The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Microbreweries











Virginia Beach








Big Lick Brewing Company
409 Salem Ave SW
Roanoke, VA 24016
(540) 562-8383

Big Lick Brewing Company is a microbrewery located in downtown Roanoke.
At any given time, Big Lick will have 12 "big batch" brews on tap coming from their 15-bbl. state-of-the-art system.
You can also order drafts from their "small batch" or experimental 2-bbl. system.
As far as personal preference, the Scattered Kindness Pale Ale was the winner over the amazingly-named Paddy O'Furniture Stout.
The venue is spacious, having lots of room for drinking and socializing both in the tap room, and on the patio outside.
If consuming craft beer gives you an appetite, you can order food from Beamer's 25, a neighborhood restaurant and bar, or Tuco's Taqueria, and have it delivered.
If a Questor can't consume his fill at the tap room, beer is available to go in cans, crowlers, or growlers.
Big Lick Brewing means excellent beer and fine bluegrass in Roanoke.





Forge Brew Works
8532 Terminal Rd
Lorton, VA 22079
(703) 372-2979

If you make the ride to Forge Brew Works in the trunk of the car I do not think you will be the first to do so in this area.
You may, however, be the first to live to talk about it. This place is in Lorton's tank farm at the end of an industrial building. I missed it the first time. If you did not have the sense to drive behind the building you would not have seen the entrance.
I was too scared to do that on my own.

Once you find the place, however, you will be treated to a pleasant tap room for a nice brewery few people know anything about.
The bottoms of the walls are corrugated steel paneled, the rest of what amounts to three stories of height comprises cinder block.
The industrial ceiling has a gigantic fan with a boatload of blades.
The seating consists of a couple of beerhall tables and a handful of barrel tables with high chairs.

Four years old when we visited, Forge was just getting ready to begin bottling that week. When we visited it Forge beer was available at the taproom, one hotel, and one restaurant.
You probably ain't heard of it.

The beers sold for $2.50 a taste (small snifter), $6 a pour (14 oz snifter), and then growlers and such.
Plan on no food.
Forge does sell something called popcorn for $.75 but it was not recognizable as popcorn.
Let's talk beer.
They had a dozen of their beers on tap on our visit and I could have repeated any of the four I had.

Sitobine was a saison and a good first choice.
Billed as a German beer the Empress was a 9.2 ABV black pilsener and I do not believe I have ever had a black pilsenser before. I'd be happier if they called it a Schwarzbier, but whatever they call it, it is a nice smooth creep-up-on-you kinda beer.
Brown Dwarf Star at 11.5% is their big beer and it is a respectable American quad. It aspires to the Belgian style but like many American-made Belgians it misses the Belgian bar.
Because I was driving, I had one more big beer for the road; you have to fortify yourself for a seven hour drive. This was an 8.2% German Kelsenator, a doppelbock that held my interest but may not have leapt the German bar.
My companions stayed at the lighter end of the scale and all presented well.

When I was ready for the men's room I expected to be handed a jar when I asked for the facility.
But, much to my surprise, there it stood in the middle of the taproom.
Note to self, drink lower ABV beers.




Vanish Farmwoods Brewery
42264 Leelynn Farm Ln
Lucketts , Virginia 20176
Phone: 703-779-7407

Located in the town of Lucketts, about 15 minutes north of Leesburg,
Vanish Farmwoods Brewery was a pleasant surprise when we dropped in on a Friday afternoon in mid-August.
Vanish has an enormous taproom situated right in the brewery, in a building both cavernous and sprawling.
The long and winding bar seats at least 20 patrons, and more than 15 picnic-style tables can handle many, many more.
Vanish will usually have 13 or so of their beers on tap at any given time, but they are working on being able to fill all 20 of their tap lines.
Beer can be ordered by the pint or growler.
Flights come in either a 6- or 12-beer size.
I found their IPL to be grainy, crisp, and very easy to drink.
Vanish hosts Vanish Lab on the weekends, where thirsty patrons are offered craft beer cocktails made from beer and fruit juices.
Vanish uses a 10-bbl., 20 vessel brewing system with plans for growth, as they propose to bottle in the near future.

