Ardent's 2017 Growth Announcement

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

ardent_beer_dinner_settingThe news may not be apparent to the casual observer, like an ale experiencing secondary fermentation in the bottle or cask. But it's big.

Ardent Craft Ales has announced the purchase of their brewery building and property located in the Scott's Addition neighborhood of Richmond – yes, the same property where you've been enjoying their beers since they opened this location in June 2014.

The Ardent team bought the 1940s storage and warehouse building from local developer Scott Coleman of Crossroads Development, who originally partnered with the brewery in 2013 to renovate the property. The sale allows Ardent to proceed with a brewery expansion to support wider distribution, which is expected to begin later this year.

"We are active members of the Scott's Addition community and deeply committed its history and future. Our decision signifies our intent to remain here long-term and to engage in the neighborhood in a more meaningful way," said Tom Sullivan, co-owner and director of operations at Ardent.  

The sale of Ardent's 25,875 square foot property includes the 9,100 square foot taproom and brewery building and a 2,000 square foot of beer garden.


Starr Hill's Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Starr Hill Double BassIt's Valentine's Day in a bottle. And if you don't have a significant other who will appreciate this rich, chocolatey Starr Hill stout, then just treat yourself!

A part of Starr Hill's All Access program, Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout is available January through March. The deep brown ale smells smooth (don't ask me how smooth smells – pick up a bottle and see for yourself). The nose presents a touch of coffee, malts and alcohol.

The taste pops immediately with chocolate, followed up by a bittersweet chocolate caressing of the tongue. The initial flavors give way to vanilla undertone and malty goodness. The mouthfeel is full and smooth, with just enough tingle.

And at 7.8% ABV, the beer offers an immediate relaxing effect without sedating you.

Double Bass is brewed with a malt bill of Maris Otter, chocolate, crystal and Carafa II plus golden oats to give it the smooth body. Hops are appropriately subtle: Apollo (assumedly for the bittering effect of dark chocolate) and British hops East Kent and Goldings. Flavor adjuncts are cocoa power, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and lactose.

Virginia-based Starr Hill Brewery recommends several pairings for this beer: hoisin-glazed baby back ribs, aged goat cheese or gouda, or a raspberry chocolate tart. I'd love to pair this with a creamy cheesecake, to provide complements in the richness and gratifying contrasts in the flavors.

Starr Hill Brewery currently distributes in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C. (use the beer finder for more specifics). Or stop by the brewery at 5391 Three Notched Road in Crozet, Virginia. 


Hardywood's Membership Club

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Family_Tree_Guaranteed_BeersOccasionally, I'll receive news that I don't want to share. You know, like the favorite fishing hole or solitary waterfall hike – those secrets that are better when few know about them. When it comes to beer news that others really should know, though, I let professional integrity overcome selfish intent. (Damn integrity!)

Such is the case with Hardywood's Family Tree Beer Club. At noon on Jan. 18, 2017, limited membership enrollment opens that allows you to get the best of the Hardywood beers – without waiting in the wee-cold hours of the morning, in long lines, while wondering if you've come early enough!

Hardywood Family Tree membership includes:

  • 4 curated seasonal packages, each containing 3 bottles sought-after Hardywood beers and an exclusive member gift
  • Titanium membership card/bottle opener, designed by Richmond’s Machine Era
  • Members-only events
  • Limited beers bottled exclusively for members
  • Merchandise discounts at the brewery
  • Additional surprises

To make the score even better:

Packages will be available for pick-up at the Richmond brewery in February, May, August and November. Packages may be picked up by a proxy for those who are out of the area. Over the course of the year, packages are guaranteed to include Ruse, Foolery, Trickery, Cassowary, Gingerbread Stout and Kentucky Christmas Morning. The first package, available Feb. 4, will include the membership card, two bottles of Kentucky Christmas Morning and one bottle of Ruse.

So set your alarm for noon on Jan. 18! (Or perhaps I should say, set your alarm for 12:01 p.m., to ensure that I get in first!)

For further details and sign-up, visit the Hardywood Family Tree web page.



Starr Hill's Warm Up Winter Ale

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

StarrHill_WarmUpUpon my first whiff of Starr Hill's Warm Up Winter Ale, I'm transported to a cold winter evening, a blanket over my lap and a book in hand, dog snoozing by my side and a fire in the fireplace.

But I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

Though the beer pours with only a moderate head, the mouthfeel – I discover later – offers plenty of smooth bubbly. In the glass, the beer is a rich mahogany color with ruby-red undertones, nicely clear. The nose immediately speaks of winter spices, most strongly of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Upon the first sip, my palate notes the spices right away – again the cinnamon and nutmeg predominate – followed by some toasty malts. The progression continues nicely, as a touch of sweet and vanilla take a bow at the end of each sip.

The Starr Hill beer is made with 2-row, crystal and Munich malts and golden oats, Willamette hops, and special additions of cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg and vanilla. The cocoa seems to be the lightest of the flavors (perhaps because I'm accustomed to beers that celebrate chocolate like a tacky lights tour celebrates the holidays).

