No plans in Leesburg, VA
It is hard to justify a 5 hour drive to visit friends without having plans or a task to accomplish, no party, no wedding, no birthday, no concert, just a visit to hang out and keep in touch. It would be much easier to stay at home and check off some of the to do list. But since I always have that ever exploring need that pulls me into the next experience I hop in the car and make the drive.
After a leisure breakfast of decaf coffee (yeah I know, it is all they had), waffles, and good conversation we start to discuss plans for the day. We have to decide between a trip to Alexandria to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum or a brewery tour of Northern Virginia. While both sound like a wonderful idea the downpour that was happening outside swayed us to the brewery tour since it would all be inside and not an hour away.
We pull into the first stop at 12:03, an 'appropriate' time for beer. The Old 690 Brewing Company, which distinguishes itself from the others in the area by being a farm brewery, that sits on 10 acres of ‘country land’ or at least as close to the country as you get in the area. I was insistently digging the place after seeing an old pickup truck with beer kegs in the back, and walking in I felt right at home. Lets just hope the beer is as good as the vibe I was getting. Now the hard party the beer decision….after very little review of the beer list I decided to try the Bitter Neighbor IPA and the Black Widow DIPA. What? I don’t need to read all the beers I know what I like! IPA! and DIPA! Both were delicious, but I decided on the Bitter Neighbor IPA since it was only a little after noon and we had some more breweries to attend. We took our drinks outside to sit and watch the rain. I snagged a few tastes of other beers at the table. The oatmeal stout was also delicious but a bit heavy for my taste, like most stouts. As I snack on some popcorn with old bay on it, listen to some old school Nirvana, and chat with the beer slinger that came to check on us about water drainage on the patio I felt like a regular and I came here every weekend. This is by far my favorite brewery we attended this weekend.
The next stop on the tour was Old Ox Brewery. On our way to the brewery we drive threw a maze of an industrial plaza look for a brewery, this is a rather novel idea to me. A brewery in an industrial park? Keep an open mind this is the populated area of northern Virginia not upstate New York. The breweries need to get a location where they can find it. Finally after spotting a location with cars and find the brewery. While reviewing the beer list I hear Dave Matthews Band come over the speakers and realize I was a bit quick to judge a brewery by its location. The beer list was short and sweet with the core beers Black Ox, Golden Ox, and Alpha Ox and a couple others thrown in. I made the easy choice of the Alpha Ox a session IPA. After a quick look around I got concerned about seating before noticing a door into brewing warehouse where a projector with a sports game could entertain anyone without as good of company as I had for the day. While I love drinking beer in the same room it was born in this brewery did not capture my heart.
An intermission from the brewery tour was made to watch Jurassic World and grab a bite to eat.
Lost Rhino was our final stop on the tour. Guess where the brewery was located? In an industrial park, go figure. The beer list was rather lengthy at this brewery but old habits die hard so I stuck with an IPA. Yes I know, I should branch out but the description said grapefruit notes, that is right up my alley so I choose the face plant IPA. The vibes here felt very much like my hometown brewery (Ithaca Beer Co.), large picnic tables with communal seat for days. Food is also served here, we didn’t order any because we just ate but it looked good. No waitresses, just order at the bar, get a number and take a seat. This seemed to be one of the more popular breweries in the area because it was packed! Either it has better beer or it was a more ‘normal’ time to grab a beer. This is for sure a place I would like to go back again when it isn’t as busy to try to all the beers and get some food. At this time we were all ready to head back to my friends house to mellow out and get some rest.
On Sunday morning we decided to take a trip to Great Falls Park. It was a drive like most things from my friend’s house but with all the rain from Saturday we thought it worth the drive. Since I always love a trip to a park I was all in. We arrive to the park entrance around 11:30 and there was TRAFFIC, not just a 4 or 5 cars wait to get in but a LINE, and it took FOREVER. During this forever wait we saw a few cars forfeit the line but we stuck with it because we drove 45 minutes to get there and damn it we wanted to see some water! Once the torture of traffic was over and we arrive in the park we had a short walk to the Potomac River edge. Maybe I am spoiled by living in Ithaca and seeing gorgeous water falls just about every day but I didn’t think it was worth the wait in traffic. If we would have packed a lunch and actually hung out at the park it could have been worth the wait in traffic but not with just a short walk to the waters edge and around a bit.
The final stop of the trip was “Melt” a gourmet cheeseburger joint that claims to be the best in Loudoun County. Upon walking in and seeing the size of the burgers my friend and I decided to split one and get a few orders of fried sides. The burger was pretty damn good. I am not a huge burger fan but this hit the spot. Maybe it was all the beer the previous day that made me crave greasy food, who knows. The burger was very meaty, for me this is a downfall but others at the table loved that they didn’t skimp on the meat. The best things about the burger, the bun was substantial enough to hold up to all the toppings. This is typically my main complaint about burger joints, the toppings are great, the meat is good, the bacon is good, but attention is lacking on the bun. This is not the case at Melt. The bun was not too small or soft that it fell apart at the first bite. Most interesting item ordered was the sweet potato fries that are served with marshmallow fluff. Although these are not for me the idea is wonderful and was reminiscence of thanksgiving dinner and candied sweet potatoes. I love the idea. They had some bangin' onion rings, the best thing on the menu for me.
Now it is time for the 5-hour trip back home. When leaving Leesburg I look out over the manicured lawns strictly divided yards with fences and wonder where is the beauty of nature. I only see the man-made beauty of mower lines in every yard, landscaping that draws your eyes to the flowers in bloom, and enormous houses that would make anyone envious of the Jones in the house. Upon this realization I know it is time to take my wild untamed side back to the 10 square mile of crunchy Ithaca where no one cares about the Jones or their immaculate yard.