One interesting thing about nanobreweries is that no two visits are ever the same. If you like to explore this can be a great thing, but if you want consistency you may feel turned off. Thankfully, many nanos decide to keep a flagship beer or two around so that if a reliable pint is what you’re after you should be in luck most of the time. If you’ve not been to Crooked Run in downtown Leesburg before, you’ll easily be drawn into the quaint, cozy space. The outdoor patio feels like it could be off the back of your own house. They experiment in styles and ingredients a lot, but aim for the flavors to be fairly approachable. Still, a lot of the beers will rotate in and out, and rather than give you a snapshot in time we’re using several visits to provide a better example of the type of experience you can get. And believe us, they’re worth stopping by more than once (including their new digs over in Sterling)!
Friday Night Flight: Crooked Run Brewing (Leesburg and Sterling, VA)
Visits: June 2016 and October 2017
First Visit (Leesburg)
For my five-year wedding anniversary we decided on a B&B outing to Leesburg. While for her interests it featured plenty of (expensive) wine tastings, our spot down in the historic district happened to be walking distance to two nanobreweries and a self-styled “beer kitchen.” My wife being the awesome gal that she is, once the wine was out of the way she doted upon my sensibilities, and we hit all three breweries in short (walking) order. I spent the most time at Crooked Run
On my visit they had their flagship Red Kolsch, a mild starter to pair along with two spiced ales, a sour ale, and a wild yeast beer. That’s a lot to explore, but that patio combined with a mild late-Spring evening let us both hang out in comfort while I got my palate suitably in the mood. She even took a sip of the Gose since it looked very little like other beers!
Red Kolsch: The nitro presentation leaves a thick and malty head with pleasing caramel aromas. Smooth body, a little lager crispness that segues into the finish. 6.7
Peach Habañero Storm: Great balance of fruit and spice. No real heat but chili lingers on the finish. Peach gets nose, habañero the body. 8.7
Cherry Cayenne Storm: red chili nose that takes no prisoners on your sinuses. Not a lot of cherry, but some sweetness that fugues spice for cutting hops. Actual bitter finish as a result. 7.3
La Resaca: A Gose with a substantive lemon wheat nose. Almost a shandy body, with touches of lemonade. Some hop bitters are present but very mild. A good entry beer for the style. 7.0
Atreyu: Tart and popcorn nose. Sours are subdued but not quite funky. A little crisp, no hop presence. Lactobacillus is the star but leaves room for other flavor. 7.2
Second Visit (Sterling)
Back in 2016, CR had already told me to make a point of stopping by their new digs as soon as it was open. This whole year in Kansas thing meant that would have to wait, and in the meantime Ben assured me that the food over in Sterling (by Senor Ramon’s Taqueria) created more of a destination vibe. A recently christened biergarten only adds more value. I had no qualms taking my kids there for lunch one Saturday, as they gnoshed on chicken quesadillas and cheese fries while I dug into tacos and some tasters. Read on for take two.
Heart: Surprisingly tart, herbal, and dank. The latter eventually wipes out that early tart on the palate. 6.9
Wayward: Stone fruit on the nose, not quite as sweet. More of a loose juice across the body, as if it has some fruit flavor without the pulp. Hop zest across front of tongue. 7.1
Spilt Salt: More sea salt than simple brine, with a nice pucker that dashes across the mouth while lingering on the sides of your tongue. 7.3
Flapjack: Hearty, almost meaty maple with a sweet malt backbone. Smooth finish that begs for nitro. 8.3