which are accommodating to dogs. No need to find a dogsitter, just bring your pup with you! Breweries included: Ocelot, Quattro Goomba's Brewery, Crooked Run Brewing, Corcoran Brewing, and Dirt Farm Brewing.
All of these breweries, and some of the restaurants, will come together for the LoCo Brewfest on Saturday, October 24 from 12-6pm at Lost Rhino Brewing Company. In addition to beer from 15 breweries, there will also be food offerings from restaurants and food trucks, and the unveiling of a collaboration brew (made at Old Ox) made entirely with Virginia malts and Loudoun County hops.
Interested in knowing more about the Loudoun County beer scene? We cover as much as we can, but DC is really our wheelhouse. Be sure to keep an eye on the LoCo Ale Trail site, but also on Brewdoun, a local spotlight for the Loudoun County craft beer scene. Congrats to LoCo for this new and exciting development; we're looking forward to seeing more!