Archive for September, 2020

A low key and laidback tribute to the brewer’s art

In a perfect world, the first anniversary of a successful business calls for a big party. But all of us know it’s not a perfect world.

What is perfect is an opportunity to relax and taste a variety of hand-crafted beers at a safe indoor and outdoor venue with an expert guiding your taste buds.

During September and October, Barking Rose Brewing Company is welcoming guests to its 11-acre open and forested setting. It’s a 4,000 square-foot modern brew operation and taproom, with a variety of beers, many centered on Belgian ales and German lagers.

The scene of the party is 9057 Old Culpeper Road, a few miles south of Warrenton off Route 29.

“I was living in Alexandria when I opened my first brewery in Lorton eight years ago,” said owner-operator Matt Rose. “The only reason I opened a brewery is I simply wanted to make beer. I didn’t want to be an owner per se. About four years ago, I moved to Warrenton. But the daily commute to Lorton got to be too much.”

So, a year ago, Rose, 36, relocated his Lorton operation to Fauquier County, changed its name, and began pulling tap handles far from the crowed Northern Virginia scene. Here’s a guy who made a preempted move that lots of people are considering today.

There is a word that often drives a significant shift in careers: passion. In Rose’s case, it’s a passion gone wild. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2005 with a degree in aerospace engineering and worked for NASA for almost a decade.

But brewing was his first love. “Don’t get me wrong,” said Rose. “I still love satellites and space stuff. I’m a complete geek about it. But the higher up you go in the industry, the less actual aerospace work you do. It’s important work but it’s not what I liked as much.”

The brewery’s intriguing name is a blend of his last name and his wife’s maiden name of Barker. He suggested the brand Barking Rose to his wife, Ashley, who at first demurred. But upon reflection, said, “I like it.” His wife is a second lieutenant with the Fairfax County Police Department.

The logo for the suds factory is a red rose with an embedded hop flower.

Beer styles
As both an amateur and professional brewer, Rose developed a favored taste for Belgian ales and German lagers. “That’s my thing and always has been.” He does not have an assistant brewer, so he makes all the beer himself.

Currently, there are 15 different beers on tap. The number can range from a high of 18 with no less than 12 brews served six days a week. It’s closed on Mondays.

He has a least one India Pale Ale and a regular pale ale on tap, so beer hounds have a wide choice when contemplating a selection.

A sampling of a recent line up of taps included an East Coast IPA, Saison, American Pale Ale, Dortmunder Gold Lager, Dopplebock, and several Belgians, including a Blonde Ale, Imperial Wit, Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Imperial Spiced Honey Stout, and a Golden Strong.

Recently the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup festival awarded a third-place for his Belgian Blonde Ale and a second-place for the Dopplebock.

Guests can spread outside in good weather on umbrellaed picnic tables or wander over three acres of cleared land as they enjoy their social lubricants. Bringing food is permitted, and, on some Fridays and every Saturday and Sunday, food trucks are on-site to assuage hungry appetites.

Tasting flights of four beers go for $10 and pints are in the $6-8 range, depending on the specific beer. For take-home memories, 32- and 64-ounce growlers are available for $12 to $18.

Rose has found a centered life in brewing. “If you gave me a billion dollars do whatever I wanted because I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d still be brewing.” With the existing equipment he moved to the new brewery, finances are not an issue. “We are doing fine. COVID-19 is not going to kill us.”

His advice to beer lovers is, “Life is too short to drink bad beer. I love my life today. I get to do farm things and brew beer, and at the end of the day, I’ve got a lot of taps pouring great beer. It’s hard work, but I love it.”

Its Yelp rating is four and a half stars. A typical guest commented, “Great service and beer here. I came in on a random Saturday evening and stopped by to try it out and was very happy. Kudos for generous spacing outdoors for social distancing.”

Another guest opined, “I find Matt’s approach and philosophy to brewing one that resonates with my palate. He really understands nuance and flavor profiles. And on top of that, he is a super nice guy!”

