Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Search of Great Beer, Virginia edition

This weekend, I took my righteous journey in search of excellent craft beer to central Virginia.  

The results? I visited one brewery, two Capital Ale House locations, drank moderately but to great satisfaction, and returned home with a selection of promising brews; mostly local in origin.

My day began at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia.

Before visiting this brewery, I had only sampled one of Legend's variations, their take on the brown ale.  However, I had enjoyed their offering to the extent that I had sampled it with some regularity.  I had noted that Legend's brown ale was perhaps oxymoronic in nature; on one hand, it was a bit bland but, yet, on the other, there was something appealing that continuously beckoned me to return for more. 

With the positive experience of the brown ale as motivation, I had anticipated this brewery visit for some time. 

The Legend Brewing Company is located in a rather rough, industrial section of Richmond.  While the brewery's facade is met with warehouse row, the back patio offers this unexpected, but certainly impressive view:

During my visit, I had two beers.  I began with their Imperial IPA, which I had not seen previously offered outside of the brewery.

I noted that this brew was "spicy and thick.  Great taste, but would be better with some notes of pine.  Very powerful, yet enjoyable."

I then had their pale ale, which, as expected, tasted like a junior sibling of the first beer sampled.  Like the Imperial, this was also acceptable, although in the case of the pale ale, not particularly memorable. 

Overall, I enjoyed the beers offered by the Legend Brewing Company.  In this guru's not-so-humble opinion, their varieties are a bit less excellent than those offered by another Virginia brewery, Starr Hill.  Perhaps, this is less of a knock on Legend's quality than one may think; Starr Hill is stiff competition for the very best craft breweries. 

The beer at the Legend Brewing Company was satisfying, and as far as locations go for something like, say, a date, the brewery's patio (with its epic skyline view) would definitely make the visit worth the while.

I enjoyed my brief stay at Legend's and then continued to the Capital Ale House in Richmond; unbeknownst to me then, I would eventually end up at another Capital Ale House... in Midlothian, just outside Richmond.

Of the beers consumed, two stood out; one from each Capital Ale House location.  In Richmond, I enjoyed the Hardywood Double IPA, which is brewed locally at what seems to be Virginia's popular "brewery of the moment".

The influence of the Belgian Yeast in this offering was strong. I had commented that this massive brew seemed perhaps the product of a Saison/Tappist/IPA battle royale.

I noticed to my great appreciation that the Richmond location had Stone's Ruination on tap, along with other preferred offerings such Bell's Two-Hearted.  With restraint, I subdued my ambition to over imbibe!

At the Midlothian location, not far from Richmond itself, I was most impressed by a beer served from the cask: Victory Brewing's Hop Devil Ale

Of the two locations, both showcased deep and varied beer selections, but I felt more welcomed at the Midlothian Capital Ale House location.  The server working my end of the bar offered entertaining wit, an impressive knowledge of beer, and demonstrated established rapport with the locals, which I always appreciate. 

I made a final stop at the Total Wine in Richmond to choose a selection for later enjoyment.  As I entered, a beer-education class was concluding, and its leader was enthusiastic about helping me select what I am sure will be a great group of beers.

Some, like the Lagunitas and Founders, are dependable stand-bys. 

So, I wish you all "cheers!"  I promise a big update in the coming weeks as Saturday, August 25th is Virginia's Craft Brewers Fest!  My ticket, as you can imagine, is already purchased. 

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