By Patrick Szabo
Lost Barrel Brewing opened in December at the southwestern corner of Loudoun County, about a half-mile west of the Middleburg town limits off Rt. 50.
Situated on a 70-acre working horse farm that abuts the Salamander Resort & Spa, the brewery features 15 beers on tap, four varieties of hard seltzers and a full food menu. And its beer is brewed by a familiar face, Patrick Steffens, the former owner and brewer at Loudoun Brewing Co. in Leesburg.
Lost Barrel’s owners—a group of close friends—purchased the property in 2019 and began work to open within the year. That work was pushed back a bit when the COVID-19 pandemic hit three months later. Still, within a year they were able to restore the old house on the property, convert a barn into the brewery’s saloon events and party rental space, and build the 7,500-square-foot main brewery building, an open-air blend of industrial and country lodge space designed by Leesburg architect Tom O’Neil.
What made the opening easier was the professional backgrounds of the managing partners, Sam Busey and Joe Femia. Femia used his construction company to build the main brewery building and Busey continues to use his background in business to keep the brewery operational.
The brewing operations started a as small beer club with the businesses’ partners in Steffen’s basement. They focused on making high quality beers for friends and family just for fun. Eventually, the thoughts turned to ramping up that experience on a commercial scale.
“Once we made the decision to jump in with both feet, then it was just a matter of trying to bring a very high-quality operation to the area, both from a service standpoint and a product standpoint and from a people standpoint,” Steffens said.
The brewery offers 15 beers on tap, all produced in house using a 15-barrel Prospero brewing system.
“This has been quite an adventure to scale up. It’s a good size for us where we are right now, Steffens said. They soon plan to add distribution with kegs and cans.
The beer selection includes a light lager, a farm ale, an amber ale, a double IPA and an oatmeal stout. There are also four gluten-free hard seltzers for sale: wild cherry, lemon-lime, blood orange and grapefruit. All the ingredients Lost Barrel uses to create its beer and seltzer are organic.
While Steffens prefers hoppy IPAs, one of the most popular beers is the Farm Ale, a Belgian-style saison.
The brewery also offers guests a full food menu that includes five varieties of wings, sandwiches, flatbreads and sharable plates like bacon pops, chicken potstickers and brewhouse mac and cheese.
Lost Barrel is the second brewery in Middleburg area; Old Ox Brewery opened in downtown Middleburg in 2019. Marketing & Events Manager Natalie Femia said Lost Barrel and Old Ox complement each other, since Old Ox operates as a more indoor, traditional bar space and Lost Barrel has more outdoor, farm space on which guests are invited to picnic.
While the brewery already has a strong tourist draw, Steffens said the locals have been welcoming as well. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the community as far as the products and the atmosphere, which has been very encouraging. It is nice to get that welcoming kind of feedback,” he said.
Thursday night trivia already has grown into a popular community event and Natalie Femia said they plan to work closely with local organizations. Already, it has worked with Dogtopia on an outdoor dog event and is planning to host a Tales and Ales fundraiser.
Lost Barrel Brewing, located at 36138 John Mosby Highway, is open Sunday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more at lostbarrel.com.