I first heard about Wild Run Brewing earlier this summer, when a fellow beer geek returned from a trip to Virginia. Being a bit of a bloodhound for hunting out new breweries, he’d stumbled across the tiny outfit situated in a pretty surprising location: An RV park just off of I-95 in Stafford, Va., about an hour south of Washington, D.C. The brewery’s IPA, he told me, was not only delicious, but also brewed with trendy, lemony Sorachi Ace hops. Amused by his own discovery, he then told me he sipped a flight of beer while sitting inside the RV park’s main office, which houses a communal lounge that doubles as Wild Run’s tasting room.
My response went something like, “Wait. What?” A brewery inside an RV park with a great IPA? I had to check this out.
“I’ll do anything to attract tourism, or work with [guests] to make their experience unique,” said proprietor Everett Lovell when I gave him a ring last week. Unique, indeed.
Lovell’s owned the Aquia Pines Camp Resort for 28 years, a 20-acre wooded camping park complete with RV hookups, tent sites and cabins, which acts as temporary housing for road-weary tourists spanning about 47 states and roughly 14 different countries annually.
Over the last few years, beer started creeping into the Aquia Pines package. First, Lovell, an avid homebrewer, began hosting club meetings inside the park’s lounge, then he started selling homebrew supplies at the encouragement of club members. This past Memorial Day, he went all-in and launched Wild Run Brewing, hiring newly arrived Stafford resident Matt King (formerly of Michigan’s Right Brain Brewery) as brewmaster.
“I don’t think anyone’s come here specifically for the beer yet, but I hope to promote that in the fall,” said Lovell. “I hope to get younger clientele—most of our campers are 55 and up, mostly retirees.”
The setup at Wild Run is anything but ordinary. The entire brewing system operates in the basement, inside the park’s former game room (“Very few play the games now—we had to sell them because people have better games in their campers,” Lovell told me.). The equipment’s located directly below the lounge, allowing Lovell to run line’s right up to the above bar, which now anchors a communal room lined with a TV, a fireplace and a bookshelf filled with literature about area attractions.
Four beers are regularly on tap, with a house-made root beer claiming the fifth faucet. The lineup often includes a red ale, a cream ale, a stout, an amber, a pale ale and, of course, that IPA.
“Our IPA is not a knock-your-teeth-out IPA,” said Lovell. “It’s very clean and crisp. I like to present that to people and say, ‘Here’s an IPA: It’s crisp and clear and you, too, can do that at home. You don’t need 14 different hops at 18 different hopping intervals.’”
Wild Run’s taproom isn’t confined to four walls. According to Lovell, Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control designated the entire park a tasting room, allowing guests to carry out pitchers of beer to their campers, the community campfire or the pool.
Soon, that beer will be available to-go—as in outside the park. In the near future, Lovell plans to bottle small batches of his lineup of beers in 22-ounce bombers, in hopes that word spreads across the state, region and country.
“[It’s] for people who want to take it home and give it to their son-in-law, or something,” explained Lovell. “A lot of people have relatives that brew beer, or like beer.” While they’re at it, they can pick up a brewing kit at the site’s homebrew store, too.