It’s been nearly 10 months in the making, but Old Ox Brewery is set to open its Middleburg location on June 21, the longest day of the year.
Old Ox in August purchased the quarter-acre Health Center property from the town for $750,000 to open a 2,900-square-foot tasting room with room for 50 guests and to create a 2,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden fronting Madison Street. “We think that that outdoor space definitely sets us apart,” Owner Chris Burns said.
Burns said the construction crews working to renovate the lower portion of the building into Middleburg’s first brewery are “down to the nitty gritty” and should wrap up work by June 15 to coincide with Old Ox’s five-year anniversary. Burns said that aside from the physical work, he just needs to get a few final approvals signed off on. “We feel good that we’ll be ready to go on the 21st,” he said.
When that time comes, Burns will break out a special beer he’s been cellaring for the occasion and invite Middleburg’s elected officials and staff members, as well as the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and the Middleburg Business Association, to the ribbon cutting. “There’s lots of people that we’ve counted on to help us make this a realty,” Burns said.
Burns said that by September, the brewery should have its five-barrel, 95-gallon brewing system up and running in the property’s five-bay, 1,000-square-foot garage. Burns said he expects to brew up to 700 barrels, or 21,700 gallons, of beer on site each year.
He also plans to brew specialty beers for the Middleburg location—beers he said would be created by looking at the beer trends of 2019. Those might include new IPA styles, barrel-aged beers, sours, fruited beers and any other variations “popular in the market today.”
Burns said the smaller size of the brewing system in Middleburg would provide Old Ox “ultimate flexibility” to brew beers it can’t with its 30-barrel system in Ashburn.
That beer will be brewed and stored in the property’s garage and run into the tasting room via beer lines contained inside a 115-foot-long pipe, which Burns said could be dubbed “The Middleburg Beer Pipeline.”
Until that point, though, Burns said Old Ox would continue to brew all of its beer in Ashburn and transport it to Middleburg once a week.
Burns said the brewery will also offer lite fare and bring food trucks to the private parking lot out back. In general, Burns said the food selections he’ll offer will be “very modest” at first before he and his team expand the selection. “That will evolve as we get our feet wet,” he said.
The brewery will also feature a private event space and a game room with dartboards and shuffleboard tables.
Once Old Ox Middleburg is fully operational this fall, Burns said he would shift his focus to working with other businesses in the community. Already, he’s had “a ton of discussions with local businesses,” and is working on “quite a few collaborative projects.”
He said he could brew beers in conjunction with restaurants, like an oyster stout with the King Street Oyster Bar or a coffee beer with Middleburg Common Grounds. “We really feel welcomed into this community,” he said.
As for the health center’s two existing tenants—a Pilates studio and a doctor’s office—Burns said they both recently signed long-term leases with Old Ox. “We’re excited to have them as neighbors,” he said.
There’s also room for one more business to move into the building and a residential unit that Burns and his team might keep for residents or convert into a brew master’s suite for customers to stay in while visiting town.
In spring 2018, the Town Council looked to find better social and economic uses for the Health Center property. In May 2018, the town received interest 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 submissions and recommended that the Town Council negotiate with Old Ox in June last year. In July, Mayor Bridge Littleton executed a letter of intent with Burns.
To prepare for construction of the beer garden, the Town Council approved Old Ox in March to remove a large elm tree in the courtyard. In the coming months, Burns will replace that tree with a new magnolia tree, as suggested by the town’s Streetscape Committee.
“We’re really excited to finally see that vision that we’ve been working on for over a year come to fruition,” Burns said.
Old Ox opened its first location in an Ashburn warehouse space in 2014 and now attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Burns said that in 2018, the brewery produced and distributed 5,500 barrels—or 170,500 gallons—ofbeer to locations in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and in the Hampton Roads area.
A week prior to Old Ox Middleburg’s tentative grand opening, during its 12-9 p.m. five-year anniversary celebration, the brewery will shuttle 43 customers from its Ashburn location out to Middleburg for a private tour of the new site led by Burns, lunch from a local catering company and unlimited beer tastings.
Marketing Coordinator Kirstie Pratt said guests would also have an opportunity to explore the town. “It’s the entire Middleburg experience,” she said.
As of Tuesday, May 28, the brewery still had 20 spots open for the trip. The cost is $50.
To reserve a spot, go to middleburgexperience.eventbrite.com.