|Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries|
Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail
Virginia’s newest beer trail invites visitors to explore the commonwealth’s great outdoors and enjoy great beer, too. As of May 16, 2016, the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is official, incorporating 12 breweries in the Shenandoah Valley, reaching from Harrisonburg in the north down through Staunton and Waynesboro to Lexington.
For a short time, this will be both America’s and Virginia’s newest craft beer trail.
“Come tap into that authenticity you crave,” invites the trail’s promotional materials. “Real fields and farms. Pristine waters. Endless mountain views. Hiking trails. Farmers’ markets. Mountain biking. Music festivals. Fascinating small cities. And local characters. We’re all that and more. Wherever your adventures take you, we’ve got a brewery nearby to quench your thirst. Refresh yourself on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.”
Breweries are friendly places to visit, providing opportunities to enjoy the beer as well as to relax and chat with friends and new acquaintances. Taprooms often host food trucks or other food options, and a few offer a full menu or local snacks or encourage guests to bring food in. Many host live music events, offer growler fills, and are kid- and dog-friendly.
The twelve Shenandoah Beerwerks breweries as of the trail’s beginning are:
Brothers Brewing, Harrisonburg
Pale Fire, Harrisonburg
Three Notch’d, Harrisonburg
Wolfe Street, Harrisonburg
Queen City Brewing, Staunton
Redbeard Brewing, Staunton
Shenandoah Valley Brewing, Staunton
Basic City Beer, Waynesboro
Seven Arrows Brewing, Waynesboro
Stable Craft Brewing, Waynesboro (the newest brewery on the list)
Blue Lab Brewing, Lexington
Devils Backbone Outpost, Lexington
Besides providing a convenient way for locals and tourists to explore an area’s breweries, beer trails provide efficient and effective tourism hooks, attracting visitors, who spend their money not just on the breweries’ products but on lodging, food and recreation. This trail in Virginia’s mountains is a cooperative effort of Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro Tourism; Harrisonburg Tourism; and Lexington & The Rockbridge Area Tourism.
To learn more and follow the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail on social media:
Just in time for the warm weather...
That will allegedly be here soon...
Virginia's Starr Hill Brewery has released two new seasonals that pair perfectly with warm weather, The Hook Grapefruit Session IPA and Sublime Citrus Wit.
The Hook begins with a carefully chosen malt bill of 2-row, crystal and honey plus golden oats, and uses four hops: Apollo, Citra, Mosaic and Sorachi Ace. The sessionable 4.9% ABV and the light but pleasing taste makes this perfect for a warm day - even when fishing with your hook by the river (or, like me, watching someone else fish). The Hook is hoppy yet with malty notes. It's a medium amber color, with a gentle, light head and hoppy IPA on the nose. The flavor is mild but generous. The Hook sips smooth on the palate. At 38 IBUs, it's not off-putting to those who are turned off by hop bombs.
Starr Hill's Sublime Citrus Wit pour a golden yellow, with a light white head and spicy nose. The recipe is simple and the beer reflects the clean simplicity: 2-row malted barley and wheat, with Saaz hops plus lime and lemon zest. The flavor on my palate was dominated by the malt, with the spices and wheat quickly making their gleeful appearance. The limey-citrus flavor is also apparent and is complementary and quite pleasant, like a lightly squeezed fresh wedge has been added to the glass. The beer is light in flavor and of a sessionable ABV (4.7%) and would be perfect with grilled herbed chicken on a warm summer evening. Actually, it went marvelously with the herbed lime chicken I prepared in my slow cooker!
Pickle Lovers Unite! The Artisan Pickle Club is hosting Pickled & Fermented - a celebration of all things pickled and fermented! We're talking more than pickled cucumbers here - they don't discriminate when it comes to pickled things. Pickled fruit, pickled veggies, hot sauce, kimchi, beer, Kombucha – if it's pickled or fermented, we're celebrating it!
Join them at Center of the Universe Brewing Company for a day of pickle tastings, live music from Ashland's Buckeville Hootenany, a pickle themed beer and loads of pickle shenanigans! They will also be hosting the very first Best Pickle Competition and are taking entries from Richmond Restaurants and home picklers.
Sweet Pickles- fruits, vegetables, bread & butter
Savory Pickle-fruits, vegetables & dill pickled savory edibles
Relishes - Chow-Chow, Pickle Relish, Chutney, Picalilli
Cabbage-kimchi & sauerkraut
Drinkable Ferments- kombucha, shrubs & kefir (sorry no alcohol allowed)
The pickle panel of judges for includes: Ashley Ray and Larkin Garbee of Artisan Pickle Club, Abbie Toner of Eat Smart, Karen Grisevich of GrowRVA, Stephanie Ganz of RVA News, and Brandon Fox of Style Weekly.
Anyone interested in attending and/or entering the pickle competitions can find out more at www.artisanpickles.com.
