Ramble On

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Visit @pendruidbrewing

We'll have some good news very soon about Hawksbill Brewing, but in the meantime, Mary and I took the drive across the mountains to Sperryville on Saturday for a visit to Pen Druid Brewing.  I guess this was my fourth or fifth visit, a relationship that began when they came over for a visit to the hop yards.

On social media I'd read that they had an incredible weekend January 20 - the weekend of the Trump inaugural and the protest march - and had very nearly run out of beer.  They assessed that there had been an exodus from DC and that they'd benefited from additional tourism.  They went to work to get their supplies back intact, kegging MarTeeTee, an imperial stout that was aged in a rye barrel.

At 11%, that is a potent beer, and a higher ABV than I will generally try away from home.  Fortunately they had three other brews on tap for me to try - Golden Swan, Senseless Panic, and Saturnalia.  Below I'll transcribe the info that was up on their tap board:

  • Golden Swan - a wild blonde, ABV 6.5%
  • Senseless Panic - a wild porter, ABV 7.5%
  • Saturnalia - a barrel-aged, wild sour blonde ale, 100% Virginia ingredients, ABV 6.4%

All three of the beers carried the moniker "wild," but I'll write about Saturnalia first.  Back in October I wrote this post about brewing traditions, which mentioned Pen Druid's approach to brewing a truly local beer.  Here's what their web site says about Saturnalia:

Our second release of our all Virginia soured blonde.  Fermented and aged for one year in Hungarian oak using Virginia grown and malted grains and hops using Virginia native souring and fermenting cultures.  

There's a lot going on in that beer.  But the main takeaway, paraphrasing Jennings, is terroir - that's what the countryside around here tastes like.

The other two beers I tried were both fermented with the wild yeasts Pen Druid was able to cultivate from the grounds of the brewery.  As I understood it, they literally picked some flowers and put them in wort, and that is the start of the yeast strain.  They've been able to keep the culture going for several generations, and it turns out some really good beers - for me, Golden Swan was "life-changing" once I understood how it was being made!

Pen Drui is always worth a visit and I learn something from them every time I'm able to stop by.  Cheers, guys!

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