Until recently, Jim Corcoran's wife, Lori, was the one with the offbeat hobby, aging cab franc, viognier and limoncello-infused Petit Manseng on their sunny estate just outside Purcellville. But in 2010 Jim planted hops next to Lori's grapevines to indulge
a passion of his own: beer. Corcoran Brewing Co. opened last year in a rust-colored barn around the bend from the Corcoran Vineyards tasting room. For now, the brewery remains one of Virginia wine country's best-kept secrets.
A visit on a Saturday means you might chat with Jim Corcoran's friendly, mustachioed brewer, Kevin Bills. On Sundays, you might find assistant brewer Brian Spak behind the bar chatting up guests about the offerings, including the LoCo, an English Style I.P.A., or the sweet-ish Round Hill Root Beer, brewed with wintergreen, vanilla, honey and sarsaparilla. (A favorite, the Padawan Pumpkin, will be available in October, debuting during the annual Loudoun Fall Color Tour. )
The brewery isn't yet using the more than a dozen varieties of hops on site, and so far production isn't enough for wide distribution, so you must visit to taste Corcoran's beers (though they'll soon be at Fire Works Pizza, Tuscarora Mills and Magnolias at the Mill). In July, the tasting room began serving pints, providing all the more reason to camp out on the patio and sup on superlative brisket sandwiches or pastrami on rye ($8-$10) served by the on-site barbecue stand, Monk's BBQ. Owner Brian "Monk" Jenkins works the wines and beers into his bevy of rich barbecue sauces (the blackberry whiskey is to die for) and supplements the smoky meats with a handful of tempting sides, including smoked gouda macaroni and cheese, hushpuppy-style fried pickles and slaw.
--Lavanya Ramanathan (Aug. 17, 2012)