Hitting every brewery on Loudoun’s LoCo Ale Trail would take hours—not counting the time to get out of the car and stop at each brewery—and would involve an inadvisable amount of drinking and driving.
But this year’s LoCo BrewFest will be a chance to tour Loudoun’s expansive and growing brewery scene in one place. In fact the event’s organizer, Lashelle Davis, said she organized the layout of the festival to put distant breweries next to each other.
“It’s just important for us as a brewing community to lead this festival and feel like we’re a part of something that’s so much bigger than ourselves,” Davis said. And bigger it is. The first year of the LoCo Brewfest, only three years ago, featured only 12 breweries. This year there will be 25—and beers from some breweries that haven’t opened yet.
“As a local craft brewer, I want to own my backyard, which is now Loudoun County, so this was the best way that we can own where we live,” Davis said.
Once again, the festival will flood the streets of Loudoun Station, with food from The Zone, Black Finn, Basil Leaf, Burger 21 and Senor Tequila. On top of that, the Loudoun Station Farmer’s Market will be extending their normal hours to overlap with the festival, Loudoun County Exotics will put on a miniature car show with several exotic cars, and a DJ will spin music picked by the breweries. Even the t-shirts and portable toilets come from local companies.
And like many things in Loudoun’s brewery scene, the BrewFest is a collaborative effort. Lost Rhino’s graphic designer Logan Martin is designing the look of the event, and the executive team includes people from Solace, Old Ox, Lost Rhino, Crooked Run, Beltway, Vanish and Bear Chase—one of the breweries that hasn’t yet opened.
On top of being a chance to tour all of Loudoun’s beers in one session—with each brewery bringing a session beer, albeit with the definition of low-alcohol “session” beers stretched from 5 percent ABV to 6 percent—it’s also a chance to talk to the people who know the beer best.
“Part of being involved in the BrewFest is that the brewer, the owner, or brewing representation who knows about the beer—they have to pour at the festival so that the attendees can interact with them,” Davis said.
“There’s nothing cooler as a brewer than seeing guests get a taste of your beer and, without provoking them, see that smile upon their face if they really, truly love your beer,” said Quattro Goombas head brewer Chris Jacques. “That, to me, is the greatest feeling as a brewer and to me that is the most, best success that I can achieve.”
“It’s a hometown festival,” said Dragon Hops head brewer Mitch Pilchuk, a BrewFest first timer. “…Everybody that’s at this festival [comes] to talk to people that are involved with making the beer. How cool is that?”
“Visit Loudoun worked very closely with Lost Rhino to produce the first LoCo BrewFest in 2015, and to see it continue to flourish is a testament to the partnership and cooperative efforts within Loudoun’s growing brewery scene,” said Visit Loudoun Vice President of Marketing Jackie Suunders in a statement.
LoCo BrewFest is Saturday, June 2 from 1-6 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance for $40 at the door, and include unlimited tastings and a commemorative tasting glass. VIP tickets are $45 or $50 at the door, with only 300 available, and include one hour early entrance, and access to the designated VIP area with eight exclusive beers, as well as a 25 percent discount at Famous Toastery until 3 p.m. Designated driver/youth tickets are $10 and include unlimited root beer from Lost Rhino.
See the full list of beers on tap and get tickets in advance here. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-loco-brewfest-tickets-45902251871