LoCo Hangar Fest celebrates local ales in a lofty location

It’s a different kind of beer flight on Nov. 11.

loco hanger fest
Photo courtesy of ProJet Aviation

Inside a private airport hangar—essentially a massive garage with a handful of sleek piston and turbine aircraft eagerly awaiting their departure—the mood is one of anticipation. Julie O’Brien of ProJet Aviation pulls open a wall-sized rolling door, revealing a spectacular view of open sky and Loudoun County foliage.

On Nov. 11 the Loudoun County Brewers Association, in partnership with Visit Loudoun, will host LoCo Hangar Fest, a chance to sample nearly 50 concoctions from 18 local breweries while taking in the tableau from the ProJet Aviation hangar in Leesburg.

“Loudoun County really has positioned itself as a destination for brewery enthusiasts,” says Jackie Saunders, vice president of marketing with Visit Loudoun, who traces the county’s modern brewing history to the 1989 opening of Old Dominion Brewing (now owned by Delaware-based Fordham and Dominion). The microbrew scene is now overflowing with 23 breweries, a roughly 600 percent increase from the three or four breweries the county hosted four years ago, Saunders says.

A $35 ticket ($40 at the door) to the event gets you unlimited pours of favorite brews and new releases from each table, served in a commemorative glass. Patrons at either of two sessions, noon-3 p.m. or 4-7 p.m., can also nibble on morsels from BlackFinn Ameripub, Churrology and Popcorn Monkey while watching small planes depart and land merely yards away.

In addition to winter seasonals, one exclusive brew, the Wholehearted Stout, will be available in exchange for a donation that benefits the Wholehearted Foundation, a Leesburg charity supporting children who need cardiac care.

Chris Burns, founder of Old Ox Brewing and chairman of the Loudoun County Brewers Association, which formed early this year, values collaboration among the nearly two dozen breweries now dotting the Loudoun landscape.

“We have a list of goals for the association, one of which is to represent brewers’ interests with local governments and then to really help promote the high-quality beer throughout Loudoun County, to nurture that quality program and to help Loudoun County breweries learn from each other,” Burns says.

Burns doesn’t yet know whether the association will be returning to an airport hangar for a future fest, as the group likes to maintain an element of surprise.

“We’re very interested in promoting Loudoun County as a premier beer destination in the United States. One of the ways we can do that is providing unique beer-drinking opportunities, and this certainly qualifies,” Burns says.

(November 2017)

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