A couple of years ago, Gordon MacDowell was looking for his next big project. For years, he contemplated opening his own brewery, but the timing was never right.
Finally everything came together early last year and he made plans with business partner Nils Schnibbe to make the brewery a reality.
MacDowell, who grew up in Leesburg, has been in business here since 1987. He has a kitchen design business that had slowed down due to the economy. Schnibbe previously managed Doener Bistro, located next door.
Together, they created a design for the space and built it out, forming MacDowell Brew Kitchen. They opened in November 2011.
The Brew Kitchen sells a long list of beers - 150 to be exact, with 16 on draft.
Several of the beers on tap are local microbrews, including Lost Rhino, Starr Hill, Devils Backbone and Port City. There are a few wines on the menu, including locally owned Bluemont Vineyards.
The menu has a long list of options including a variety of appetizers such as fried green tomatoes, hand cut fries, also sweet potato, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, freshly made potato chips and more. Entrees include pulled pork, pulled chicken, fish and chips, and several different Panini sandwiches. They also make homemade beef and vegetarian chili and offer a variety of fresh salads.
MacDowell has also recently created his own “nanobrewery”, which according to MacDowell, means that it is “smaller than small”.
They sold out of their home brew on the first night it was available, and they plan to make more, which should be available in a few weeks.
Business in the first year has “exceeded our expectations quite significantly,” MacDowell said.
They are already talking about expansion, including in the patio area, dubbed “Beermuda," complete with palm trees, fire pits and a retired fishing boat as a bar. MacDowell is expanding its brewing facilities as well and they are hoping to create an al fresco dining area in the front.
MacDowell Brew Kitchen is located at 202 Harrison St, SE, Leesburg. Hours are Tues. - Thurs. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 12 a.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.