Secrets of the Brewmasters

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 7th, 2014

Virginia has had a long love affair with beer; it’s been enjoyed here since 1607 and we even have a recipe from George Washington for his brew.

From Ales to Vienna Lagers and everything in between, dozens of breweries across the state help quench our thirst for quality quaffs.

If that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, here is another: August is officially Virginia Craft Beer Month, and many breweries, restaurants and bars have special events and other offerings to raise a glass to.

It’s no secret that it’s a great time now – as well as the whole year through – to enjoy a Virginia craft beer, but there are a few insider tips for making the most of the sips, and we spoke with five brewmasters to learn a few.

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Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
4100 Knolls Point Dr., Goochland
804-314-4380

Farris Loutfi of Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Farris Loutfi of Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Brewery Opened: 2013

Brewery Offers: 6 regular beers; 10 seasonal beers

Signature Brew: Three Chopt Tripel is a non-stopped-hopped version of a European Classic.  What I like about it is the fantastic combination of citrus, spice and honey notes the beer has.  It is also remarkably refreshing and drinkable despite it’s high ABV of 9.3 percent.

Tours/Tastings Offered: Open Wednesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to sunset and Saturday and Sunday, noon to sunset.

From Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, Chief Beer Officer:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

The quality of Virginia craft beer is second to none, [and the] breweries themselves are fantastic destinations to visit and bring out of town guests. Craft beer gives a sense of regional identity to a place and gives those who live in the area something they can take personal pride in.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

Virginia craft breweries focus on quality in every aspect of their business.  We create unique beers and serve them in a fantastic setting.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

The best way is to try and have a clean palate between tastings and to take notes [that includes the] brewery name, beer name, beer type, general descriptors and some type of rating system.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Batchleors Delight Rum Barrel Aged Belgian-style Quadrupel Ale paired with roasted lamb and Three Chopt Tripel with fresh scallops.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Two beer releases: Creator German-Style Doppelbock on Aug. 9 and Rosemary Saison, made from rosemary on the farm, on Aug. 16.

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Lost Rhino Brewing Co.
21730 Red Rum Dr. #142, Ashburn
571-291-2083

Lost Rhino Brewing Company. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Lost Rhino Brewing Company. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Brewery Opened: 2011

Brewery Offers: 5 year-round beers; 4 seasonal beers; up to 12 beers on tap in tasting room

Signature Brew: Face Plant IPA, a strong malty backbone, pleasant grapefruit bitterness, great herbal hop flavor and delicate floral hop aroma

Tours/Tastings Offered: The tasting room is open Tuesday-Sunday afternoons; tours are on Saturdays

From Favio Garcia, co-founder and Director of Brewing Operations:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Overall there is a growing appreciation of small business and local craft. In our increasing homogenized world many are looking for a unique experience, be it food, drink or art.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

Without a doubt the variety of styles. Virginia breweries are producing a wide array of different styles from crisp lager to wild ales and doing them well.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

If you have the time and inclination start up a conversation with a regular, they will steer you to the must try of week.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Face Plant IPA – I think our India Pale Ale goes great with any grilled foods, especially seafood.

Woody Stout- This bourbon barrel-aged stout as you can imagine goes very well a chocolate desert, but it very fun to pair strong cheeses with this roasty sweet beauty.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Lost Rhino will be releasing Native Son, our all-Virginia Beer. Every ingredient in this beer is from the commonwealth.

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Redbeard Brewing Company
129 S. Lewis St., Staunton
804-641-9340

Brewery Opened:  2013

Brewery Offers:  3-4 flagship beers, 3-4 seasonal beers; 6-8 beers usually on tap

Signature Brew: Black Rye IPA – it combines the roastiness and body of a dry stout with the hop-forward aroma and finish of an IPA.

Tours/Tastings Offered:  The taproom is open Fridays, 4-11 p.m., Saturdays, noon-11 p.m., and Sundays, 1-11 p.m.

