The Town of Lovettsville has restaurants, bars and dozens of well-attended town events, but it’s missing the one thing it needs to pair perfectly with its annual Oktoberfest—a brewery. By 2021, that should change.
In February, entrepreneur David Keuhner purchased a 27-acre property along Berlin Turnpike immediately southeast of the town limits to build an 8,000-10,000-square-foot brewery called One Family Brewing—named for the togetherness residents experience when sitting around the table talking, laughing and crying with each other. Once completed within the next two years, Keuhner plans to brew stouts, lagers and all sorts of ales made from crops grown onsite. He also wants to brew a Lovettsville Oktoberfest beer for the annual celebration, open a farm-to-table restaurant and install Northern Virginia’s first Gold Star Memorial to honor the families of fallen soldiers.
While Keuhner’s idea to open a brewery in Loudoun began last year, his experience in the food and beverage industry began years ago, having run multiple Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses in the 1990s and generally been involved in the beer and wine industry for a while.
Keuhner, a 17-year county resident, said he worked for three or four months with the county’s Economic Development Departmentto find land suitable for a farm brewery before coming across the Lovettsville property. He said that once he stood at the property gate along Berlin Turnpike and glanced over the fields of soybean, he said to himself, “yeah, this is it.”
He’s now focused on building a farm brewery on seven acres of land at the highest point of the property near the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church. That brewery, he said, will look similar to the farm at the Shadow Creek wedding and event venue in Purcellville and will feature a large, elongated farm table that stretches down the middle of the bottom floor and individual seating out coves on the second floor.
Aside from the sense of togetherness he’s trying to promote, Keuhner said breweries and wineries in the area are missing an essential element to their operations—food. He said that while some of them bring in food trucks for their patrons, they fall short of providing more reliable and better-prepared meals. He pointed to Crooked Run Brewing’s partnership with the Señor Ramon Taqueria in Sterling as an example of what those businesses could be doing.
His planned farm-to-table restaurant will use Loudoun-farmed produce, fruit and locally raised meats and poultry, as well as crops that he’ll grow on the property’s remaining 20 acres. He said he’d also convert the existing 1,200-square-footshed in the middle of the property into a smokehouse and work with area farmers to prepare different meats each weekend.
Keuhner said he understands that not everyone likes beer as much as other drinks, so he plans to also offer wine and spirits at the brewery and restaurant.
He knows he has his work cut out for him to get up and running within 18 to 24 months. One of the largest pieces of the puzzle is to determine whether the operation and be served by on-site well and septic or whether the town would provide public water and sewer service.
Although he’s far from having a physical location to sell beer, Keuhner’s already brewed, and almost sold out of, his first craft brew—a Fall Harvest IPA. That beer is made with Comet, Chinook and Centennial hops from Loudoun and pale wheat and malt from other Virginia farms. Keuhner released the beer to the public during the Lovettsville Oktoberfest last month and is selling what he has left at Dynasty Brewing Co. in Ashburn.
He brewed the beer with Favio Garcia, the owner of Dynasty and the co-founder of the Lost Rhino Brewing Company. In wanting to “do something cool” that focuses on Loudoun’s agriculture, Keuhner and Garcia used 40 pounds of hops from Hamilton Hops and Fabbioli Cellars to brew 10 barrels of the beer, or about 310 gallons. Of that, they filled five kegs for Oktoberfest, which all ran out before the celebration concluded.
Proceeds from the beer he sold there, as well as the four-packs of 16-ounce cans he’s selling at Dynasty, go toward the $50,000 Keuhner needs to establish a Gold Star Memorial on the property. While there are 54 such memorials across the U.S., there are none in Northern Virginia or Washington, DC. Keuhner has already raised $26,000.
“It’s not about honoring one family, it’s about honoring all the families [of fallen soldiers],” he said. “We need to do a lot as a government, as a community to take care of these people.”
Keuhner also plans to launch the One Family Foundation, which will help individuals and families in need, whether they’re stricken by a natural disaster or can’t afford to pay for cancer treatment. Last year, One Family helped to raise more than $50,000 in cash and supplies to aid Hurricane Florence victims in North Carolina, working alongside Glory Days Grill in Aldie, JK Moving and Belfort Furniture to deliver the supplies to the victims.
“I’m just a big believer that you can run a successful company and give back at the same time,” Keuhner said. “That was the whole purpose for me of what one family stands for.”
Looking into the next few years, Keuhner said he’s interested in talking with the town to move its Oktoberfest celebration from the Town Green to his four-times-larger property.