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Family-friendly Vanish Brewery welcomes two- and four-legged creatures

Vanish Brewery customer Whitney Wilson enjoys a beer with her French Bulldog Cheese, as Hooch, a Red Heeler pup owned by Christopher Bernstein, and an unidentified patron look on. Times-Mirror/Ed Felker
With 20 beers on tap in its massive taproom, great food, scenic views and plenty of live music, Leesburg’s Vanish Brewery has something for everyone. And with loads of picnic tables on the newly expanded lawn area where kids can run around, it has become one of the most family-friendly spots to enjoy craft beer in a rural western Loudoun environment.

“We make no bones about it, we’re a family place,” said Jonathan Staples, who owns Vanish with his wife, Hilda. “If you want to come to a place where there are no kids, we’re not your place.”

For Staples, though, family-friendly also means dog-friendly. Virginia law prohibits dogs from being inside a building where beer is made, so many area breweries have opened their patios and decks to dogs for customers who love to have a pint in the company of their four-legged best friend.

Staples has gone to great lengths to ensure the comfort and convenience of those who want to come to Vanish with their dogs. “We had this pavilion and we had our barrel house that we used for events,” Staples said. “But they’re in a separate building (from the beer manufacturing), so I thought, what if we take this and make it a dog-centric extension of the brewery?”

So that’s exactly what he did. The pavilion and adjoining stable building is now called Dogtown -- and dog-loving patrons could not be happier.

With two outdoor bars in the pavilion and one in the barrel house, those with dogs can get a beer without having to go inside to the main taproom. There’s even a separate bathroom area set aside for dogs.

“Our goal was to make a place where dogs are welcome,” Staples said. “The whole idea of family for so many people is not just kids, it’s also dogs. And to have a place where they say part of your family can’t come, I felt bad about that.”

Many people with busy lives and careers come to breweries with their children because they don’t see their kids or dogs very much during the week.

“What’s true for children is just as true for dogs,” Staples said. “If you have two days on a weekend with your dog, it’s a shame that you have to choose between being with your dog or going to a place where you can have a beer and be out with your friends.”

Staples believes that sharing quality recreational time with your dog also makes for happier, healthier dogs.

“Dogs that get to go out with their families in public, and get to be around other dogs and people, end up being better behaved, better adjusted dogs.”

This summer, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) returned to Vanish for the first time since he attended the groundbreaking ceremony two years earlier. McAuliffe loves beer and dogs, and even named his yellow lab ‘Guinness’ after his favorite beer in Ireland. “Vanish has the things I love in life: They’ve got beer … and dogs,” McAuliffe said. “I give them credit, Jonathan and Hilda, for the great work they’ve done in putting this together.”

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