While it’s becoming more common for Loudouners to see a new brewery open, it’s less usual to see one that appeals to not only the everyday beer drinker, but also the business professional and the avid hiker.
Bear Chase Brewing Co. in Bluemont opened its doors earlier this month for visitors to stop in, grab a drink and enjoy some of the county’s most scenic views. Now operating a 10-barrel brew house with a 20-tap system and nine beers currently on draught, Bear Chase is realizing the fruits of an idea that wasn’t formed until recently. According to General Manager Chris Suarez, the brewery was essentially an afterthought that five longtime friends had after purchasing the 35-acre property last fall, with the goal of managing a rental house.
Once they spent some time on the land, the friends realized they could—and should—open a brewery in addition to renting out a vacation home—one that averages about $800 per night and features six bedrooms with room for 16 people, and an indoor pool and library that overlook the Loudoun Valley.
“They saw the potential from the other breweries in the area,” Suarez said. “Everything was in the right place at the right time.”
Since its soft opening a month ago, the brewery, which was named for the previous property owners’ dogs that chased away bears, has hit the ground running. It has two IPAs, a helles, two blonde ales, a strong ale, a pilsner, a pale ale and an American amber on tap, with even more to come in the next few months.
“Our goal is to have… 12 to 16 beers on draught at all times,” Suarez said. “Our beer is phenomenal.”
The brewery also offers patrons a wide selection of food like pizza, pretzels and meat and cheese plates, something Suarez said that many brewery menus are lacking.
Visitors are invited to not only head out for a drink after work or on the weekend, but also to telecommute from the brewery’s nearly 2,000-square-foot indoor pavilion that features free Wi-Fi. Appalachian Trail hikers can also stop in for a drink, since the brewery is only about 1,000 feet up the road from the Rt. 7 trailhead. “We want to be a brewery that is for everyone,” Suarez said.
As for special events, Bear Chase plans to hold at least one each month. Visitors are invited to the brewery this Saturday for Oktoberfest. On Oct. 29 there will be a Halloween party and on Nov. 3 for an oyster fest in conjunction with the King Street Oyster Bar.
“We want to create a fun, safe environment for everyone, including employees,” Suarez said. “We want to focus on having fun here.”
Suarez said that he attributes much of the brewery’s early success to Charles Noll, the head brewer who came on board with 25 years of experience. Suarez’s background has helped, too. Before Bear Chase, Suarez worked for Destination Hotels for 11 years, the past five overseeing beer operations at Lansdowne Resort.
Bear Chase is one of 33 breweries open in Loudoun County, which surpasses the number of breweries in each of the four surrounding counties combined—with 10 in Fairfax, eight in Prince William, four in Fauquier and none in Clarke County.
Bear Chase is open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Learn more at bearchasebrew.com.