Written by Shayda Windle

From family-friendly destination breweries to full-scale craft beer distilleries with an international following, there’s no lack of unique taprooms to visit in and around Hunt Country. This year’s list of our favorite breweries contains a little bit of everything. From scenic views and fire pits to live music and events, you’re sure to find your new favorite spot to grab a brew this fall.

Adroit Theory. Courtesy Photo

Harvest Gap Brewery, Bluemont

Harvest Gap Brewery is a family-owned farm brewery located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Owned and operated by Mike and Katherine Virts, the family has been rooted in Loudoun County farming traditions since the 1700s. As the farming tradition was passed on, the Virts family decided to use the land to grow barley and began brewing their own beers. Harvest Gap Brewery was born last October.

“When we opened the brewery in October of 2020, everyone was having challenges with their limitations in capacity and indoor seating,” Katherine Virts says. “We were able to offer people ample outdoor space, so that gave us a lot of opportunity, and people were happy to social distance and watch their kids play.”

The brewery includes a full-service restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, games, and entertainment for kids and adults alike. A full menu offers items like the chicken, apple, brie, and spinach panini, a Guinness beer bratwurst, and apple cider donuts, to name a few. The brewery also partners with a variety of food trucks, and each weekend there’s something different to enjoy. Whether it’s Thai, Mexican, or American food, the food trucks cater to every taste.

There is live music all weekend at Harvest Gap and a variety of events throughout the year. As the weather starts getting cooler, the brewery opens up private fire-pit rentals and hands out blankets and s’mores kits.

There isn’t anything the team hasn’t thought of for a fun-filled day outside in the picturesque setting of Harvest Gap with a local brew in hand. With its convenient location just off of Charles Town Pike (VA Rt. 9), we can’t think of a better place to spend an afternoon. You can find out more about Harvest Gap here:

Bear Chase Brewery, Bluemont

Just down the road from Harvest Gap Brewery is Bear Chase Brewing Company, located on 33 acres of the same picturesque, wooded property as historic Bear Chase Manor. The owners transformed the manor house, originally planned as a wedding venue, into a six-bedroom VRBO rental complete with an indoor pool, sauna, exercise room, and a jacuzzi with mountain views that those at the brewery enjoy.

A few years ago the team decided they wanted to utilize the property for something more, and the idea of a brewery was born. In 2018, Bear Chase Brewery opened its doors to the public, offering a variety of beer, seltzer, wine slushies, and warm food including pizza and pretzels. Throughout the week, the brewery hosts live music and other events. The Brew Barn is known as the “heart” of Bear Chase, a renovated historic barn that houses a complete 10-barrel system on one side and a smaller 3.5-barrel system on the other side. There’s also a taproom for taste testing and plenty of room for special events or simply relaxing with a cold brew.

On October 23, Bear Chase will be hosting their first annual local beer festival from 12- 6, including beers and drinks from other local breweries like Black Hoof, Crooked Run, Solace and more. Then on November 14, Bear Chase is partnering with Honor Brewing Company, with whom they just created a new craft beer, for a military appreciation day. Proceeds from the event will go to Boulder Crest Retreat, a nonprofit whose mission is to help struggling veterans and first responders. Find out more about Bear Chase here:

Mt. Defiance Brewery, Middleburg

We can’t think of anything better than an ice-cold cider on a crisp autumn afternoon. Located in the heart of historic Hunt Country, Mt. Defiance in Middleburg creates award-winning, handcrafted, small-batch hard cider and spirits in their two stores — the Cider Barn and the Distillery.

At the Mt. Defiance Cider Barn, you’ll find a little bit of everything, from classic and craft ciders, including traditional farmhouse blends of dry and single variety ciders, to a spectrum of infused drinks like ginger cider or their five-pepper cider, the perfect pairing for your next barbecue. Mt. Defiance cider is best described as “eclectic and accessible, [because they] believe there should be a cider to suit a wide variety of tastes and food pairings.”

Mt. Defiance Cider Barn

Located on a hilltop on the edge of town, the cider barn is the perfect place to spend an afternoon tasting flights or glasses of your ciders, Sweet Vermouth, or Pommeau. Snacks are available (cheese, crackers and nuts), and on warm weekends the barn normally hosts a food truck.

Just down the street from the Cider Barn is Mt. Defiance Distillery, located in a repurposed service station at the intersection of Washington St. and The Plains Rd. The distillery “explores the world of ‘lost spirits’ that had fallen out of favor either due to post-Prohibition mass production methods, out-of-date laws, or both,” the website states. They hope to honor the colonial-era town of Middleburg with one of the most popular spirits of that time: rum.

Many products are available in Virginia ABC stores and restaurants and at select stores in Washington, D.C. Tastings are available both at the cidery and distillery. Find out more about Mt. Defiance here:

Old Trade Brewery, Brandy Station

Old Trade Brewery is a rural, farm-based operation located in Brandy Station, in Culpeper County. It was opened with the hopes of revitalizing the art and culture of hand-crafted, seasonal and traditional beers once popular in the U.S. and Europe while driving innovation in the brewing industry. Old Trade offers a family-friendly environment with everything from live music, ax throwing, a bouncy house and playground, and games for kids to play while you enjoy the breathtaking landscape with their latest brew.

Old Trade offers a wide selection of beers, ciders, and food options, with regular on-site events like live music, cornhole tournaments, and more. There’s even a dog park on-site for your fur babies. If that weren’t enough, Old Trade is currently undergoing renovations to an event barn that will be able to host up to 115 people, slated to launch in 2022. The interior will have a rustic feel and includes a bar with beer, cider, and wine options, restrooms, and heating and cooling. The barn will also include outdoor seating. The owners of Old Trade have truly thought of everything. Find out more about the brewery here:

Adroit Theory, Purcellville

Adroit Theory stands out from other destination breweries in the area in that they are uniquely situated in an industrial warehouse. They started as a taproom for serious beer connoisseurs interested more in the craft of brewing rather than a family experience. Since opening in 2014, Adroit has made well over 1,000 distinct beers, and they routinely release three or four new beers every week.

Adroit is a “niche brewery that focuses on extreme genre beers,” owner Mark Osborne says. “We routinely make high ABV beers that are as boozy as they are delicious. We are also a ‘dark art’ themed brewery, so be prepared for heavy metal blasting in the taproom at the highest volumes.”

Adroit is serious about brewing and is proud to distribute all over the U.S. in 20 states, as well as internationally in over 20 countries.

More often than not, Adroit does not make a beer more than once. Osborne says, “We do have a handful of beers that we make from time to time, but often the recipe changes from one iteration to the next.”

Adroit is most well known for their big, imperial stouts, followed by double-digit ABV Hazy IPAs, and their fruited sours, which are more akin to a fruit smoothie than anything else.

They also offer many pre-packaged snacks including cheese, charcuterie, nuts, chips, and jerky. Adroit occasionally hosts food trucks, which they advertise on social media. The brewery also allows customers to bring in their own food or have it delivered. Come check out one of Hunt Country’s top local breweries that’s made a name for itself all over the world. Find out more about Adroit here: adroit-theory.comML

This article first appeared in the October 2021 Issue.