If you live under a rock, are new to the area, and/or new to craft beer, wine, or cider in Loudoun perhaps then you can be forgiven for not having heard of Corcoran. The Corcoran family began by opening Loundoun County’s 11th vineyard to the public in 2004 and the beer followed 7 years later.
According to brewmaster Kevin Bills, Corcoran began brewing beer on a 1/2 barrel system in 2011 at Corcoran Vineyards. After success onsite in the vineyard “Barn” created a need for greater capacity, Corcoran looked for a new home in Purcellville. When I asked how they settled on an office building next door to an urgent care facility, Kevin answered with a question “Where should a brewery be?”. He continued on, telling me that they investigated several locations but ultimately decided on the location at Hurst and Maple Rd because it had the right space and accessibility for the right price. Adding “Beer lovers are used to going to industrial parks to find great beer, why wouldn’t they come here?” It appears he was right as they have come en masse. Corcoran is now humming along on a 10 barrel system!
Corcoran Brewery is located at the intersection of Maple and Hurst Rd, adjacent to Rte 7. With its proximity to the Berlin Turnpike exit off the 7, this brewery would likely be a first stop on your Purcellville area beer trail. Located in the back of a mixed-use medical building, Corcoran has repurposed what looks like an old fermenter as a permanent sign. They also place smaller lawn signs near the road on days they are open.
With the benefit of relative privacy in the lower level of their building, Corcoran faces a small park/picnic area on a private offshoot from the W&OD Trail. There is plenty of parking and on a nice night you can catch live entertainment on the expansive outdoor patio area.
The interior decor is in keeping with other area breweries; minimalist in design with a few bar top tables, televisions and a standing bar. Aside from a wall of taps that backs to the walk-in cooler, theres not much that separates the brewing process from the customers. This can be good for those that value being immersed in the experience. Additionally visitors can buy growlers, t-shirts and other branded merchandise to the left of the bar.
Waiting for a chance to order a flight of 5 to sample, the standing bar is elbow to elbow with eager beer lovers. Corcoran has 12 beers on tap so I have to choose wisely. Thankfully Trevor the bartender is there to help me sort through the options.
Limited to 5 for the flight tasting I had to include the well recommended LoCo as IPAs are my favorite. LoCo is one of the best IPAs I’ve had in Virginia, it has the right amount of hops and an even medium flavor throughout. One of the marks of a well crafted IPA is when the beer brings your attention to the complexity of the flavor so completely that your surprised to see what the ABV is. LoCo drinks like a 5 ABV but its actually a 7.2! I requested recommendations from Trevor for the four remaining beers and they were all excellent. The Corktoberfest was a balanced Märzen-style beer with a great finish. Comonwealth was light and drinkable like something you would have on the patio on a summer evening. The Newton Alt is an excellent brown ale with noticeable chocolate notes! The surprise of the bunch for me was Hops the Bunny, a “hoppy” brew with an even finish, I definitely recommend giving this IPA a try when you visit.
Corcoran is proving to be a well established and respected entity. With Corcoran Vineyards, Brewery and new Cidery one thing is for certain, Corcoran is established and ripe for growth. No Loudoun County tour would be complete without a visit.
Currently on Tap (As of 9/25/2014)
Commonwealth – Kolsch-style Ale ($4.25/ $5.50 / $8.50 / $15) 5.4% ABV, 22 IBU, 3.9 SRM A very light golden ale originating from cologne, Germany. Very light hop flavor, considered the “lager of ales” because it is aged at cold temperatures much like a lager. Hops: Hallenauer, Saaz Berlin
Berlin Turnpike Lager – German Pilsner ($4.50 / $5.7~ / $9/ $16.50) 5% A.B V,I 33 IBU, 3.2 SRM Probably the most basic, yet complex, beer we brew. A single malt (German pilsner malt) and German Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops create this light gold, crisp lager.
