Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been writing on beer-related topics and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for over 15 years.
Written by Ken Carman
Last year I wrote about a trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where my wife’s family does a reunion every year. So Dogfish is familiar territory and always part of the plan. Last year we swung through Asheville. We wanted to stop by go to Wicked Weed.We wanted to addmore spice to the beer side of our journey, or maybe more “sour…” both in a grand way, and not so grand.
Great sours, but the GPS royally screwed us up when we tried to escape Asheville and get back on track to Rehoboth… adding more miles than necessary. This year, on the way, we went to Purcellville, Virginia because I had been doing research about Virginia breweries and discovered Adroit Theory. It did not disappoint.
Neither did Purcellville. A tiny hamlet, we were amazed there were four breweries, and especially one as unique as Adroit.
Adroit is in a warehouse. No classy set up here: it’s all about the beer. No waiters, no fancy seating, no nose in air “we make the REAL champagne of beers” pretense. But the brews were classy. What an incredible list of exotic brews. Caramel Macchiato Milk Stout anyone? The bottle labels are
Pretty much every brew had a barreled version, though I must admit we took home a bottle of their American Strong Armagnac barrel aged to Rehoboth and both of us decided it was just too much barrel for us, balance-wise…though certainly others may like it that way. They didn’t have it on tap so we took a chance. Oops. Oh, and we also got a growler of the milk stout: yum.
The brewery was hardly hidden behind the bar and the serving area.
Understand: we’re driving over 800 miles, plus diverting to Purcellville. Our time was limited. The good folks at Adroit recommended 690 Brewing. Apparently all the breweries here are collaborating and they were fond of their work with 690.
Off we went.
”You would NEVER know there’s a brewery down THAT road,” I said. We must have passed it by 2-3 times. Well, what I said might have been more like, “Down that dirt and stone road? No way in HELL!?”
Midst horses casually munching in scenic pastures, farms and casual country living there’s an even smaller dirt road that serves as the driveway to Old 690. 690 is by far more traditional than Adroit, but that’s like saying free form poetry is more traditional than abstract.
Their Chocolate Milk Stout was gentle, pleasing: exactly what one would expect. Their “Sweet Smokin” brew had just about the right background if one wishes only to have a hint of Rauch.
We couldn’t do all three, but decided for the last to go to Belly Love. Hey, a great name does bring in customers, sometimes! Belly was was downtown, what there was of “downtown.” I found their brewery odd: like a slightly bigger version of a super serious, big batch, homebrewer’s set up.
Belly Love’s selections were fewer than the other two, but very good. The Oatmeal Stout was exactly what one would would expect and a little more. We found their IPA: My Bitter Ex, to be bitter indeed, though a bit odd in that way. It could use less of a boil, perhaps, more late additions. The hops were more spice to the taste, yet classic three C’s to the nose, if I remember right: probably involving
late additions for the latter, early for the other.
Of course, while in Rehoboth, we had to stop at the Dogfish brewpub. We did the big brewery last year. We highly recommend the meatloaf sandwich: piled high with mash potatoes, meatloaf and topped with lightly fried, thin, onion rings. This open faced sandwich is way beyond crazily edible. They had their Palo Alto through a coffee filled randall… YUM! In my opinion superior to the regular Palo which I like less than some of their other brews. Chocolate Lobster Stout? PERFECT: like a unique version of an oyster stout including that salty sense you might get. They also had Mint Berry Crunch: a light, fruity affair that was supposed to be a Belgian Golden. My only critique: the rest was so grand the Strong kind of got lost. They don’t do growler with anything we wanted to take with… RATS.
On the way home, just before crossing into Tennessee, we stopped in Virginia at Damascus Brewery. Last year I think we drove right by it and then went back to the interstate. No surprise. Damascus is a tiny little place, down a windy, pretty, country two lane. It’s behind another business on an even tinier side road. Unlike what goes past 690 this one is paved… poorly. You really have to pay attention or you’ll miss.
Damascus was even more like a slight upgrade of a homebrewer’s set up. We adored both the Black IPA and a Honey Mango Shandy. We had that last one put in a can for my ever thirsty quaffers at The Beaver River (NY) Beer Tasting I do every Labor Day weekend.
We kind of wished that had been our “last one.” Their Beaver Rage IPA had a serious phenol problem. Even Millie admitted that. I’m super sensitive to it. Her: not so much, though I think I may have ruined her enjoyment factor when it comes to problematic brews because she has become more sensitive.
I mean, what else is marriage for if not to ruin each other’s enjoyment in such matters? After 42 years together, I kid. Sort of. Kind of. In a way.
OK, I’ll stop. See her below? I KNOW what that look means.
We told the server to mention it to the brewer.
We recommend all of them, but if you skip Adroit understand this: you really will have missed something; and that’s more than just some “theory.”
Brew Biz : Werts and All,` is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing, and commenting on, beer-related topics including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the brew business, and discussions regarding all things beer.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved