Note: This post was written on Memorial Day. Since my first visit, I have visited Ocelot almost every weekend.
Loudoun County boasts some pretty serious craft breweries, as evidenced by my last post. While that only begins to scratch the surface of what the county has to offer, it’s a good starting point for getting into the local craft beer scene in northern Virginia. After visiting a new brewery in Sterling this weekend, it is safe to say that there is some serious competition for all other Loudoun County breweries.
Ocelot Brewing opened its doors for a soft open in April but they had their grand opening this weekend. It is located in a no-frills industrial park off of Old Ox Road/Rt 606 in Sterling, but don’t let the exterior fool you. The interior is inviting with what looks like a bar and tables made from repurposed wood and a southern California gastropub feel. The walls are made from cinder blocks and the main tasting room is big and open with plenty of room to sit or stand.
Where this place really shines, though, is the beer. They had eight beer on tap and I got to try them all. They also had two taps on nitro, so naturally I had to got tasters of those to compare to the originals. I started off with a flight, which consists of any six of their beers, served in a large wooden tray.
I’ll detail each of these since they were all pretty amazing beers (from left to right):
Lemon Yellow Sun (hoppy wheat beer): Nice citrus notes in aroma, big lemon citrus taste with a lingering bitter finish
Dogs of Doom (DIPA): Big, bold West Coast hop aroma and flavor. Nice big malt backbone balanced perfectly with complex hop bill. Floral and citrus notes throughout.
Fading Beauty (Imperial IPA): Sweet, floral, and earthy with grassy notes throughout. Less bitter than the other two IPA’s but more flavorful. Very drinkable for an imperial and probably my favorite beer that I tasted.
Hangman (Imperial Red Ale): Nice big, bitter malt backbone with subtle hops throughout and a slightly bitter finish. I’m not usually a big fan of reds, but this one is really good.
Soft Lies (Black IPA): Spicy, bitter aroma matched in the taste. Some bitterness from the malt combines with some serious hops to create a bitter black licorice finish.
My Only Friend (Imperial Stout): Big and roasty throughout, with lots of chocolate in the nose. Bitterness from malts reminiscent of dark chocolate, with some coffee notes and a bitter chocolate finish. Big, thick mouthfeel on this one. This is a very good stout.
I also got a taster of their My Worried Mind, an imperial Berliner. This beer was perfectly balanced for a sour, with a sweet start and finish, but bursting with sour fruit notes in the middle. And at 7% ABV, this one is definitely meant for sipping. As for the nitro versions of Hangman and My Only Friend, both held onto most of the flavor, while simply mellowing out the most bitter notes.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic food. While the brewery didn’t serve any food besides chips, they followed the trend that many local breweries are doing by allowing a food truck to post up out back. This food truck was Big Frank’s BBQ. After some quick research, I learned that they have been rotating around to other local breweries, most notably Old Ox and Old 690. I got the two-meat, two-side option with pork ribs and beef brisket. My sides were the Liquid Cheetos and Nature’s Skittles. In case you’re wondering, the Liquid Cheetos are a cheesy mass of grits that tasted sort of like cheetos. Nature’s Skittles is an incredible fruit salad drizzled with lemon-lime zest and honey, among other things. The real star here is the meat though. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the best beef brisket that I have ever tasted. It melts in the your mouth and the crust from the seasoning is to die for. Big Frank, whatever you do to make your brisket taste like that, keep doing it. And good news for Ocelot fans: Frank informed me that Ocelot wants them to hang out there 4-5 days a week. (Note: Ocelot has since announced that Big Frank would be at the brewery full-time)
Now, for the ratings:
This place knows how to brew beer. This is maybe the most serious beer I have tasted in Loudoun County. Most of these rival Adroit Theory in quality, but the difference is that I loved every beer I had here. If you noticed, they like big beers. That’s pretty much all they are brewing right now. Every single one was imperial in nature. And they were all very good. The location is tucked away a bit, but easy enough to get to. The atmosphere was very laid back and inviting, and they are dog friendly. The food from Big Frank’s was amazing, so as long as he’s cooking for them, I’ll go back. And the price was pretty reasonable. We ended up getting 11 (generous) tasters and a growler fill for $50. I love Lost Rhino, Old Ox, Adroit, and Old 690, but I think I have a new favorite local brewery in Ocelot.
Note: Ocelot has debuted at least one new beer each week since their grand opening.