This is the third of a series I’m writing about the trip my wife Sarajo (Sj) and I recently took to the D.C. area. I’m going to go day by day and go over our exploits so readers can learn what to do (and not do) in the area if they ever get out there. We were lucky enough to stay with our good friends Kathleen and Shea in Virginia, located right at the end of the Metro line into D.C. Please see the previous installation if you want to be horrified by terrible travel hijinx HERE, and our second day in Virginia HERE.
Or Lets Take The Guy Who’s Afraid of Heights to the Air and Space Museum
With our third day suddenly changing to a bright and perfect springtime morning our group of four set off for the Steven Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, VA. This is the accessory museum to the one on The Mall in D.C. and is quite the huge place! As a photographer I really enjoyed the external angles, glass, and shiny metals of the place and could have spent an hour just wandering around with my camera out…but there were loads of things to look at inside so we headed in. It was pretty dim inside so without ability to use a tripod, I didn’t get much usable material inside the two giant hangers. It was still really cool to see the massive (and some really tiny) aircraft parked, hanging, swooping, all around the gargantuan space.
We were able to go up into the observation tower and observe the land around us–including a good view of incoming planes to the nearby airport. We saw experimental aircraft, WW1-WW2 era planes, stealth bombers, and even the Space Shuttle Discovery! Aeronautical marvels all around! Did I mention I’m afraid of heights? Several floors up you can walk around a large catwalk and see some of the suspended planes from up high. Ulp!
By the time we were done perusing a particular profusion of planes, it was well past time to fill our growling bellies. We all hopped back into the Prius and drove to the small but impressive town of Purcellville as our next destination. The ladies were kind enough to drop Shae and I off at Adroit Theory Brewing while they went off to nearby Monk’s BBQ to get us much needed vittles (it was about 2 PM already and folks were getting hangry). The brewery is located in the typical warehouse building with minimal signage and bare-bones decoration and seating. Late 90’s metal music blared from speakers (one of which was just about under the seat for the small table we grabbed). The beer list was extensive with about 20 beers on tap and two more on cask, almost all of these were barrel aged and hefty in ABV. The vibe was irreverant, edgy, hip and metal–somehow all at once. This place reminded me of an early Three Floyd’s or Surly Brewing but with even more barrel aged monstrosities to serve than those now venerable fellows of yore.
Looking at the extensive list of beers with names like B/A/Y/S (Black As Your Soul), All I See Is Carrion, Love Of The Damned, and Two Headed Calf, I was baffled, intrigued and a bit excited! Each beer is also associated with a “Ghost” number which is the indivual release of the beer so its easier to keep track of vintage and special treatments of this expansive catalog of beers. We tried a lot of these and not one of them did I rate under a 4 out of 5! Some highlights:
- B/A/Y/S Red Wine Barrel Aged: Flavors of cocoa nibs, mild red wine, oak tannins. 4
- EBK Warning Shot: A very well balanced and cloudy NE IPA. 4.25
- Cask All I See Is Carrion: With Bourbon, cherries, coconut, and vanilla. Wow! 4.5
- Death Of Cthulhu Rum Barrel Aged: RIS with sweet toasty, roasty and sugary kick. Really nice. And named after H.P. Lovecraft’s work so instant win in my book! 4.5
- Strangers When We Meet: A passion fruit NE IPA that really takes tropical fruit to the next level. 4
- Persona Non Grata with Lacto and Pedio: A tart beer aged in Opus One Barrels! Really complex. 4
I would say quite honestly that Adroit Theory is in the top 5 breweries I’ve visited so far this year and is unlikely to drop much in my ranking. To try 15-20 beers and have all of them be amazing is simply outstanding in my book. We sipped on these (expensive) liquid treasures, the nearby speaker causing the beer in our glasses to shake like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, and literally pigged out on some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had from Monk’s. This place is worth a special trip out of the D.C. area for sure.
Catoctin Creek Distillery
Bellies full of fantastic beer and BBQ, we drove a very short distance within the same town to Catoctin Creek Distillery. This was a cute little place right in the quaint downtown area. They had taster flights of spirits as well as two mini cocktail tasters too choose from. Sj and I each chose one flight and got to try three cocktails each. We didn’t stay too long, but this was a fun little stop-off and the cocktails were pretty good. If I lived in the area I’d probably have some of these spirits stocked in my bar.
On our way back to our home base, Shae and Kathleen directed us to stop in at Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, VA. This brewery does not win points for curb appeal since it takes up a decent portion of a soulless office park. However, inside the place was bustling with locals who were enjoying the beers and food. The two owners used to brew for Old Dominion back in the day so have some brewing chops to show off. They actually have a pilsner called Rhino Chasers (which I believe is named after one of the mass produced mediocre lagers that helped usher in the craft beer crash of the 1990’s.) We all shared some samplers and some snacks and had a decent time at Lost Rhino. The beers were all decent, but across the board a bit.
- Rhino Chasers Pilsner: Meh. 3
- Dawn Patrol: Nice session NE IPA that is quite easy to drink. 3.75
- Shooter McMunn’s Irish Stout: A very well crafted dry Irish stout. 4.25
- Alphabrett: A tart brown ale with an interesting mix of bacteria. 4
- Face Plant IPA: A fair West Coast IPA. 3.5
Our final stop of the day was back to B Side in Fairfax, VA. I mentioned this place in my first post, but it bears repeating. This is an amazing bar and restaurant connected to a small butcher-shop/market called Red Apron. They have a small (15 seat) bar and a few small tables within this dark and narrow space. They have a hoard of rare (and expensive) bottled beers from the likes of The Bruery, Wicked Weed, Allagash, and countless others. A smaller curated tap list of 12 beers included some local-ish gems. I once again had a glass of the Pappy Van Winkle barrel aged Enlightened Despot from Lickinghole Creek. We had to wait a bit for a table this time, but we spent some time at the attached market to kill time. There, I stocked up on a few bottles of beer to take home, including a 4-pack of the difficult to find Founders KBS (which I had completely missed back home in MN). Once we were seated we again ordered an extreme amount of wonderful charcuterie to share. I seriously love this little gem of a bar/restaurant. I would have been happy going back every day of our trip.