Bites: Wild Hare Cider moves to downtown Leesburg

Owner and serial entrepreneur Jay Clement is already starting on his next project.

Photo courtesy of Wild Hare Cider
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In some ways Jay Clement knows exactly what he wants to do.

He likes physical work. He likes the food and drink industry. He likes experimenting with fermentation. He likes, as he says, “process-oriented work.”

In some ways Jay Clement has no idea what he wants to do.

He’s worked in construction and political fundraising. He ran a catering company featuring fermented sourdough, wood-fired pizza. He home-brewed, but he says he “sold all of my brewing equipment when my wife and I had kids because we needed the closet space.”

He started, and sold, a bean-to-bar chocolate company. “When I was in my teens,” he says, “I had 25 part-time jobs. I can never stay at a job.”

Photo courtesy of Wild Hare Cider

Over the past two years, Clement stayed put. Well, stayed with the same company, but not in the same location. Wild Hare Cider, which Clement started with his wife in the summer of 2015, moved to downtown Leesburg from Bluemont six weeks ago.

Wild Hare’s new space, in the same complex as Tuscarora Mill and Crooked Run Brewing, features two taps—though soon to be six—in a 650-square-foot room, with another 500 square feet outside.

The cider line up, for now, will stay the same, though a Spanish-style sidra, an Arkansas Black single-varietal cider and a scotch barrel-aged cider is en route—the latter slated for a cigar-themed release party.

And that, says Clement, will be the focus of the move: events. Taking advantage of Leesburg’s booming food and drink scene, and growing community in general, Clement sees Wild Hare hosting charity fundraising events, and more specifically: a chocolate tasting, oyster night, an open mic Moth-like storytelling night, cheese pairings and a scavenger hunt around town.

Clement plays many roles in his small company—marketing, social media, production, sales, tasting room host—and while that keeps him active, he’s already started his next venture.

In Berryville, where the cider production takes place, he’s carved out space for Saltlick Forge. He bought a 156-pound, circa 1880 Peter Wright anvil and will learn blacksmithing to make kitchen knives (and oyster shuckers, camping knives and hatchets).

“All these things that I do are huge learning-curve projects,” says Clement. “I’m trying to find that medium that captivates my attention for longer than a year.” // Wild Hare Cider: 106 South St. SE, Leesburg