I have spent most of my life in Northern Virginia (referred to as NoVA around here). I lived in Leesburg for ten years, and currently live in Arlington. Throughout my life, NoVA has transformed dramatically, going from vaguely rural to thriving suburb to (over)crowded mini metropolis just over the past decade. As such, when my parents come to visit me and we take a drive to our old Loudoun County stomping ground, we have trouble recognizing a lot of the scenery, with McMansions and strip malls popping up over the fields and woods we once knew.
However, amidst the growth and urban sprawl is a dedication to local business, to working within the land as opposed to over it. We saw this in our earlier Leesburg years in the thriving wine industry in Purcellville and beyond, along with local craft shops and farm stands. Now, we’re seeing this with breweries. Several have cropped up over the past several years, and seem to have a cozy home just beyond the DC suburbs. Some are in business parks, others are on farms; but all work to maintain not only a sense of atmosphere, but a sense of local pride, using ingredients from nearby farmers and considering other surrounding businesses to be neighbors, not competition.
One such brewery is Corcoran Brewing Co. in Purcellville, VA. Located in a small business park a few miles off of Leesburg Pike, Corcoran is a brewery I first discovered two years ago at Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest. When my parents, husband, and I were planning a trip out to Loudoun during my parents’ Christmas visit, we all decided a brewery visit was in order; and chose a brewery none of us had ever visited before.
Corcoran is on the backside of a brick office park, but lots of signs direct you to its entrance. There are picnic tables outside which look out into a sparse wood and walking path. The brewery itself is one large room, with a long bar and barrel “tables” spread out across the floor. There is a large leather couch and coffee table in the corner, with board games available for play; and a popcorn machine stands near the bar for a complimentary snack (Corcoran also serves pizza and pretzels).
As good as the food sounded, we were there for some beer. Beer ranges from 12-oz to 16-oz pours, or a flight of five 3-oz pours. Flights are the rule when I visit a brewery, and me, my husband, and father each ordered one (my mother took one for the team and volunteered to be the designated driver).
My flight ranged from standard to experimental, much like Corcoran’s menu. All were tasty, and as follows:
*Dutchman’s Creek Hefeweizen — this was a crisp, clean hefeweizen, with all the banana and spicy flavors you’d expect. Best in warmer seasons, but we were in the midst of an unseasonably warm winter day, so perchè no?
*Slainte Stout — chocolatey, roasty, and smooth … everything you’d want in an Irish dry stout. This is up there in my favorites of the style. I may have to grab some more come March.
*LoCollaboration Harvest Ale — this is a beer produced in collaboration with other Loudoun County (LoCo) breweries and distilleries, with local malts and hops included. The flavor was very clean and fruity.
*Dark Apprentice Pumpkin Porter — this is a dark pumpkin porter, brewed as a companion to their Padawan Pumpkin ale. The flavor was surprisingly tart, but with a good amount of pumpkin spice. Personally I preferred the Padawan Pumpkin, which my father had on his flight.
*Emmanubräu Barleywine — this was tied with Slainte for my favorite of the flight. It was smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough to not be overpowering. I liked it a lot, though I probably couldn’t have much more than 8 or 12 ounces if I were to have more than a sample.
While tempting to get another flight, I decided to be (somewhat) kind to my sobriety and just get a single pint. I chose J.E.B. Stuart, a barrel-aged stout poured on nitro. The nitro pour complemented the flavors nicely, allowing the coffee and the booze to come through smoothly. It was a perfect finish to a great tasting.
If you are visiting Loudoun County, I highly recommend paying Corcoran Brewing Co. a visit. You’ll find brews of all shapes and sizes, and it’s a great place for groups and individuals alike. Sláinte!