That night after Al’s, we hung out at our friend Dave’s house, who lives in the area, so as to drain our growlers some, and clock a couple more hours with Rich and Commish before we headed out. We pulled into Harrisonburg at around 9ish, and headed to Billy Jack’s Shack, for a pint and some food before we hit the hotel room. Billy Jack’s was pretty packed as it was a saturday, and in general was not the kind of place the crew in into. The draft list was a little bit weak by our standards, but the bottle and can list made up for it a bit, with some Dale’s Pale Ale, Breckenridge IPA, and 21st Ammendment, Back in Black. They also did have pretty decent bar food. I got some fried chicken sliders over fries, that definitely hit the spot for $6.99. Good enough to send us back to the hotel room for a good night’s sleep.
Next morning we awoke to have some of Hatchy’s excellent home roasted, single origin coffee. I’m definitely ging to get spoiled on this stuff. It’s just too good. Hatchy also had some home brew kombucha with him, that was tasting excellent, and was a nice morning tonic.
Today’s plan was to grab brunch at a restaurant and bottle shop in Charlotesville, called Beer Run. Story is, they couldn’t sell beer in bottles, without serving food as well do to some wacky law. Anyway, we couldn’t resist hitting the bottle shop first, so we put our name in for a table and commenced browsing. Beer Run has a really well chosen selection, and it wasn’t long before we were filling boxes. I think between the four of us we picked up three and a half cases. Finds of the day included BFM Bon Chien 2006, Maui Sobrehumano in cans (!), and a nice selection of very well priced Lambics, which we proceded to clear out completely. The prices were so much better than Philly, we just had to grab what we could.
Brunch was pretty good, but we get our fill of wacky gastro-brunch up north, so this was well made, but pretty typical fare for where we’re from. After finishing our breakfast brews and coffee, we headed out to the first brewery of the day.
Blue Mountain was a bit of a disappointment. We ordered four beers, all of which were relatively thin and flavorless. Meh, I don’t really need to say more. We decided not to even finish the beers and just headed off to give Wild Wolf Brewing a shot.
Wild Wolf had a really great locale. Sat in a valley between two mountain ranges, the view was pretty impressive. The Brew-pub is in a small grouping of buildings, including some local crafts, a kids play area, and a home brew shop. The complex has a vibe almost like summer camp, and with Wild Wolf’s large area of outdoor seating, it was a really comfortable place to sit and relax.
The Wolf’s beer list was a little more adventurous than your average brew-pub, with some interesting twists, like a Black Tripel, and a Hoppy Wit. Here’s a rundown of the highlights…
Wit Wolf, was light, lemonade colored, and easy to put down. However, it was quite generously hopped, which helped bring some interesting flavors to the fore. There was a a very nice mellon and citrus center to this beer that put it above a lot of stateside wits, and the lasting bitterness in the finish was a nice palette cleanser, especially against their robust, delectable, smoked chicken wings. Crispy, smokey, and perfectly done, these were the clear standout of the few apps we had. So much so we had three orders.
Back to the beer, The Honey Saison was another pleasant surprise. This was the second high ABV Honey Saison of the trip. I have to say, It’s a trend I like as these beers seem to be showing some unique flavor components not seen in other stateside ales. While the signature Banana and clove flavors are present, there was also a delightful whiff of crème fraîche and white pepper. Subtle, complex, very nice.
The DIPA was interesting. Running the gamut from pine to citrus to pepper, the base flavor components were definitely in a good place. This was also quite dry which I like in some DIPAs, however, there was no real aroma of finishing hop flavor to speak of, leaving this a little flat in the finish. Dry hopping could really take this to another level.
I finished with an American Porter, that was nice and substantial in all the ways a porter should be. It was nice and thick, with a chewy, french roast bitterness throughout. A touch of dark chocolate and cream finished this beer out nicely, with a firm bitterness trailing off at the end.
All in all, I’d recommend this place to anyone who’s going to be in the area. The combination of the beer, food, and atmosphere is really solid, and lends itself to slow drinking and sitting around. Dusk is especially nice, with the mountain ranges in the background and some gentle lighting around the patio. Just an all around pleasure.
We finished out the night back at the hotel room, chipping away at what remained of the Sunny Side, Drinking some excellent Oude Tart, and binging on Adult swim. Good times.