Renewing a Favorite Relationship
You know how sometime it’s important to get away with family or the significant other to spend quality time together, to reaffirm what’s best about your relationship? Such was my experience on April 20, 2016 – but with a three-year-old Virginia brewery that, perhaps, I had been taking for granted.
On April 20, I attended a beer dinner at Brothers Craft Brewing in Harrisonburg, Virginia, pairing six beers with six courses from top Harrisonburg chefs.
So certainly I’m familiar with Brothers. I’ve enjoyed many of their beers since they opened as Three Brothers over three years ago, including The Great Outdoors, Hoptimization and Good Adweiss, not to mention popular beers such as Resolute, Atramentous and Daylight Cravings. I’ve enjoyed all, from the flagships to the limited-release beers.
At the dinner, however, I was reminded of the benefits of partaking of beers at a brewery – not just the freshness, but the range of choices that typically escape one at bars, restaurants and bottle shops. Add to that the food from two Harrisonburg farm-to-table restaurants and appreciation multiplied.
Lest you think of Harrisonburg as a little Podunk college town, you should know that its location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley puts it close to amazing farms – that its population of Mennonite residents has supported a culture of peace, service and sustainability even before it was a thing – and that Harrisonburg’s downtown claims to be the first designated Arts & Cultural District and the first Culinary District in Virginia.
So the contributions from the restaurants undoubtedly added to the aura of the evening.
Chef Brian Bogan brought his culinary skills from Joshua Wilton House (also a classic, elegant and relaxing downtown Harrisonburg inn). Joshua Wilton House restaurant boasts a “unique Refined-Virginian menu – creatively contouring to seasonally fresh, local products.”
The April 20 menu put Chef Bogan’s Virginia blue crab salad slider (filler? What’s that?) with Brothers’ Dalliance tart saison – a nice contrast of mild fresh seafood taste with the tart spicy notes of the saison (see image above). Another Joshua Wilton House course presented the lamb BLT (twice-cooked lamb bacon with sweet potato brioche and Great Outdoors whole grain aioli) with Brothers Brown Out – the nuttiness of the beer toasted the roasty-fresh flavors of the lamb bacon. Another course paired Chef Bogan’s pork belly with cucumber kimchee on house-made steamed buns with Atramentous – the tart kimchee played quite nicely with the sour cherry, Brett and lactobacillus in the beer (see image below)!
The other three courses were prepared by Chef Jakob Napotnik of Local Chop and Grill House, which prepares “creative meals with locally sourced products from our neighbors.” The restaurant's web site continues, saying, “We are dedicated to supporting local artists, craftsmen, family farms and vendors—bringing you the best of what the Shenandoah Valley has to offer.” So, yeah, proof that Harrisonburg has locavore dining in the bag.
Chef Napotnik presented sauerbraten and hopped sauerkraut with Better Times Bock – the richness of the German-style meat with the smooth, clean and biscuity tastes of a classic German-style beer. The next Local course paired smoked sausage taco with Scarlet Empire imperial red ale – not only did the food and drink dance in step like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the tastes of caramel malts and Galena hop danced in perfect harmony as well.
The final course of the evening presented a Local dish with Resolute. As Virginia beer fans know, Resolute is one of the commonwealth’s favorite beers, pulling in long lines for its annual release. Chef Napotnik surprised me by not pairing the big bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout with a dessert but with a charred mushroom stuffed with roasted chilies and a Resolute mole sauce. The rich, sensuous, savory flavors were marvelously compatible with the Brothers beer.
At the dinner, menu descriptions promoted the local farm ingredients as well as the dish descriptions. All I can say is, be sure to visit these Harrisonburg restaurants to learn about and experience fresh foods of Shenandoah farms for yourself. And while you’re there, stop in at Brothers Craft Brewing, to appreciate the range of the craft brewery’s beers and to take home bottles of their limited-release brews.
You’ll come home renewed and reinvigorated – like the best of your family vacations.
It's back, and better than ever!
Ardent Craft Ales presents its 2nd annual Swine & Brine on Friday, April 22 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the brewery. The over-the-top outdoor food and beer festival is even bigger this year with cooking from The Roosevelt, Metzger Bar & Butchery, ZZQ, Saison, Sabai and Amuse. Chefs from each eatery will be smoking and grilling a killer line-up of pork dishes and their own homemade sides. Plus, Rappahannock Oyster Co. will join the festivities with steamed and roasted oysters, as well as fresh crab cakes.
And, of course, there's beer – 14 special Ardent beers, to be exact:
Cost is only $20 per person, which includes three tickets redeemable for food or beer, as well as a limited edition Ardent Craft Ales bandanna. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the event for $5 each. Must be 21 or older to attend and ID is required upon entry. All food items are 1 ticket (with the exception of a few larger portion items).
Come on! Make a pig of yourself!