After parting ways with the Hillers, we headed over to Hopkins Ordinary Ale Works. If ever there was a place that reminded me of "the pub" (aka Selin's Grove), it might be this place; not necessarily for the beers, but rather for the ambiance, surroundings, and people. Steeped in local lore, you can read all about the building's history here, but the gist of it is this: The original building was constructed in 1820 (or thereabouts) by John Hopkins and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Of course, there was a tavern in the basement (see... just like the pub)! The folks at Hopkins also operate a Bed & Breakfast, which probably comes in handy to beer travelers who get lost in conversation with fellow patrons only to find themselves about five or six beers deep. Luckily, these people only need to walk a few feet to rest their spinning heads.
|Outside Hopkins Ordinary Ale Works.|
The main bar area was narrow and tight, and packed with thirsty patrons. I finally squeezed by a few folks and came across a beer list. Right off the bat, I noticed a smoked beer. This particular offering, Mary's Rauch, features local apple- and cherry-smoked malt from Copper Fox Distillery. "Gotta get this!" I thought. Upon my first sip, it came across as an entry level smoked beer with a hint of smoke and a sweet, fruity, malty backbone. I'm all for approachable smoked beers if it means more people will try them and - God forbid - actually like them! This one wasn't bad at all.
Since the bar area was so crowded and boomy, we opted to sit outside in the garden area, as the weather was unseasonably warm for late March. Right away, we started conversing with everyone sitting outside, including a mother-daughter pair spending a birthday weekend together, and a group of middle-aged folks staying at the adjoining B&B (who, if memory serves me correctly, were in town for a class reunion). Time soon began to slip away as we got lost in conversation with the patrons. However, it was time for another beer, so back into the bar area I headed.
Up next, I delved into the White Oak Winter Ale. Even though we were at the start of springtime, I couldn't resist trying this winter warmer brewed with fresh ginger, cinnamon, honey, orange peel, and roasted malts. Dark and soothing, this was a tasty winter seasonal with a pretty balanced combination of flavors. This one may have been my favorite of the bunch, despite it was more of a cool spring evening rather than a chilly winter's night.
By this time, we were waist deep into conversation with the group of middle-aged folks who were staying at the B&B. Geez, I say middle-aged like we're not middle-aged. Fuck, at 45 I'm probably over middle-aged; I'd be lucky to live until I'm 90, right? But who knows how medicine will progress over the next few decades. I guess I'll keep working out and drinkin' my Tussin!
After a while, I was starting to get a hankering for something barrel-aged, and Pass Mountain Imperial Porter was calling my name. The beer, a Baltic Porter aged in whisky barrels for six months, sounded like it'd do the trick. While it wasn't amazing, it was a pleasantly rich, dark and boozy beer with hints of anise and chocolate.
Although I didn't need another beer, I decided to close out with Inkeeper's IPA, a moderately hoppy East Coast-style IPA hopped with a combo of Centennial, Citra, and Cascade to provide an ample wash of citrus fruit. We ended up spending quite a bit of time at Hopkins, making it to last call. We were all pretty shellacked by now, anyway, so it was time to head back to Old Rag for some final imbibement. (I'm not sure if that's even a word, but it sounds cool.)
Deuane provided the next two, Who Need Galaxy? from Southern Grist and V. Fudge with Strawberries: Olive & Sinclair by Bearded Iris, two breweries that were new to me. Both were enjoyable, to say the least. The former was a thick, sticky DIPA with loads of tropical fruit, while the latter was (as the name implies) a decadent fudgy treat with a very pronounced strawberry finish. It reminded me of a milkshake.
We closed out the night with a double dose of Night Shift cans we brought back from Boston the weekend before: Night Fever and Stout's Honor. Feel free to refer back to the Boston blog for details about these two decadent treats.
|Old Rag weekend spread.|
The next morning, I actually got up first and (out of boredom and the fact that I didn't know how to work the coffee pot) washed the dishes from the previous day. Deuane soon lumbered downstairs with the girls following shortly after that. Following breakfast, we packed up our belongings and bid a fond farewell to Old Rag Cabin.