As far as eats go, Vanish has a food truck on the weekend, and always has snack food on hand.





Old 690 Brewing Company
15670 Ashbury Church Rd.
Purcellville , VA 20132
(540) 668-7023

The Old 690 Brewery was one of the first farm breweries in the state of Virginia .
According to their mission statement, Old 690's goal is to brew and serve a unique yet balanced variety of fresh craft beers including several seasonal ales that utilize crops grown on the 10 acre property.
Old 690 is located just north of Purcellville which is just west of Leesburg, in Virginia 's beer-friendly Loudon County .
In their spacious tasting room, Old 690 has about 9 beers on tap, and dispenses said beer in flights, pints, and growlers.
Old 690's popularity is evidenced by the crowd that was on hand during our visit on a Saturday could barely make one's way to the bar!
Guests are invited to bring their own food.
A food truck may also be available.




Belly Love Brewing Company
725 E Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132
(540) 441-3159

Belly Love is located in a retail center downtown in the microbrewery mecca of Purcellville, VA.
To quote from Belly Love's mission statement,
"With unwavering attention to detail, batch consistency, and stylistic integrity, every beer is hand crafted from the finest ingredients available."
A large sign on the wall professes their philosophy more concisely..."Beer is Liquid Soul Food."
All the beers that are brewed here with Belly Love's 7-bbl system are created to be sold at this outlet.
A thirsty patron can purchase a pint, try a flight if undecided, or fill a growler.
There were seven Belly Love beers on tap at the time of our visit...including a Helles, Saison, Pale Ale, and Belgian Strong.
I only had time for one pint, the Helles, and I found it outstanding.
The spacious tap room seats about 40 people at tables and in upholstered couches.
Belly Love also offers outdoor seating on a small patio.
Outside guests will not be bothered by cars, as Belly Love sits in a pedestrian-only shopping area.
When you get hungry, you can order from a menu of snacks and sandwiches such as burgers, tacos, wings, and a favorite of mine, Scotch eggs...all provided by a local caterer.
Courtney, our barkeeper, was hopspitable and helpful in learning about the beers and answering our questions in general.
Belly Love is a fun and rewarding stop on a Questor's tour of Purcellville's microbrewery scene.




Corcoran Brewing Company/
B Chord Brewing

205 E Hirst Rd
Purcellville, VA 20132
(540) 441-3102

Corcoran Brewing Company originally opened in 2011 in Waterford, VA, where the family was already operating a winery.
As the demand for beer grew, the Corcoran Family moved the brewing operation to Purcellville, six miles from the original location.
Corcoran brews both traditional styles and experimental beers.
At the time of our visit, they had 16 different beers on tap.
I had a pint of Catoctin Ale, an English-style pale ale, at 5.5% and 35 IBU's.
I don't may have been the friendly ambience of the tap room, the knowledge and professionalism of my barkeep, or the balminess of a warm summer's day...but this beer was one of the best that I have ever documented.
The taproom offered about 7 tables, a couch, and a foosball table.
There was also plenty of room for moving around and mingling if things got crowded.
Beer was sold by the pint or in flights of five.
Growlers could be filled, and beer could also be taken home in 22-ounce bombers.
Trivia Night, live music, a mug club, and a weekend food truck add to the many things that make Corcoran a great place to visit, and a must stop on Purcellville's brew trail.

In 2017, Corcoran merged with B Chord Brewing Company.
We will leave this write-up in place until we revisit the brewery.