Waterford Wit – Belgian Wit / White ($4.25/ $5.50 / $8.50 / $15) 5.5% ABV, 12 IBU, 3.6 SRM – Another refreshing summer beer. Cloudy beer brewed with wheat, as well as herbal flavors of coriander and orange peel. Hops: Hallenauer
Dutchman’s Creek – German Wheat / Hefeweizen ($4.25/ $5.50 / $8.50/ $15) 4.5% ABV,12 IBU, 3 SRM A traditional German Hefeweizen, light in color, made from a 50/50 split of wheat and pilsner, with a yeast strain that lends a mild flavor of banana and clove. Hops: Hallenauer
Corktoberfest – Oktoberfest / Marzen 5.5% ABV, 24 IBU, 7SRM ($4.50 / $5.75/ $9/ $16.50) Traditional fall German fest beer with a deep malt character and a dry finish. Available: late September Hops: Hallenauer
IPL – Indian Pale Lager ($4.75/ $6/ $8.75/ $16.50) 4.7% ABV, 68 IBU, 6 SRM – Similar to an India Pale Ale, but brewed at colder temperatures and aged as a lager. Has a strong citrus hop flavor. Hops: Galena, Hallenauer, Falconer’s Flight
Catoctin Ale – English Pale Ale ($4.25/ $5.50/ $8.50/ $15) 5.5% ABV, 38 IBU, 14 SRM More amber and less “hoppy” than its American counterpart, plenty of crystal malts, and an English yeast strain create a well balanced, slightly dry, finish for this English style pale. Hops: Nonhern Brewer, Nonhdawn, East Kent Goldings
P’ville Pale – American Pale Ale ($4.75/ $6/ $8.75/ $16.50) 5.4% AB\/, 37 IBU, 5SRM Golden ale moderately hopped with a blend of American hop varieties. Hops: Chinook, Cascade
LoCo – American Style India Pale Ale ($4.75/ $6/ $8.75/ $16.50) 7.2% ABV, 68 IBU, 6 SRM – West coast style IPA, medium bodied with lots of America hop flavor. Hops: Summit, Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Zythos, Falconer’s Flight
Hops the Bunny (RIP) – India Pale Ale ($4.75/ $6/ $8:75/ $16.50) 6.0% ABV, 67 IBU , 13 SRM “Hops” was a little bunny that set up home under a neighbors shed, and in various spots outside the old barn brewery. We named our Amber American IPA in honor of Hops. Hops: Columbus, Cascade, Zythos
Jeb Stuart Stout – Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels ($5/ $6.25/ $8.75/ $16.5) 9% ABV, 57 IBU, 35 SRM A nice strong, yet still light bodied stout, aged in Bowman Distilling Bourbon barrels. History lesson: Jeb Stuart was a General in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. While very successful in many local battles, he Is also partly blamed for the loss at Gettysburg. Hops: Target, Nugget, East Kent Golding.
Newton Alt – Düsseldorf Altbier ($5/ $6.25/ $8.75/ $16.5) 5.5% ABV, 36 IBU, 13 SRM A clean, crisp brown ale with just a hint of chocolate flavor. Alt is German for “old” and we named the beer “Newtown” after the old name for nearby Lovettsville, aka “The German Settlement.” Hops: Hallertauer
Other Beers Offered During The Year
Corky’s Irish Red – Irish Red Ale ($4.25/ $5.50 / $8.50 / $15) 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU, 14 SRM A malty ale brewed with crystal malts and a hint of roasted barley. UK Northdown hops give this ale a bit of the old country.
Emmanubrau (“Beer is with us”) – Christmas Spiced Ale 7.1% ABV,32 IBU, 26 SRM ($4.50/ $5.75/ $9/ $16.50) Freshly roasted malt to remind you of a warm fire, seasonal spices just like grandma baked cookies with, and a hint of spruce for a bit of that Christmas Tree aroma.
