Dirt Farm Brewing Bluemont, VA – First visit!

Last Sunday, we piled the family into the SUV and made the short trek out to Bluemont to visit the hidden gem called Dirt Farm Brewing.  I have been planning and anticipating this trip for over a year now.  I can tell you definitively, waiting that long was a huge mistake.  Dirt Farm has so much to offer (we will get into those details below) and the beer is well worth the short drive from Leesburg or anywhere else for that matter.

Dirt Farm and the family operating it have been in the area, farming the land for over 40 years now.  They own Great Country Farm – those with young kids in the area will recognize this name as it is a fixture on school field trips and kids wish trips all over the county.  They also own Bluemont Vineyard, which is conveniently located next door to the brewery for a quick afternoon double header (just make sure you have the Uber ride home lined up!).

The family combines the “bounty” from the farm to ensure the best quality ingredients are used in the beers that they brew.

Our 3 acre hop yard of Cascade, Chinook, Centenninal, and Nugget is established and about 10 acres of 6 row thoroughbred barley. We continue to plant in effort to produce the best Loudoun VA malt. This past fall we harvested Dirt Farm’s own yeast strain. Beers like Tart 31, Som Peach and our Pumpkin Ale utilize traditional fruit and veggies from our very own, Great Country Farms.

The Dirt Farm founders and team deserve a giant pat on the back.  As their website describes, their founders were instrumental in getting the bills passed in Loudoun County to make the beer opportunities we have now a reality.  I for one am very grateful for the efforts of everyone here in the county to make Loudoun a great beer destination and a wonderful place to live!

Janell Zurschmeide has a lifetime attachment to western Loudoun and a strong adoration for and a good IPA. She helped bring the farm brewery bill, SB430 across the finish line for the Commonwealth as well as Loudoun County’s zoning ordinance to expand farm breweries as a rural use. She Co-Chairs the Farm Brewery Committee for the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild (VCBG) and manages the business. You will find her there unless she is off enjoying life with her husband Bruce and their three children. Bruce Zurschmeide carries his years of farming and wine making expertise down the road to Dirt Farm. His love of terroir and fermentation flows deep here in Bluemont as his creativity continues to get us closer to our plow to pint mission. Bruce oversees the next generation of Zurschmeides putting their stamp on the family farm.

From dirtfarmbrewing.com

Brewers, Wes Schoeb and Nick Zurschmeide have both passed

From dirtfarmbrewing.com

their Brewer’s certification and help drive our newest venture. They embody our motto of “Dirt Don’t Hurt” as they roll up their

sleeves and turn farm fresh grains, hops, fruits and our mountain water into hand crafted brews with true flavor and a sense of place.Their goal is to bring you closer to what our farm family is growing and to this great land where they grew up and still call home. They are using their hands and rapidly growing brewing know-how to create an environment and flavor experience you will want come back for again and again.
— from: http://dirtfarmbrewing.com/about/about-2/

The Place

The location here is amazing and it definitely is part of the experience.

The drive in takes you through the quaint village of Bluemont, over a one lane bridge and onto the dirt road at the entrance of the brewery (what? did you think Dirt Farm would have a paved road??).  the road up to the peak of the mountain is quite steep and a bit of a white knuckle journey but well worth it.

Dirt Farm Views – Photo: Scott Mitchell

I was thankful I had an SUV, but saw a few other cars at the top that made it clear the road is not that bad – a Prius, a Camry and a ’68 or ’69 Mustang, to name a few!  So take a deep breath, push the accelerator, and make you way up the incline!  Your reward – quietly awaits you at the top!

Once you arrive at the top, you are instantly rewarded with what I have to believe is the best brewery view in all of Loudoun, and maybe the country.  You can see for miles towards the East and South, to the Catoctin Mountains and beyond.

The brewery makes the most of these views with a beautiful patio, tables with umbrellas and Adirondack chairs to sit in.  I can tell you there is nothing quite like the experience of sipping a well crafted, cold beer on a beautiful day taking in these views.  I was really blown away!

 

Inside, the tasting room features a wall of french doors looking out onto the same impressive views.  So regardless of the weather outside, you get to experience the tranquility of the Loudoun County valleys and mountains, while enjoying a exceptionally crafted brew!

Inside the Taproom – photo: Scott Mitchell
Taproom views – photo Scott Mitchell

The rest of the tasting room is small, but adequate.  Nice cozy feel with exposed beams, plenty of rustic wood touches and stone walls.  It features nice tables and chairs to sit and relax and take in those views.  There is also a small kitchen with a small but nice menu of items to compliment your brews or pacify your kids or both.  Pretzels, Flatbread Pizzas, Nachos and some BBQ items on

Taproom kitchen area – photo Scott Mitchell

the outside Grill when available.  When we were there, there was an Oyster fest as well and drones of people were enjoying it!  Dirt Farm has many events like this and they are published regularly on their website and facebook sites so you can plan ahead and make the most of your visit.

The Beers

While the views were amazing, they are not worth much if the beer does not stand on its own.  I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed here.  The beer list featured 8 selections on our day, comprising of multiple different varieties and styles to please many different tastes.  While I found it odd that they don’t offer Flights on the weekends, you are able to pick up smaller sampling sizes to essentially build your own flight.

