By Patrick Szabo
The county’s first-ever combination brewery, bourbon distillery and rum distillery—all situated on a working farm—has opened to customers.
Flying Ace Distillery & Brewery opened Thursday near the village of Taylorstown. Visitors to the 55-acre working farm property can taste Flying Ace’s eight different types of beer, three types of bourbon and rum, in addition to food from Chef Erik Foxx. By mid-summer, they’ll also be able to purchase barbecue from Monk’s BBQ.
The brewery is the brainchild of Hadi Akkad, a Leesburg resident who in 2018 sold his financial technology firm to US Bank. Akkad said he wanted to do something different after selling his company.
“I’m a city boy and the idea of owning a farm was always kind of romantic,” he said.
When he set out to purchase land in Loudoun, he stumbled upon Simpson Farm. He bought the property right away, noting that the vibe there was exactly what he was looking for. That was in 2019.
Since then, his team has constructed new buildings and renovated the existing ones to create an environment suitable for the whole family.
Flying Ace is serving three types of bourbons: a 90 proof, a 116 proof, and a White Dog 80 proof. It’s also serving an 80-proof silver rum and eight different beers: a Dogfight Ale, a Punch Out IPA, an Air Boss Pilsner, a Warbird Wit, a Lights Out Stout, a Go Juice Blackberry Sour, an Imperial Pilsner, and a German Lager.
Brewing that beer is Steve O’Neil, the former brewer at Pittsburgh’s The Church Brew Works, which won the Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year award at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
To make the liquor, Akkad’s team uses a custom-built still crafted by Louisville, KY-based Vendome Copper & Brass Works, along with two, 1,000-gallon fermenters. On the brewery side of the operation, Flying Ace uses a 20-barrel brewhouse with multiple 20- and 40-barrel fermenters.
Before opening to the public, the Flying Ace team canned about 20,000 cans of Dogfight Ale, Punch Out IPA, Air Boss Pilsner, Warbird Wit, and Lights Out Stout.
At the center of the farm is the renovated main barn, where Monk’s BBQ will operate starting in July as “Monk’s on the Farm.” In the interim, Foxx, the longtime chef at Magnolias at The Mill in Purcellville who opened The Polished Foxx at ChefScape in Leesburg last year, will be selling food at a popup location on the property.
Upstairs in the main barn, via a spiral staircase added to the interior of an old silo, guests aged 21 and up will have a place to mingle with dart boards and foosball in the mix.
Next door, guests have the option to grab a picnic table in the pavilion, which is built like an Oktoberfest-like enclosure that features 26 sliding glass doors around the perimeter and seating for hundreds. Picnic tables are also sprawled out across the property. And behind the main barn is the circular music stage—circular because it was built atop the foundation of a silo.
And within viewing distance of that stage is the property’s original farmhouse, built in 1838 and renovated by Akkad and his team to become a fully functional event space. Akkad said that while the house could be used for wedding parties and as a greenroom for his musical performers, he’s not renting it out overnight just yet.
Flying Ace isn’t just a place for craft beverage enthusiasts to hang out. It’s also land where an historic ingredient is being grown. Akkad is growing 30 acres of Bloody Butcher heirloom corn, which was developed in Virginia in the early 1800s but has since all but died out. Akkad is attempting to bring the burgundy colored corn back. At Flying Ace, guests can taste the corn in every drink and in much of the food.
Behind the entire operation is the theme of American military aviation. The brewery/distillery’s name comes from the American flying aces: military fighter pilots credited with shooting down at least five enemy aircraft in aerial combat. They include Akkad’s grandfather, who was one of only a handful of American aviators to earn the flying ace distinction in two U.S. wars, World War II and the Korean War.
To commemorate those pilots, Flying Ace features aviation themes around the property and on its beer labels. Perhaps most noticeable is the half-scale model of the U.S. Navy’s iconic gull-winged World War II fighter, the F4U Corsair, which is situated above the distillery bar. Akkad said the aircraft, which is the body of the fighter that was produced in 1991 specifically for air shows, weighs about 600 pounds.
Flying Ace is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday and is located at 40950 Flying Ace Lane, Lovettsville. Learn more at flyingacefarm.com.