For the complete story on this attractive and upcoming brewery, visit


Published in a September 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

What goes a round comes around

Posted on Sep 09 2020 | By

The Bike Stop catching serious traction

It’s a bittersweet reality. COVID-19 is producing winners and losers. From the surge in online shopping to the free fall of the airline industry the economic gods either smile or look askance at a given industry.

Often, it’s seemingly a roll of the dice on what side of the equation winners will emerge on. Take the humble bike shop. Its ubiquitous presence was taken for granted in the pre-pandemic world.

Today, customers are streaming into such shops to score a cycling machine that can free them from the lockdown. And if they are fortunate to own a bike already, they’re likely in need of some repairs since it’s probable it’s been ages since its seen heavy use.

A moment of portent for bike shops in Virginia came when the Governor deemed them essential businesses.

“The pandemic has completely changed the bike game,” said Bob Leftwich, 53, owner and operator of The Bike Stop located at 19 Main Street. “People are seeing and feeling the fun of this recreational sport. There are a ton more people today showing an interest in it.”

Leftwich explains that with gyms closed and reduced opportunities for exercise, “A lot of families are telling me spending time together biking rather than sitting at a computer or playing video games is great.

“I’ve been in the bike business for over three decades.  I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s been a huge, huge boon, in both the number of bikes we sold this year and the number of backorders. We have some people who recently purchased certain models who probably won’t see them until next April.”

A contributing factor to the delays is that many bike components are produced in Asia and China, which shut down just when demand was surging.

In addition to sales, the shop has seen a doubling of repairs as older machines are dragged out of basements and garages needing attention.

Leftwich thinks the industry has doubled in size since the early part of the year mirroring his own shop’s experience.

The good news is the economic benefit this small business owner is reaping. The bad news is he has worked almost seven days a week since March. A staff of five part-time employees help keep the shop spinning.

“Fortunately, we have not had to shut down. A lot of bike shops in other regions had to close because of the overwhelming demand.

Bona fides
It’s easy to understand how a crisis is a gift to some and a curse to others. But consider what might be perceived as a gift is actually experience striking while the spokes are hot.

Leftwich’s case represents 36 years of wrenches, bicycle chains, and endless cans of spray lube.

As a young lad of nine, he worked in his parent’s pet shop in Culpeper, learning the retail trade. But over time, his passion shifted from pets to pedals. Nonetheless, upon high school graduation, he considered attending college and pursuing a career in computers.

But the lure of running his own show had the stronger pull. There were few bike shops in the region at the time, and local enthusiasts would have travel to Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, or Fairfax to find a new two-wheeler or for repairs. He opened his first shop at the age of 18 on a part-time basis.

For 36 years, he built his business, first in Culpeper, and then expanding to Warrenton in 2010.

With his growing experience, he was given the opportunity to work the Ironman Triathlon circuit for a decade while simultaneously running his two bike shops. The circuit involved international travel, including Lake Placid, Austria, Brazil, Canada, and all of the North American races.

“Our group was the official mechanics to the Ironman. It involved making sure some 3,000 cyclists had mechanical service throughout the cycling portion of the race.

“It could be tense work. The competitors were always under pressure to resume riding as quickly as possible. Our team of five followed the athletes on our motorcycles and assisted them with all mechanical issues on race day.

He then spent time as the operations manager for Bikes for the World. The organization’s mission is to make affordable, and good quality used bicycles available to low-income people, primarily in developing countries.

The donated bikes provide better transport for work, education, and health care. It also generates additional skilled jobs in repair and maintenance overseas and offers environmental and humanitarian service opportunities for volunteers in the United States.

Leftwich has an ever-ready quote when asked about the role of bikes in today’s society. “The bicycle is a simple solution to our complex problems.

“Today, we are seeing people visiting the shop from far outside Fauquier County.” He attributes that to a trustworthy online store reputation. “We do our best to treat people right and stay on top of our business.”

For more information on sales, service, and rentals visit


Published in an August 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES