Our Board

We’re proud to have an extremely talented and multi-faceted Board of Directors, made up of people from all walks of life and specializing in all different lines of business.

Here are some of the friendly faces that help make decisions to better the Virginia Beer Museum!

David Downes, ESQ., Founder of the Virginia Beer Museum

When they say it cannot be done, most sane people will do something else. Instead, that only motivates me to prove everyone wrong. Born in Morgantown, West Virginia, I have dreamed of doing more than was expected of my humble origins. When a state road was planned through my bedroom, my family relocated to Virginia where I quickly acquired a passion for farming, culminating in my election as president of the local FFA Chapter. My interest in public speaking attracted me to the debate team at Wake Forest University and, subsequently, the moot court team at the University of Richmond Law School.

After graduation, I missed the country life so I began a thirty-year journey as a small town criminal defense attorney in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. After trying over three hundred jury trials, I wanted to combine my love for the community with my passions for history and a good craft beer. Thus, the idea of the Virginia Beer Museum was born on a cold winter’s night in 2016. I am currently sharing this journey with my lovely wife, Redz, my oldest son, Corporal Devon Downes, USMC, my ten-year-old twins Nate & Gayle, and my faithful Labrador Retriever, “Midas Carolus”, named after, of course, a beer.


Neil Burton

Neil Burton, the founder of Strangeways Brewing, has always had a penchant for exploring the unknown, especially when it comes to beer. As a result, he has found himself in some of the more peculiar corners of the world tasting as many unique beers as possible. What he discovered on his journeys is not of great importance. But what he returned with is—a profound passion for, and acute knowledge of, implausibly good beer.


Jason Connolly

After 15 years in the hospitality industry, Connolly decided to strike out on his own when he opened The 50/50 Taphouse at 29 West Cork St. in Winchester, VA. Offering 50 varieties of craft beer on tap, ranging from hoppy IPAs to dark porters and 50 variations of hamburgers, Connolly said his bar strikes a balance between offering good beer and good food without a pretentious atmosphere.



Christopher Dill

Christopher Dill is a self-proclaimed IT guru and web design wizard. He absolutely loves craft beer. When not brewing at home, he can normally be found sipping the best that RVA has to offer at establishments such as Triple Crossing, Lickinghole Creek, and The Veil. While still not a master-brewer, Chris is a master-consumer and most prefers the styles of IPA, Gose, Stout, and Porter. He has three beer-experts-in-training at home and a wonderful wife who also shares the love for craft beer.


John Flannery







John Lesko
“There is a tradition in my family where on a child’s first birthday, the parents place a bible, a dollar bill, and a bottle of beer 10 feet away from the child. The child is then allowed to crawl forward to select his or her future.” John Lesko is a professional leadership coach and team-builder. He moved to Front Royal and joined the board of trustees where he shares a religious zeal for helping others $ucceed in life. He enjoys the company of friends and family; hoping to break bread together, to share a laugh or two, and to enjoy a good craft beer at the Virginia Beer Museum. Prost!


Trevor Lipton







Howard Mannheimer







Dr. Kurt Pierce
While managing an orthodontics practice in Purcellville, Virginia, Dr. Pierce finds time to lend us a hand at the VBM. His practice is nestled right in the middle of the LoCo Ale Trail! Orthodontics and Sports are his passions. When I am not in the office, I am involved with the National Football League Players Association, former player’s chapter. This organization is made up of local former professional football players and is a continuation of the NFL Players Association that all pro football players are members of during their careers.


David Silek







Jon Silvester







Don Tweedie







Dewey Vaughan

The “King” of Front Royal serves as one of our historians with his endless knowledge of our town and the happenings in it. In addition to his vast historical knowledge, he is the lead singer of one of the most demanded bands across the area as well, The Shockers. He is a trivia whiz and a great asset to have on the board.