Visit Loudoun strives to bring tourists to the county, but locals can be tourists, too. In this monthly series we ask Loudoun residents to tell us about the joys, secrets and delights found in their own back yard. Discover something new and share your local adventure with Visit Loudoun using #loveloudoun
Dutch-born microbiologist Jasper Akerboom moved to Loudoun in 2007 to work at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus on calcium indicators to measure brain activity. His first love, however, was beer. In 2013, he left his job to found Jasper Yeast, a Sterling-based consultancy that advises local breweries on yeast strains and fermentation.He is widely known as “The Beer Scientist”.
Favorite place to eat in Loudoun
There are so many! I love Melt; I have a weak spot for gravy on fries (poutine) and they serve excellent burgers. Mona Lebanese Cafe in Sterling is really good – like walking into someone’s home. For a quick sandwich or weekend brunch, South Street Under.
Favorite place for craft beverage
In Leesburg, Dynasty Brewing makes really good lagers and West Coast style IPAs. Bear Chase really nails their beers, and the views are beautiful. Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery makes the best saisons this side of the world and use estate-grown grain in most of their beers. Vanish makes excellent contemporary beers and their rice lager is world class. The IPAs at Ocelot are just unbelievably good. There are so many other breweries —the quality of craft beer in Loudoun is really high.
Best hidden gem in Loudoun
I like to take my daughters hiking at Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg. It’s a small nature reserve that offers everything: old forest with majestic oaks, a meadow, a pond brimming with wildlife, fantastic birding.
Loudoun must-see for an out-of-town visitor
Downtown Leesburg. There are so many fun little restaurants, bars and shops. It’s especially great on weekends when they block the streets off for pedestrians. We like to walk around and get ice cream in the evening. The antique stores in Luckett’s are definitely worth a visit for cool finds, too.
Favorite event to go to in Loudoun
The Rummage Sale put on by the Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital. I really like finding those deals. TASTE Leesburg, and the Leesburg Airshow are also two extremely fun events. The airshow is a great, intimate experience and you can get really close to the planes. You can even board some of them.
Fun, little known fact to share about Loudoun
President James Monroe used to own land in Loudoun and grew oats, wheat and rye just south of Leesburg. It’s unknown whether any of those grains were used in beer!
Most interesting place you have sourced a yeast strain for a beer
From the protocetid whale bone that was on display in the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland. My friend Jason Osborne, who then worked at Janelia, used to dive in the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and find these amazing skeletons. We isolated a yeast strain (most likely originating from the swamp) and made a great beer together—Bone Dusters Paleo Ale—at Lost Rhino Brewing Company. We also isolated yeast from a wooden barrel used by the Washington Brewing Company in the 1890s.