From Jonathan Wright, founder and brewer:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

[It] is due primarily to the passage of [a bill allowing] breweries to sell their product in an on-site tasting/taproom. Small breweries such as Redbeard [can] focus on clientele and [create] a solid portfolio of quality offerings without the need to distribute all of our product to wholesalers at low margins.

What are some craft beer trends you see?

The revival and Americanization of Old World styles like sour beers, and the expansion of the lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) “session” segment of the market.

Sour beers of various type are extremely en vogue, [ranging] from a light tartness [to] the sourest thing on earth.

The lower ABV beers that are in fashion are a great way to enjoy the act of drinking, without getting drunk.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

Know what you’re getting into, do your homework, make sure they’re open the day you will visit, make sure the beer styles they typically offer are up your alley.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Drink what you think you’ll like, eat what you think you’ll like.  Be adventurous once you’ve had your fill of those to expand and educate your palate.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

There’s a new beer to try and new friends to make any time you visit, any time of the year.

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Roanoke Railhouse Brewing Co.
3106 Franklin Rd., Roanoke
540-293-2423

Brewery Opened: 2009

Brewery Offers: 3 regular beers; 4 seasonal beers

Signature Brew: Track 1 Amber Lager was created to produce the flavor profile identified by the focus group research conducted for us by Martin Research. Track 1 is robust in a subtle manor with the emphases on malt.  It is a true,” Session” beer with low after taste and a silky smooth mouth feel.

Tours/Tastings Offered: Wednesday through Friday, 5-9:30 p.m., Saturday, 2-7:30 p.m., Sunday, 3-6 p.m.

From Steve Davidson, president:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Recent [laws] allowing breweries [that permit] on premise sales.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

The craft beer industry is not just about alcohol sales. We are creating jobs that spread throughout the commonwealth. Transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and one of the most important aspects of the state economy, tourism are all positively affected by craft beer

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

We hope to celebrate by reopening [in our new location.]

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The St. George Brewing Co.
204 Challenger Way, Hampton
757-865-7781

The St. George Brewing Company

The St. George Brewing Company

Brewery Opened: 1996

Brewery Offers:  11 regular: 5 traditional ales and lagers, 4 imperial styles and 2 hybrids; 6 seasonal

Signature Brew: St. George IPA, a classic, English-style India Pale Ale full-flavored beer, easy drinking without overwhelming the taste palate.

Tours/Tastings Offered:  Retail sales are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From Andy Rathmann, brewmaster:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Virginia has seen quite a few microbreweries since they came on the scene in the late 1970′s. The Chesapeake Brewing Co in Norfolk was the first in Virginia and Legends Brewing Co in Richmond being the oldest existing microbrewery.

The recent spurt follows a trend that has been taking the whole country by storm and has been helped in no small part by the passage of a new Virginia law which allows brewery tasting rooms to sell for on-site consumption of their beer.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

The bigger difference, I believe, is really brewery to brewery, regardless of what part of the country they are located.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

[In general] start with beers that won’t ruin your taste buds too quickly and then work your way, brewery to brewery, up to the more extreme types.

[At a festival] pick a specific style and them sample each breweries offerings of that style for comparison. Get in the longest line you find because they will be the most trending and most likely run out soonest.

Oh yeah, and bring a designated driver

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

St George Golden Ale has a tart citrus note that tends to cut thru any spicy greasy food, think wings or pizza

St George Porter with it’s rich chocolate and coffee notes goes with any type of chocolate.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Personally I’m celebrating by having a different Virginia beer every day. The brewery has several events on tap.

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Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

 

 

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One Comment

Katrina says:

Excellent post! Lickinghole Creek is right up the road from me, but I have not yet visited. After reading your post, I have a little more motivation to do so! Our celebration of craft beer month began with our visit to Midnight Brewery in Rockville, VA, this past Saturday: http://justathriftygypsy.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-midday-brew-at-midnight-brewery.html