This beer appears on the brewery's Heavy Rotation list, a series that rotates four times a year, available in six-packs and on draft. Starr Hill Brewery currently distributes in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C. (use the beer finder for more specifics). Or you can stop by the brewery at 5391 Three Notched Road in Crozet, Virginia. 

For its 6.1% ABV, Starr Hill's Warm Up Winter Ale packs in plenty of flavor. Recommended pairings are malt-glazed roast turkey, gouda cheese and snickerdoodle cookies. But I'm happy just to let the ale warm up by insides all by itself. No need for complications when simplicity will work.


Toast Virginia’s Apples During Cider Week

Tickle the Tastebuds - Wines & Wineries

The multiple personalities of Virginia cidermakers come as no surprise. As producers of the commonwealth’s early alcoholic beverage, they have much history to celebrate, while as participants in the contemporary culinary and local craft movements, they draw inspiration from novelty and innovation.

Virginia provides a natural home for craft cideries, with climate and geography that support healthy orchards. As a major apple-producing state, we rank sixth in the country in apple production. Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office reports that more than 416,750 cases of Virginia cider were sold during fiscal year 2016, up approximately 52 percent from 2015. Some of our cideries grow their own apples, beginning with existing orchards and/or planting new trees, while others have apples or juice shipped to their facilities.

If early experiences with hard cider left a bad taste in your mouth, consider that contemporary craft ciders come in a range of styles to suit almost every palate.

CiderWeek2016_PloughmansFeast_SQYou can read more about Virginia cider in the October-November issue of Boomer Magazine and on the Boomer website. You can also sample the fruits of the state's creative cider makers Nov. 11-20, 2016. Special events throughout Virginia Cider Week 2016 showcase this budding industry in a variety of events – fun, educational and delicious.

Highlights include:

Cider and chef’s specialty pairing dinners

Cider Maker Dinner

Saturday, Nov. 12 at Courthouse Creek Cider. A five course dinner prepared by guest Chef Michael D'Aquanni paired with the creations of this Goochland cidery.

Ploughman’s Feast 

Sunday, Nov. 13, 3-7 p.m. at Blue Bee Cider’s new Summit Stables location in Scotts Addition, featuring a roving menu inspired by classic “working” fare and prepared by top Richmond chefs: Dutch & Co., Stroops, Stock Provisions and Twenty Paces cheeses. Besides ciders from Blue Bee, guests can also enjoy ciders from Albemarle CiderWorks, Potter’s Craft Cider and Foggy Ridge Cider. Also featuring blacksmith and forging demos and product sales (from Blanc Creatives) and products from Paisley & Jade and Gather Home and Garden as well as music by the Mikrowaves. $35 includes food. Cider sold separately.

Buskey Cider dinner at Blue Goat

Monday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m. – Buskey’s first cider dinner pairs five courses created specifically for five Buskey ciders. $55 + tax & gratuity. 

Potter’s Cider dinner at Southbound

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. – five-course dinner with five ciders includes a cask-conditioned pin of Oak Barrel Reserve with cinnamon and vanilla for dessert. $50. Call (804) 918-5431 for reservations $50.

Weeklong opportunities

Potter’s Cider and Ham Flights at Comfort

Three Potter’s Craft ciders paired with three varieties of country ham, hand-selected by chef Jason Alley at Comfort. Monday–Thursday: 5-10; Friday–Saturday: 5-11; Sunday brunch: 11-4. 

Foggy Ridge Cider aperitif pairing at Heritage

A sparkling cider cocktail and a small bite from Chef Joe Sparatta to kick off a phenomenal meal at Heritage.

Other special events include 

Home Cider Making Workshop at Blue Bee

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6-7:30 p.m. – Blue Bee Cider and Original Gravity Homebrew Supplies host a home cider making workshop, led by Blue Bee’s cellar team. Learn about evaluating juice, making additions before fermentation, monitoring progress during fermentation and options for customizing your cider before bottling. Workshop fee of $30 includes one gallon of juice, carboy with airlock, yeast, yeast nutrient, lab flask, and funnel. 

  • Buskey cocktails at Fat Dragon
  • Sugar Shack gluten-free donuts made with Buskey Cider paired with Buskey ciders. At Buskey Cider.
  • Cider brunch at Lucy’s Restaurant
  • Steal the Glass and Blue Bee cider / dessert pairings at Shyndigz
  • Meet The Cidermaker with Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge at Shagbark
  • Thai Ginger and Honey Cider pin infused with kaffir lime, galangal, lemongrass and Thai chili peppers. Other ciders on tap and a cider cocktail. At Sabai
  • Three-course dinner available by the table with Potter’s Craft ciders and cheese from 20 Paces. At Acadia Midtown 
  • A cask-conditioned pin of Potter’s Craft Cider Blackberry Brett cider, a keg of Farmhouse Saison and pouring bottles of Ryesap. At The Cask Café 
  • Foggy Ridge cider flights at Richmond’s new Shagbark restaurant.

For more information and statewide events, visit the Cider Week website


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