First on the agenda for Sunday was a visit to Hawksbill Brewing. We arrived in Luray, VA (where the brewery is situated), about half an hour before the brewery opened for the day, so we took a stroll through the quaint downtown area. I couldn't help but think of Patton Oswalt's bit about a "Chapstick entering the Luray Caverns" to illustrate an elderly couple practicing the act of coitus. As a result of this bit of comedy, I'd often wondered where the Luray Caverns were housed. Turns out in Luray, VA.
But back to Hawksbill. We circled back after our stroll through town and set up shop at the bar. Inside and out, the place isn't much to look at. The name of the brewery is painted white on the side of the plain brick red building. The inside was adorned with wood paneling and a long bar overlooking the modest brewing area.
I eased into our visit because, after all, we'd experienced quite a productive day on Saturday, and we had a solid three-hour drive to get home later in the day. With this in mind, I opted for a pour of Hawksbill Hopped Pale Ale, a single-hopped American pale brewed with honey malt and locally grown Cascade hops. Simple, tasty and easy-drinking is how'd I'd describe it. It was kind of boomy inside and hard to talk to each other since we were sitting in a straight line at the bar, so I started chatting when I overheard (or rather thought I overheard) the couple next to me open a tab under the name Hoffman (the same surname as Deuane). Turns out it was, I believe, Kaufman. The pair were stopping in for a beer before setting off on either a bike ride or hike. Either way, it was something outdoorsy.
Brewslut and I split a pour of the somewhat scandalously named Cock Your Doodle Doo, a nitro coffee stout. I couldn't find any additional details on the beer, including the type of coffee used, etc. It was pretty solid overall but nothing extraordinary. Meanwhile, the owner had since come in and was talking about Pontiak, the band featuring the guys from Pen Druid, and played a few songs (which was a welcome change of pace from the country music being played for the previous hour). Overall, it was a pleasant visit with a few solid beers, but by now it was time to bid adieu to Luray and head about forty minutes north to the town of Woodstock, VA.
After a fairly slow drive which took us along winding roads up and down the Blue Ridge Mountains, we arrived in Woodstock, hungry and ready for some lunch. We pulled into town just around the same time a power outage had affected the entire town. The restaurant we'd planned to visit was actually closed as a result of the outage, so we were forced to head around the corner to Woodstock Brewhouse. Deuane had originally asked if we wanted to stop there to cross it off the list, but mentioned that it wasn't anything special. So out of desperation, we ended up stopping in for lunch and a few beers.
Inside, the place had a sort of Appalachian brewpub vibe with a big open floor plan and high ceilings. Service is cafeteria style, which I don't mind. However, we had to use the restroom when we arrived, and from the time we entered the building to the time we finished micturating (~ 2 minutes), the line went from 2 people to about 12. Apparently, the power outage forced other people to flock to Woodstock as well. Then, for some reason, about eight of the people just decided to leave. "Cool," I thought. "Now I'll get my food more quickly." The menu was basic and pretty limited (especially due to the power outage), but there was plenty of beer flowing. Deuane gave thumbs up to the Carpet Bagger, a NE-style IPA, so I followed suit and ordered one as well. It was fine, although nothing special. Woodstock would be a one-and-done stop for me, as I was saving myself for our next stop, a rare departure from our usual beer trail plans - a distillery.
We ended the day with a visit to Filibuster Distillery, which included a brief tour with the owner. I was definitely on board with this, as I've really been getting into bourbon for about the last six months or so. It's also nice to be able to sip an ounce or two of bourbon on a weeknight rather than be subject to the empty calories and carbs of a full beer. After all, I gotta watch that girlish figure, kiddos! But back to Filibuster. For $25, the tour also included a flight of the following four spirits:
- Bourbon whiskey
- Rye whiskey
- Boondoggler whiskey (i.e. a blend of the former two spirits)
Well folks, that's a wrap on yet another beer-soaked birthday weekend with a few drops of liquor for good measure. Until next time...