Availability: December. Hops: Northern Brewer, Fuggles, Cascade Spices: Ginger, Allspice, Cinnamon, Coriander seed, Orange peel, Spruce
John Champe – English Style Barley Wine ($5.75/ $7.50 ‘ 1$10 / $18) 9.7% ABV, 60 IBU, 9 SRM John Champe, born in Aldie, VA was commissioned by George Washington to capture Benedict Arnold yet only George Washington knew of his double agent status. If captured by the Patriots, he would be punished as a traitor. If discovered by the British, then death would be certain. This beer is an American brewer’s homage to the patriotism and bravery of this fine Virginian pretending to be British. Availability:winter to early spring
Hops: Target, Northdown East Kent Golding, Fuggle.
Mosby’s Raider IPA – Imperial India Pale Ale (aka, Double IPA) ($5.25/ $6.50 / $9/ $17) 9.2% ABV,91 IBU, 11.2 SRM Named after John Mosby, the “Gray Ghost”, whose raiders eluded the Union Army in this area. Plenty of hop flavor cutting through the malty flavor of this brew. Hops: Columbus, Cascade, Centennial,
Zythos Newtown Alt – Dusseldorf Altbier ($4.25/ $5.50 / $8.50 I $15) 5.5% ABV, 36 IBU, 13 SRM A clean, crisp brown ale with just a hint of chocolate flavor. Alt is German for “old” and we named the beer “Newtown” after the old name for nearby Lovettsville, aka “The German Settlement.” Hops: Hallertauer
Oatlands – Oatmeal Ginger Stout ($4.75/ $6/ $8.75/ $16.50) 6% ABV, 33.6 IBU, 39 SRM A stout with more body from the flaked oatmeal, and the added flavor of fresh ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Hops: Target,
East Kent Golding OnceYouGo – Black India Pale Ale ($4.75/ $6/ $8.75/ $16: 50) 8% ABV, 61 IBU, 37 SRM A much darker IPA (aka “Cascadian Ale,” or “American Style Black Ale”). The hop flavor really cuts through the sweetness of the dark roasted malts. Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Northern Brewer, Fuggles, East Kent
Golding Padawan Pumpkin – Seasonal Spiced Ale ($5/ $6.25/ $8.75/ $16.50) 6% ABV, 15.3 IBU, 14.2 SRM – In the Jedi religion, a “Padawan” is a pupil who is being trained by a Jedi Knight. Our brewer’s padawan, aka his then five year old son, helped him grow the first pumpkins and crush the grain for the first version of this recipe. We use copious amounts of long neck pumpkins from Great Country Farms (Bluemont, VA), honey from Hamilton, and pumpkin pie spices to create this seasonal favorite. Availability: Fall. Hops: Northern Brewer, Hallertauer
Paeonian Porter – Vanilla-Chocolate Porter ($5 / $6.25/ $9.5/ $17) 6.6% ABV,31 IBU, 40.8 SRM Compared to a stout, the porter has less roasted notes due to a lack of roasted barley. This porter is full of complex flavors from chocolate and black malts, and completed with cocoa and fresh vanilla beans. Hops: Northern Brewer, Fuggles
Round Hill Boot Ale – Ale spiced with natural roots ($5/ $6.25/ $9.50 / $17) 8% ABV 7 1BU 11 SRM This is no soft drink for children! Ale brewed with malt, honey from Hamilton, cane sugar, very lightly hopped, and spiced With roots wintergreen leaves, vanilla beans.Availability: late summer until it runs out. Hops: Nugget, Liberty Roots: Sarsaparilla, licorice, yucca, ginger
Slainte Stout (“Slawn-cha” – Gaelic for “cheers”) ($4.25/ $5.50/ $8.50/ $15) 4.5% ABV, 34 IBU, 33 SRM Less heavy than your typical stout, with a smooth chocolate finish. Non stout drinkers will be pleasantly surprised with this ale. Hops: Target, East Kent Goldings