Old Ox Brewery, which has grown quickly to become one of Northern Virginia’s largest breweries, is opening a second tasting room in Middleburg.
The Middleburg Town Council last week voted unanimously to approve the sale of the town-owned Health Center property with Old Ox Brewery for it to open a tasting room and an outdoor beer garden.
The brewery will spend $750,000 to purchase the quarter-acre property, which is located at 14-16 S. Madison Street and includes a 3,400-square-foot building.
The sale comes months after the town set out to find better social and economic uses for the property, which it’s owned and managed for 39 years. The brewery’s owners expect to attract more visitors to the town and contribute to the community by creating new events, becoming involved in existing events, and collaborating with other businesses.
“Everything’s been going really well,” said Old Ox Co-owner Chris Burns. “We’re incredibly excited about this opportunity.”
Burns said he anticipates phase one of the property redevelopment to begin in early October and take up to 14 weeks to complete. This phase will include converting the building’s unoccupied 2,900-square-foot basement into a tasting room and the 1,000-square-foot courtyard into a beer garden. A private event space and a game room with dartboards and shuffleboard tables will also be constructed in phase one.
Burns said the brewery would open to the public once this phase is complete next spring. Until then, the brewery might open a pop-up location to introduce their beers to the town.
Phase two will see the installation of a three-barrel, 95-gallon brewing system in the property’s five-bay garage that’s been used as a parking garage for Middleburg Police Department’s cruisers. Old Ox expects to brew about 200 barrels, or 6,200 gallons, of beer on site each year, with brewing taking place no more than twice a week. It also plans to brew specialty beers for its Middleburg location.
“We want to be able to produce these fantastic, experimental, small-batch beers,” Burns said. “That’s a great opportunity for us to stretch our creative muscles.”
Since Old Ox opened in a warehouse space in Ashburn in 2014, it’s grown to attract more than 100,000 visitors each year. This year, it will also produce and distribute 5,500 barrels—or 170,500 gallons—of beer to locations in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and in the Hampton Roads area.
Until the brewing system is installed, Old Ox will continue to transport beer to Middleburg from its Ashburn location. Burns said that popular beers like Golden Ox and Hoppy Place IPA will continue to be brewed in Ashburn and transported to Middleburg.
Burns said the brewery will also offer food to its customers, whether that’s via food trucks or through another outlet. “We recognize food as an important part of the experience,” he said.
In the spirit of working with other local businesses, Burns said Old Ox could brew beers like an oyster stout in conjunction with the King Street Oyster Bar or a coffee beer with Middleburg Common Grounds.
“Community focus has always been one of the pillars of our business,” he said. “We’re always looking to strengthen the communities that we serve.”
The brewery also plans to keep the three building’s existing tenants—a Pilates studio, a counseling service and a doctor’s office—in place.
As for any concern about noise and odor in the building, Old Ox plans to not occupy any space on the first or second floors and intends to set appropriate hours of operation for its Middleburg location. It also won’t create any odors from spent grain, since it will remove the grain within 24 hours of brewing. Steam produced from brewing will also be vented through the roof of the building.
Business and Economic Development Director Jamie Gaucher said is hopeful that Old Ox will bring visitors to the town, which will help bring more business to the town’s many new restaurants.
“We have people coming to town looking for an authentic Middleburg experience and anything that adds to that … I think adds to the cultural opportunity that we have here in Middleburg,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to bring some additional diversity to the local economy.”
Mayor Bridge Littleton said the Town Council appreciates the brewery’s hard work in preparing its redevelopment proposal. “We look forward to having you guys here,” he said.
While the proceeds from the sale will be set aside in a separate town fund and put toward charity, in the long run it will provide the town with at least $1,030 annually from property taxes, based on the town’s rate of $0.165 per $100 of assessed value and the property’s $624,400 value, as listed by the Loudoun County Assessment Parcel Database this year. Gaucher said the property would be re-appraised and most likely increase in value once Old Ox completes the redevelopment. The town will also receive revenue from meals tax, business license fees and water and sewer payments.
During the past four decades, the town has been operating the Health Center property at a loss. Not only has it been responsible for property maintenance, but it’s also been unable to collect tenants’ rent payments, because of a stipulation in the property’s 1939 incorporation document requires the property owner to donate all generated revenue to charity. According to Health Center Advisory Board member Howard Armfield, about $30,000 is donated each year.
The process of securing a new owner for the Health Center property has gone fairly quickly. The town first asked in the spring for companies to express their interest in purchasing. In May, the Town Council received responses from Old Ox and the partnership of Treptow Development Co. and St. Mawes LLC, which focused its proposal on residential and commercial components. A proposal review committee analyzed both responses and recommended in June that the Town Council move forward with Old Ox.
“We’re extremely excited,” Burns said. “We think that Middleburg has that great small town community feel that we’re really excited to contribute to.”