Adroit Theory
Brewing Company

404 Browning Court, Unit C Purcellville, VA 20132
(703) 722-3144

Adroit Theory Brewing Company is a nano-brewery located in Purcellville, VA, a little north of the town's Main Street.
Adroit Theory describes its products as "esoteric beers with an emphasis on barrel aging."
In the tasting room, beers are dispensed in Tastes (3 ounces) or Tulips (10 ounces).
They ain't cheap.
Tastes run from $3.00 to $4.50 and Tulips from $8.00 to $9.50.
Flights are not sold, but growlers can be filled.
A Questor may also take home a variety of Adroit Theory's beers in 375-mL bottles.
These ain't cheap either.
Tasters may sit at the spacious bar, stroll around the tasting room, or relax on the small beer patio out back.
I have consumed Adroit Theory beers at several venues in Loudon County, and find them all to be well-crafted, different, and delicious.
Food-wise, the brewery offers pre-packaged sandwiches and nuts.
At busier times, there may be a food truck present, but at any time, a guest may bring in food or have it delivered.
Adroit Theory is an important stop on Purcellville's craft beer tour.





Bike TrAle Brewing Company
101 Loudoun Street Southeast Leesburg, VA 20175
(571) 293-0050

Bike TrAle Brewing Company is a microbrewery located in downtown historic Leesburg, withing walking distance of 4 or 5 other breweries and several very good beer bars.
The venue is located in what must have been a residence in an earlier time. The small tap room was packed on a beautiful warm April evening with people talking and drinking with their friends.
Bike TrAle had 12 of their beers on tap during our visit; an IPA, a hefeweizen, a couple of Belgians, and others.
My choice was the Gold Velvet, a 7% pilsner that was outstanding.
The crowd was upscale, professional, and reminded me of Annapolis without the boats.
Everyone seemed to know one another, and was having fun.
You can't get Bike TrAle beer anyplace other than here, brewed fresh from their 4-bbl. system.
The outdoor courtyard was also full of guests enjoying the live music.




Black Walnut Brewery
210 S King St.
Leesburg, VA 20175
(703) 771-9474

I must open by saying that Black Walnut Brewing in Leesburg is one of the most friendly, good-times, dog-loving microbreweries we have ever visited.
The brewery sits on a formerly-residential property on South King Street in an old house in historic Leesburg.
The indoor tap room is located in a mustard-yellow house that you can't miss.
The bar seats about 10 folks, with some additional sitting and standing room.
In addition to the tap room, there is a large covered deck to the rear.
We arrived on a warm summer evening; think Tiki Bar...but without the flames, palms, and rum drinks with tiny umbrellas.
Just good beer.
The crowd consisted of those who appeared to be locals of all ages, and fairly filled the tented outdoor deck.
The bar, too, was outdoors, and was pouring at least six Black Walnut beers, including cream ale, pale ale, IPA, red, hefeweizen and an experimental IPA.
All the action, both human and canine, was on the outside.
Picnic tables on the deck sat about 40 revelers, and there was another area with lawn chairs and benchs.
There was also a long beer shelf for standing and sipping.
Elaine, our barkeep, was friendly and helpful with info about the beer and brewery.
The 1-bbl. brewing system provides just enough beer for the tap room, so to imbibe some Black Walnut beer, you have to visit.
And visit you should.




Black Hoof Brewing Company
11 S King St.
Leesburg, VA 20175
(571) 707-8014

Black Hoof Brewing is a microbrewery located on King Street in the heart of historic downtown Leesburg.
The Hoof's tap room is the size of your average barroom, and seats 25-30 patrons at tables.
Both of our bartenders were gregarious and helpful with any questions we had.

The 3-bbl. brew works were visible through a passageway toward the rear of the bar.
Black Hoof sells their beers in pints, flights, and take-home growlers.
I purchased a Falcon's Day IPA, which was true-to-style and a near-perfect IPA. It was also sold in a 20-oz. imperial pint glass which was a plus.
They also offered a
Kölsch, hefeweizen, and a few others.
If you desire a Black Hoof beer, you have to get it right here in the tap room; they do not as yet distribute.
But that is not a bad thing...Black Hoof is a comfortable and attractive place in which to enjoy great craft beer.




