Brewery Name: Ocelot Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 23600 Overland Drive #180, Dulles, VA 20166. The building houses a variety of different businesses, but Ocelot is located right on the corner. You can’t miss them.
Facebook: Ocelot Brewing Company
Background: Ocelot was founded by people who just plain love beer: “From beer trades, to home brewing, to attending release parties and festivals one thing became clear…we rarely drink the same beer over and over again, and we love to share.” The brewery they created is a reflection on this. From hoppy IPAs to sour beers to big imperials, this is a group that loves to experiment and share their passion with the world.
Growlers: Yep. Growlers are available for purchase in the taproom.
The Beers: I admit, I knew very little about Ocelot going into our D.C. trip. It was too far out for me to easily visit when I lived in the city, so I didn’t really know what to expect from their beer offerings. When we walked in and saw almost 20 beers on their tap list, you could have knocked me over with a feather. It’s about double what I would have expected, and, naturally, we had to try all of them. Here were a few of the most interesting:
Vibe: Hands down, no doubt, without question my favorite venue we visited during our D.C. beercation. Ocelot has an incredible amount of space in their taproom. It has massive ceilings without feeling like a warehouse, an huge amount of floor space without feeling empty, and a gigantic wooden bar that feels as solid as a tree trunk. In the back of the taproom, you have a full view into the brewing area and the myriad tanks where they brew their many delicious beers. The huge chalkboard above the bar stretches almost to the ceiling and lets you know just which of those beers are currently available.
Speaking of the beer list, Ocelot takes the time to create incredible chalk artwork for each of their beers. Where some places are content to just scribble down the name of each beer and erase them when they’re finished, Ocelot spends a generous amount of time generating cool and unique artwork for each one. When even the tap list contributes to the awesome vibe of a venue, you know you’re someplace cool.
Turn your back on the tap list and bar and you’ll be greeted by Ocelot’s barrel wall, complete with Pink Floyd-esque artwork. It’s always cool to see breweries aging their beers right out in the open, and the number of barrels stacked against the wall is impressive. We tried a couple of casked beers while we were there, and I would definitely love the opportunity to come back and try a few more.
Past the barrel wall is a small outdoor area. Sadly, we were there in the middle of winter, so drinking beers outside wasn’t exactly an option. But I could definitely see it being a nice place to lounge about outside while you sip your drink. Fortunately, there are plenty of options indoors as well, as a handful of massive tables are set up around the taproom. There are also bar games, including darts, which we were only too happy to try our hand at (York managed to impale one dart on another, Robin Hood-style, which I have never seen happen in real life before. Chalk it up to drunk magic).
I’ve already touched on how impressed we were by Ocelot’s beers, but it’s worth noting that their presentation is outstanding as well. Flights come on solid wood boards that look almost fresh-cut, with the beers poured into neat little tasting-sized tulip glasses. Each beer is clearly labeled with a letter, and a dry-erase card is provided with the appropriate beer name next to each. Ocelot runs their taproom like a well oiled machine, and it’s very, very cool to see and enjoy.
Dogs: Yes! There were no dogs in the taproom while we were there, but Ocelot is known throughout the area for being pet friendly.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. I’m actually shocked at how affordable Ocelot is, given what a great space they have and how many amazing beers they have on tap at any given time. We tried every beer and came away with a handful of growlers, and I never felt like we were breaking the bank.
Food: No food, though I wouldn't be surprised to see a food truck or two parked outside every now and then.
Final Thoughts: I asked Pete and York if I could write this review because Ocelot was, hands down, my favorite stop on our trip. The space is amazing, the beers are delicious, and we enjoyed outstanding service the entire time we were there. Tasting every beer on the menu took a while, and we originally weren’t sure if we wanted to stick around and take the time to do it. Just two or three beers in, we knew we weren’t leaving. Ocelot is creative, well run, and just generally a blast to visit. Next time I’m in D.C., there is no question in my mind that I’ll be heading back to this brewery, and you should, too!
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