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Brewdoun: Craft brews aren’t just for the dudes

Women take up equal spots at Lost Rhino Brewing Company on a busy Friday night. Courtesy Photo/Matt Leonard
It’s time to scrap the image of the bearded man brewing beer for a bar full of dudes. Though this archetype still exists, the female counterpart joins him.

For every man knocking back a cold one, there is a woman beside him.

At Lost Rhino Brewing Company, Melissa Hoffman works behind the scenes as their cellar operator. She monitors the facility’s 15 fermenters, runs tests and cleans equipment. As a mom that left the pharmaceutical industry, Hoffman said she finds working with the team at Lost Rhino rewarding. The result is a success with beers like Wheels of Soul, a smooth and malty red ale, and Final Glide, the ideal summer Hefeweizen.

Hoffman is not the only lady working hard in the local beer industry. Solace Brewing Company boasts a female lead brewer, Bridgette Turner. After attending a brew school in England and graduating with honors, and lending her experience at Tampa Bay Brewing, Turner has quickly become an invaluable member to the Solace team. Creating Long Vacation, the IPA delivers fruity notes with a smooth, refreshing finish. In other collaborative efforts, Solace offers choice beers like Beach Bod, a light summer ale infused with watermelon.

At Old Ox Brewery women are lending a hand everywhere. Jessica Wright is the location’s knowledgeable tasting room manager and Allison Lange is their infamous head brewer. As Lange was pursuing a career in photography, the beer industry sparked her interest. With a background in biochemistry, she understood how to work with yeast. This is well demonstrated in her Year of the Ox Blackberry Farmhouse Ale, which uses a Belgian yeast strain. It is light and pleasant, while Ruby Unpuckered Raspberry Saison contains delectable sour notes.

And women aren’t just behind the bar – they’re in front of it as well. On a recent Friday night, a mom stopped by Old Ox off the W&OD trail. She fed her toddler a snack while discussing her business plan as a nutritionist.

At Ocelot Brewing Company recently, women and men took up equal spots on a Saturday afternoon. A group of young women came out with significant others, but they weren't at all opposed to going to a brewery. One young woman said she’s more of an IPA drinker than her boyfriend. She had come to the right place – Round and Round We Go IPA is bitter, neat, and clean and Burn Your Papers, their double IPA, holds great character in its lush rind notes.

No matter who is behind the bar, the beer is often flowing in Loudoun County, and women delight in throwing back a cold one … so scoot over, gentlemen.

Bonnie Leonard is head author for Brewdoun.com, a site highlighting Loudoun County breweries.

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