Barnhouse Brewing Company
43271 Spinks Ferry Rd Leesburg, VA 20176
(703) 675-8480

Barnhouse Brewing Company is a farm brewery located 15 minutes northeast of downtown Leesburg in the beer hotbed of Loudon County.
Barnhouse had 11 different beers on tap at the time of our visit, including a Kölsch, IPA, Scottish ale, hefeweizen, tripel, rauchbier, and others.
Beer is sold in pints, flights, or growlers to go.
I was delighted to find the rauchbier very smoky, much more so that your usual American effort.
Christine, one of the proprietors, was glad to answer our questions, and extol the virtues of the brewing revolution in Loudon County.
Barnhouse's tap room is paneled in knotty pine, is airy and spacious, and has a welcoming feel.
Glass-topped keg tables seat 24 patrons, and there is room for about 15 more at shelves.
There is still space left over for milling around.
Barnhouse usually has a food vendor operating on weekends, thus we were able to fortify ourselves with a delectable chicken and sausage paella.
The 7.5-bbl. brewing system is visible off the tap room.
You can get Barnhouse beer here at the brewery, or at a number of local establishments on tap.




Loudon Brewing Company
310 East Market Street
Leesburg , VA 20176


Loudon Brewing Company is a nanobrewery and an important addition to Leesburg's brewery scene.
Loudon BC is located in a stand-alone house, just a stones throw east of historic downtown.
Shawn, our barkeep, was welcoming and informative, despite the fact that he was pouring beers at a breakneck pace for the lively crowd on a Thursday summer's evening.
The taproom, which has a cottage-like feel, seats about 20, and there is standing room also.
The atmosphere was vibrant, and the crowd was busy ordering pints, flights, and growlers to aid in their socialization.
Loudon BC had 5 beers on tap at the time of our visit, and we were told that they may have anywhere from 4-10 at any given time.
Loudon is not a production brewery, and their 1.5-bbl system produces beer to be consumed in this taproom only.
Upstairs is an attic-like room with upholstered chairs for relaxing with your beer...there is a TV and a chalkboard for entertainment.
Although the taproom is comfortable and relaxing, it is clear that you are in a working brewery, with fermenters, bright tanks, and bubbling airlocks clearly visible.
Every town ought to have a venue such as Loudon Brewing Company.



Crooked Run Brewing
205 Harrison St SE
Leesburg , VA 20175-3702
phone: (703) 609-9241

You won't spot Crooked Run from Harrison Street.
This "farmhouse nano brewery" is located in Leesburg's Market Station in the famous Beermuda Triangle.
If you're facing Tuscarora Mill, go left and around to the back.
Crooked Run has a small, cozy tasting room with space for about 6 guests at the bar and two picnic tables.
A couple of small tables are also located outside on the deck.
About 4 different beers are usually on tap, brewed in the 1.5 bbl system located just several yards away.
The atmosphere was gregarious, with Steve, the barkeep, and the other patrons eager to talk about Crooked Runs variety of over 20 brews.
Jake Andres, founder of Crooked Run, describes his beer as "special American and Belgian ales" many of which are made with locally-grown ingredients.
Aside from offering pints of their creations, Crooked Run sells flights, and fills growlers.



Center of the Universe Brewing Company
11293 Air Park Rd.
Ashland, VA 23005

Center of the Universe, or COTU as it is known, is a microbrewery in Ashland, Virginia, about 20 minutes north of Richmond.
The name of the brewery is explained in their mission statement:

"COTU wants to be a company that truly embraces the local community. 'Center of the Universe,' to COTU, is taking pride in where you live and respecting the people with whom you interact."

The proprietors of COTU, are ex-major league pitcher Chris Ray and his brother Phil, who started out as home brewers back in 2009.
Their 15-bbl brewery has a spacious tasting room where pints are sold, growlers are filled, and six-packs can be taken home.
It looks like a great place to gather with your friends, drink fresh crafted beer, and obtain a meal from the food truck that is often available.
COTU is just a few minutes off of I-95, and a great place to stop if you are enjoying the burgeoning beer scene in the greater Richmond area.



Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
2408 Ownby Lane
Richmond, VA 23220

Hardywood Park is a microbrewery that occupies two buildings between The Fan and Diamond districts in Richmond.
Don't look for a district named Hardywood Park. The brewery's name comes from the name of the sheep station in Australia where the brewery's founders first discovered hand-crafted beer.
Hardywood's spacious tasting room is open 4 nights a week, and is known to host a food court and farmers' market on Wednesday.
The tasting room offers a large standing bar, some tables, and plenty of room to drink and mingle.
Hardywood brews a number of different beers, and offers them on tap and in 750 mL bottles.
Growlers are also filled.
Each beer recipe is perfected on a 20-gallon pilot brewery before graduating to a custom built, 20-barrel Newlands brewhouse.
99% of the brewery's electricity comes from windpower.



Strangeways Brewing
2277A Dabney Road
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 303-4336

Strangeways Brewing is a microbrewery located in an industrial park in Richmond, VA.
The tasting room is colorful, and the bartenders were busy giving samples, selling pints, and filling growlers.
Upon our visit there were 5 beers on tap...4 flagship beers and one seasonal.
The tasting room features a stand-up bar with plenty of tables and stools, and plenty of standing room.
The crowd was predominantly young, and drinkers could patronize the food truck parked outside.
Our barkeep, Cheyenne, was extremely helpful in explaining about the brewery and their 20-bbl system.
Strangeways is just plain fun, as it features plenty of people talking with one another and drinking fresh craft beer.
Strangeways also has a location in Frredericksburg.





Pleasure House Brewing
3025 Shore Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23451 (757) 496-0916

Pleasure House Brewing is a micro brewery far from the tourist area of VA Beach.
The building appears to be a repurposed convenience store, so you can picture it's size.
The bar on the right side of the room seats about a dozen, and there are several tables scattered about. The brewing operation is not in sight.
Pleasure House has 11 beers on tap, each a different style.
At any given time, expect to find both flagship and experimental beers on tap.
Activities include darts, Foosball, talking with friends, and of course, drinking beer.
All we tasted were very good.
No food is served, but the Chinese restaurant next door delivers.




Young Veterans Brewing Company
2505 Horse Pasture Rd #104
Virginia Beach, VA 23453
(757) 689-4021

The Young Veterans Brewing Company is a new microbrewery in the same industrial complex as the Beach Brewing Company, also on this page.
In their mission statement, Young Veterans says, "For us, the answer is simple:
We love beer . We love to brew it;
we love to drink it, we love to teach others about it."

Ahhh... so many beers, so little time.
Anyway, the tasting room is typical of a small micro brewery. The front room is as large as a large living room and seats about 20 on mis-matched furniture.
The service area is in an alcove off the hall that leads to the brewing operation. The bar there seats 3.
We noted that the beers were of a hoppy nature.
The barmaid seemed a bit disappointed when she said, "that's what they like." Young Vets has a hefeweizen, porter, pale ale and three IPA's on tap.
All were very good.
Being so close to the other brewery, one can easily compare and contrast.



Reaver Beach Brewing Company
1505 Taylor Farm Rd
Virginia Beach, VA 23453
(757) 563-2337

The Reaver Beach Brewing Company is a microbrewery well off the beaten path in an industrial complex in Virginia Beach, VA.
The tasting room is open most afternoons and evenings.
The tasting room is large, with a large bar that seats about 15 drinkers.
Plenty of room is available for standing around. Besides pints of all their products, they do a good walk-in business with growlers and kegs.
The prices are good and there is no limit; it's a convenient place to get all of the Beach Brewing products.
This is the same brewery that used to be known as simply Beach Brewing Company.



Alewerks Brewing Company
189-B Ewell Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188
(757) 220-3670

While in Williamsburg I went to the
Alewerks store, at the brewery.
This is a microbrewery, not a brew pub. It's only several blocks from the outlet mall.
No bigger than your garage, they have beer and paraphanalia for sale. For $3.00, one can get a 4oz sample of each of the 5 beers currently available. On Saturday, one can pay $6.00 and also take the tour.
This brewery used to be known as Williamsburg AleWerks.





"They who drink beer will think beer ." ....Washington Irving