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DC residents finally bid adieu to the wintry, wet weather and are fully embracing spring. If you look around, outdoor patios are packed, rooftop decks are swarmed, and beer gardens are the weekend hot spots. There’s lots to do in DC that encourages day drinking to enjoy the weather. But what if you want to get out of the city? Vineyard and brewery tours are one option.

Reston Limo, headquartered in Virginia, offers popular vineyard tours, and is usually packed with locals celebrating birthdays, bachelorette parties, and other occasions. What if you’re the type of person who’s into craft beer (or if you’re just the type of person who likes drinking beer with your friends)? Recently, the company began offering “brew bus tours” for craft beer lovers.

The Loudoun East Brew Bus tour is one of the more popular options. On a recent Sunday, a group of us gathered together to visit Old Ox Brewery, Lost Rhino, and Beltway Brewing Company, three young breweries in the Northern Virginia area. At each stop, the founders and head brewers gave a short history of the company and invited tour-goers to try a number of their fresh beers. These beers did not disappoint.

Old Ox Brewery

The bus pulled up to a brand spanking new beer factory. Old Ox is a family owned business so the founder was there to greet us with his wife, his parents, and head brewer Kenny. They offered 3 beers to try (all new and as yet unnamed) but the Belgian blonde was a particular treat. Additionally, the crowd paired their brews with desserts provided by a local bakery (Jennifer’s Pastries) and sipped and nibbled for the next hour.

Lost Rhino Brewing Company

Next, the bus made its way toward Lost Rhino, a slightly more established brewery in the neighborhood. At almost three years old, Lost Rhino has a fully operational kitchen and large event space, in addition to the brewery itself. Here, we tried fresh beer straight from the tanks. It wasn’t cold or carbonated yet, as it was still in the final stages of the brewing process, but it was delicious. Here, the brew bus attendees sampled a variety of beers including one spectacular (and non-alcoholic) homemade root beer.

Beltway Brewing Company

Finally, the crew headed over to Beltway Brewing Company where we learned about the contract brewing business. Beltway has an unconventional business model. Instead of creating their own beers, brewing, and selling, they brew beer based on others recipes. They partner with independent craft brewers as well as larger companies with a growing need for brew space. It’s a unique business structure that appears to be paying off for the founders. One of the tastiest beers sampled at Beltway was the Truck Stop Honey – a brown ale you can usually only find in the state of Alabama. Luckily, we were able to try it out because it was being brewed in the Beltway facility.

All in all, it was a jam-packed day in the DC ‘burbs. Reston Limo also offers brewery tours in DC-proper, but sometimes you need to escape the city and venture out into new territory. If you’re a craft beer lover, or know someone who is, a brewery tour is a great way to get acquainted with local lagers.