Flight with a view! – photo: Scott Mitchell

I started with the Hefeweizen Wheat Ale, Tart 31 Cherry Ale, Straw Golden Ale, and the newly tapped Milk Stout.  Then moved on to the Scott Brown Ale (an “almost Brown IPA” as the description calls it).

The Hefeweizen is what I expected and a perfect lighter style for a hot day on the patio.  I found it to be smooth and not overly citrus like so many of these can be.  The brewery staff and website mention a “banana” flavor to this, but I found it to be very mild and not anything to worry about if that is not your thing.  Overall a great summery style beer for a hot day.

The Straw Golden Ale is a staple beer of Dirt Farm, and good for what it is – a light, not too hoppy beer that is very drinkable (again on this hot sunny day, a perfect fit).

Tart 31 Cherry Ale is very sour, but not a sour beer.  I saw quantities of it being served and people drinking it all over the patio, so it must be a hit.  It was not my thing, so I passed it along.  I can respect it for what it is, and it does demonstrate the versatility of the brewery and the boundaries it is willing to push.

Lastly on my flight was the Milk Stout, which by the way is a beer style in my wheelhouse.  I found it to be very smooth and creamy with a touch of sweetness that any milk stout fan will enjoy.  This beer checks in at a hefty 7.2% ABV so I went light and no second fills on this trip!  I hope this is only the first batch of this beer, as I look forward to enjoying this over the winter several times.

My next round was the Scott Brown Ale.  I had to try for its name that we conveniently share with each other, and the fact that I really enjoy brown ales.  This Brown Ale is malty as you would expect, but also heavily hopped as it was explained to me.  They mention online and in the tasting room that this is similar

Scott Brown Ale – photo: Scott Mitchell

to a “Brown IPA”.  I found this beer to be exceptional.  Everything I love about deep, rich malty beers combined with an edge that hops provide.  It is crisp while rich.  I can’t say there are many others like this in the area (that I am aware of) and I am happy to report that this is also a “staple beer” here at Dirt Farm, so we can expect it regularly featured in the tasting room.

While the Milk Stout was a serious contender, I opted for the Scott Brown Ale for the Growler Fill -yes, the ManCan is now 128oz full of this exceptional beer.

There are plenty of IPAs on the tap list as well – including a Session IPA, Citrus IPA and the Hop Harvest Pale Ale to please “hoppier” pallets and tastes.

Many of the Staple Beers are available in large cans for takeout.  They also do growler fills and sell growlers for newbies that have not yet invested in one.  On Tuesday’s they offer $10 Growler Fills as well – how about that!

Overall I was pleased with the great selection of styles and the quality of the beer.  It seems fresh and a bit different/unique – Perhaps it was the overall experience of this place, but I think it is more likely the farming traditions, the fresh ingredients, and the adventurous spirit of Dirt Farm Brewing that really sets it apart.  Whatever it is, it works, and it works very well!  I highly encourage everyone to check it out, and do so soon!  I waited too long for my trip…

They welcome children and dogs openly in the outside areas, and there is a giant hill for both to play on.  Several kids participated in a classic game of “roll down the hill” trying to stand up at the bottom to the delight and amusement of the parents on the patio.  After all, the motto here at the brewery is “Dirt Don’t Hurt”! 🙂

The food, while simple is well executed and fast.  Pleasing our “hangry” kids shortly after we arrived.  They took care to meet our allergy questions and provided feedback on ingredients.  The Pretzels and Flatbread Pizzas were a hit in our family.  No root-beer brewed on site for the little ones, but they did have bottled root-beer for them to enjoy.

Dirt Farm is very active on Facebook/social media and regularly posts updates to events, tap list and new offerings.  You can find them here

The Staff

From your first interaction, it is evident that the staff take great pleasure in serving and educating the patrons here. We had a staff member fill us in on the background, the family, the farm and all things Dirt Farm while we were there.  Everyone will stop in their tracks to answer questions and ensure a great guest experience.  They took time to answer my questions about the beer, make recommendations and ensure what we choose fit well with our tastes and expectations.  They have tap stations outside in both the front and back of the building – making refills easy and efficient, and adding to the overall positive experience.  It is evident that the staff and owners take pride in providing an exceptional experience for the patrons.

Summary

Great place with a nice warm atmosphere and views that will inspire and awe you.  Great quality beer crafted from local and onsite produced ingredients with a wide variety of styles to satisfy any discriminating beer lover. As the brewery calls it, the “Plow to Pint” concept is well executed and the friendly staff ensure your visit will be one to remember.  Regular food items and specials from time to time add to the experience and allow for extended stays.   Dirt Farm Brewing is a perfect place on a sunny day to sip a high quality craft beer.  A definite must see in our opinion, and soon to be a frequent stop on our regular rotation (especially while the Milk Stout is still pouring!)

Get out and check them out!

Share any of your own feedback and comments below!  Cheers!
– Scott Mitchell, NovaBeerBlog.com

More Information:
Website:  http://dirtfarmbrewing.com
UNTAPPD Reviews: https://untappd.com/DirtFarmBrewing
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DirtFarmBrew/

Contact:
18701 Foggy Bottom Road
Bluemont, VA 20135
Phone:  (540) 554-2337(BEER)
info@dirtfarmbrewing.com

 

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