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Loudoun County leads Virginia in the number of craft breweries and also boasts some of the best beer in the Commonwealth.
On June 4, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild announced the results of the 2018 Virginia Craft Beer Cup, highlighting four Loudoun breweries: Old Ox, Belly Love, Black Hoof and Crooked Run.
The contest had 375 beers competing in 27 categories, making it one of the largest state competitions in the U.S. The competition is designed to give its members the opportunity to compete, obtain critical feedback from 38 certified judges, and get statewide recognition that will help build their brands.
Belly Love Brewing Company took home top honors in the Strong Belgian Ale category with its appropriately named 50 Shades of Gold. Craft breweries are known for small batch concoctions, but 50 Shades of Gold is one of five “classics” that Belly Love always has on tap at its Purcellville location.
This award comes at a time when owner and head brewer Tolga Baki has announced plans to open another separate venture, Hillsborough Farm Brewery.
Black Hoof Brewing’s Weissbier was honored as the first place German Wheat Beer. That’s a big deal for the Leesburg microbrewery that puts “an emphasis on traditional, true-to-style German lagers and European ales.”
The award comes just in time for the brewery’s first-anniversary party, scheduled for Saturday, June 9, at noon.
Crooked Run Brewing also placed in the German Wheat category, snagging third place with its Hefeweizen style brew called Best Days. Currently on tap at both the Leesburg and Sterling locations, this beer is a crowd favorite known for its elements of banana and cloves.
Crooked Run is a bona fide Loudoun success story, starting in 2013 off of a Kickstarter campaign and already expanding into a second successful location.
Old Ox Brewery bagged two awards: second place for the Black Ox Porter in the American Porter and Stout category, and third place in the Spiced Beer category with Kristin’s Passion. The Black Ox Porter is always available and Kristin’s Passion is occasionally available at the Ashburn brewery location.
Old Ox is also celebrating a birthday, with its fourth-anniversary celebration scheduled for Saturday, June 16, at noon.
Craft breweries are a major boon for economic development, as they contribute to the community as businesses, help unrelated industries attract workforce talent, and are an important cog in Loudoun’s $1.7 billion domestic tourism industry.
There is a genuine excitement about craft brewing in Loudoun County, and Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Hinkle sees no reason for that growth to slow. The county has 44 wineries, and Hinkle recently told Loudoun Now that there is plenty of room for breweries to catch up.
“I think that we are at an advantage in Loudoun because people expect their craft beverages to be local, because of the wine industry,” Hinkle said. “So I think everybody is jumping on board with the beer, because why not have their beer local, because their wine is local.”
Loudoun’s brewing industry will be at the epicenter of the beer world again this summer, as it hosts the 2018 Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference, a national event that draws 150 influential beer bloggers and social media influencers to Loudoun.
For more information on starting a brewery in Loudoun County, email Kellie Hinkle or call 1-800-LOUDOUN.