Wow! I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve posted. My other project has been sucking up all my extra time that I used to spend on this site. But I solemnly swear to keep bringing you awesome content about craft beer, Virginia beer and my great beer journey.
Recently I got a chance to visit one of Northern Virginia’s newest breweries – Old 690. I’d like to take the next 1,000 words or so to tell you why you have to escape suburbia and drive down a gravel road to visit these guys.
Before we go into Old 690’s atmosphere and the people behind it, let’s cut to the chase and get into their beer.
My wife and I each got a $10 flight of 8 3(4?)oz pours (1 of everything they were pouring). Their beers were:
- Blonde Ale
- Pale Ale
- Brown Ale
- Peach Wheat
- Raspberry Wheat
- Pumpkin Ale
The Blonde Ale is one of the best I’ve had in Loudoun County. The IPA is good – I checked it in as a 3.5. It has a lot of grapefruit flavor. The two wheat beers, Peach Wheat and Raspberry Wheat, are must haves. The Peach Wheat and Blonde Ale were my wife’s favorites. Mine were their Peach Wheat and Raspberry Wheat. The Pale Ale was a close third for me.
Unfortunately there were no Stouts or Porters on tap. Darren, who we’ll get to in a minute, told me they had a Porter on tap but ran out a few days ago.
Their beers can be summed up in two words: solid and safe. The flavors and style characteristics are there. The beers meet those BJCP requirements, are fresh and enjoyable. They are also safe, which isn’t necessarily a negative. They aren’t brewing crazy high ABV beers or wild experimental beers like you might see at other local breweries Adroit Theory and Lost Rhino. They are nailing down the basic styles (albeit without any type of lager, stout or porter), which definitely still have their place in this fledging craft beer community.
The place is adorbs. What? Isn’t that what the kids call it these days?
Seriously though, the place was put together very well. Darren, yes I will get to him soon, explained to me that it was built by Amish contractors. Then him, the other co-founder and some family and friends finished the interior.
The atmosphere is comforting. It’s like drinking in your family room with friends. Everyone was friendly. Kids ran around playing. And not the out-of-control-omg-watch-your-child type of playing. There was cornhole and other games outside along with a food truck. Reata BBQ was legit. It was the best damn potato salad I’ve ever had (sorry, grandma). Big shout-out to them!
I will say my favorite part of the whole experience was watching a toddler run up to the trashcan near my table and attempting to open it. His dad came running over, apologized and told me his son is looking for Oscar.
The only issue I had is the bathroom situation. There’s a single bathroom that you have to get to from outside. It was clean but you do have to go outside and there is only one. There’s also a port-a-potty, which I did not experience.
Darren is one of the two co-owners of Old 690. He emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me they were about to open. Let me tell you, getting a personal invite out to a brewery or brewery event is a fantastic way to get people to come. Take note new breweries.
I had a gut feeling the guy pouring our beers was Darren so I asked if he knew who Darren is. He got excited and gave me a big handshake when I told him who I am. We were there on an NFL Sunday and during halftime things seem to die down a bit so I ran over to try and get some one-on-one time with him.
Darren told me about how he and the other co-founder both work regular 9-5 jobs. They do the NoVa commute too and anyone from around here can relate to that. Routinely Darren is changing shirts in his car in the parking lot in the evenings and gets started working in the brewery. The tasting room itself is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday but, as you know, there are many other things that have to get done the other four days of the week.
Currently Old 690 consists of Darren, his co-founder and their head brewer. Three guys with supportive families “living the dream.”
Have you ever been to Hillsboro or Purcellville, VA? There isn’t much out there. I actually helped build a log cabin out that way a few years ago. A LOG CABIN. But between long stretches of trees and farmland you find this little section of Americana that is incredibly refreshing. No one is hustling around. No one is cutting you off and honking at you. No one is too busy to stop what he or she is doing and say hello. It’s an escape that could be only a few minutes away from where you live in Northern Virginia, DC or Maryland.
Once you get off Route 7, or as my friend Lauren calls it, “the road to West Virginia,” you take a couple turns down a few miles of empty two-lane roads until you come to a gravel road. Unless you read this, you’ll probably think about second-guessing your iPhone but take it anyway. On the roads leading up to the gravel road you pass both Adroit Theory and Corcoran Brewing Company. No joke, that’ll make for a nice little boozy Saturday. You’re on the gravel road for maybe a mile or two until out of nowhere appears a moderately sized, filled parking lot and the brewery.
I loved my time there. Yes, I feel I have a vested interest in seeing Old 690 succeed as it is part of Loudoun County and I want nothing more than to see craft beer in Loudoun County and Virginia do well and grow.
Old 690 is a small business ran by guys busting their butts. The people are friendly. The beers are solid. Kids are running around playing. Adults are hanging out and having a good time. They give me hope that I can do something big in the beer world one day.
Soon, find a weekend and take a little trip out to these guys. Take a gravel road and enjoy life.
What’s the last new brewery you’ve been to? Did it meet your expectations?