Best Northern Virginia beer?
I will be visiting my brother in Winchester, VA during Thanksgiving and when I travel I try to grab some local beer to take back home (Athens, Georgia). I usually bring back Yuengling, since it can't be sold in Georgia. (Side note, Georgia has some real weird alcohol laws. I can get Yuengling in Alabama and S. Carolina, but not good ole' GA). However, I wanted to try something else this time. So, Northern Virginians, West Virginians (near Northern VA), Marylanders and Southern Pennsylvanians what should I bring home this time? I like all kinds, but prefer ales, stouts, and porters. Also, it has to be portable. So, no tap only microbrews. Lastly, if it's something I can't get at a nearby store, the limit is a two-hour drive max from Winchester. I can't be lugging the family all day for a beer run. Kind of makes the wife and kids cranky. As a back-up, I will be traveling I-81. So, if you know of something that's not to far from the interstate from Winchester to Pulaski, please let me know.
If you can't get victory brews in GA (I have no idea), they're great. Olde Richmond's IPA (maybe #11?) and Legend beers from Newport News and Richmond (respectively) are pretty good. The Loose Cannon IPA from Baltimore is also good. May want to post this on the beer thread as well.
Not local, but you can get Stone's and Bear Republic beers in that area. Both are fantastic west coast breweries that make great hoppy beers.
I think you can get Clipper City in GA, but if you can't, their Heavy Seas series is very good, particularly the aforementioned Loose Cannon IPA. I've been disappointed by the Legend beers in the bottle although I enjoy the brewpub in Richmond. Another PA brewery that is not available in GA is Troegs and they make some good beers, too.
i know both olde richmond (which is made by st. george in hampton - we only like two and only the pale ale is really good) and legend are unpasteurized and have to stay cold even in the bottle. may definitely be a freshness thing with buying bottles. people by a lot here. athough here in richmond a lot of places have legend on tap and it is definitely better.
love stone's beers too.
When I am in Northern VA, I generally go to Vienna to buy beer. Between the Whole Foods and Norm's, the selection is pretty good. I looked at Mapquest and Vienna is about 1 hour 15 minutes from Winchester.
En route, you might want to stop in Ashburn at Old Dominion brewpub for lunch. I have not been since they were sold but their Oak Barrel Stout is worth trying. I have to be honest and say I have had mixed experiences and I learned that sometimes they age it in oak barrels and other times they use oak chips during secondary fermentation. You can tell the difference, and the bottled product was never aged in the barrel, unfortunately. I did read a while back that the new owners did not plan to age any more batches in oak barrels but that may or may not be correct.