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Black Hoof Brewing: Bavarian coziness in Leesburg

Black Hoof Brewing owner Bill Hasse at the new tap room in downtown Leesburg. Times-Mirror/Sophie Desmond
The German word “gemütlichkeit” is an adjective that describes a place of warmth and good cheer.

“Let’s see if I pronounce it right,” laughed Bill Hasse, brewer and owner of Black Hoof Brewing, as he explained “gemütlichkeit” in an interview with the Times-Mirror.

His wife, Nikki, speaks German, but wasn’t available at that moment for correct pronunciation.

“To me it means homey, coziness, where all your friends come and gather,” said Haase.

It’s that atmosphere, gemütlichkeit, that Black Hoof Brewing creates in their new brewery and taproom in Leesburg.

“When my wife and I were traveling through Germany, we found that the most unique beers were in small towns in Bavaria—very similar to Leesburg, these agricultural, rural towns. We wanted to bring that same experience to downtown Leesburg with good, clean German beers that you can’t find on grocery store shelves,” Haase said.

For a long time, Haase was a hobby home-brewer. After 12 year in the Marines, he attended North Carolina State and earned a degree in environmental engineering.

“I spent about 15 years in engineering, and one of my colleagues got me into brewing. Being an engineer I just got a bunch of books and did research,” Haase said. “Then I home-brewed for about 10 years. I was giving it to my neighbors and friends and they’d say, ‘Oh man this is great, you should enter competitions.’ I finally said OK and entered the American Homebrewers Association’s competition, which is the largest in the United States, in 2014. I had two beers make it through the first round to nationals, and I placed with my Märzen. Not long after that I decided to get out of the cube and start my own business.”

The winning Märzen is one of seven beers currently available in the tap room. It’s a yummy German amber lager, smooth and malty with a touch of caramel, and is a favorite of Tommy Reynolds, a bar hand at Black Hoof.

When Haase was asked which would be his go-to brew if he could only pick one, he said “probably the Helles,” a nice light German lager and is served in the beer halls of Munich.

“If you went there today that’s what you would be drinking,” said Haase.

The tap room is situated on King Street in Leesburg in what used to be Caulkins Jewelers, which had been there for 60 years. The building caught fire in the residential space in 2015 and displaced the residents, Caulkins Jewlers, and closed the Leesburg Diner for after-fire cleanup.

“We’re coming up on the two-year anniversary of the fire there,” said Mike O’Conner, who owns the buildings that house the Leesburg Diner and now Black Hoof. “We’re really happy to have another new, vibrant business coming to downtown Leesburg. Time marches on as the saying goes, and it’s best when you have the right people to work with. And Bill is a really great brewmaster, really great beer down there.”

The space itself is bright and welcoming, with wood panels and cream colored walls, typical of the Bavarian breweries that the Haases loved during their travels. There are plugs and USB ports behind the comfy banquette tables where customers can connect their electronics, and there are hooks under the bar to hang your coat or purse. Both bathrooms have changing tables.

“We’re equal opportunity diaper duty here,” Haase and assistant brewer Brandon Flanigin explained.

The front corner of the taproom has seating that can be moved to accommodate a live band.

“The architect we worked with when we were putting this place together, Brad Pierce, is also a musician who plays with the King Street Kats here in Leesburg. We definitely needed a space for live music,” said Haase.

Naturally, the King Street Kats will be playing at Black Hoof soon.

Facebook/Black Hoof Brewing

Black Hoof held a soft opening last Friday, and the owners plan to have their grand opening in three weeks. Haase and his team are excited to be in such a familiar space in Leesburg.

As Haase told the Times-Mirror, “We met with Stanley Caulkins, my wife and I, and he gave us the history of this building and told us that when he was a teenager, this place was an A&P. There’s still a trap door up front that goes to a cellar where they used to keep the bananas and things to keep them cool in the summertime.”

Black Hoof Brewing is currently open 12-9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 12-6 p.m. on Sundays. It's located at 11 S King Street in downtown Leesburg.


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