Friday, April 6, 2018

☸️ Yeaster, 2018

Crowded taproom at Pen Druid BrewingThat’s not a typo in the headline; Pen Druid Brewing’s annual Yeaster festival falls on the Saturday before Easter Sunday every year. We’d planned our visit a couple of months before the day. What we found last weekend surprised even us.

The place was a madhouse before the brewery’s opening time. Parking was filled, vendors were up and running in the grassy area between the gravel lot and the Thornton River, and there was a line nearly out the brewery door.

No matter. We waited in line for service for about twenty minutes, then settled in at a table.

I’ve written about Pen Druid before; I call them “the alchemists” for their commitment to wild yeast and spontaneous fermentation. Six taps of beer made just so were flowing, and I enjoyed samples from two of them. Jupiter (below, left), their wild double IPA, was outstanding. I bumped its previous four-star Untappd rating to a five-star; somehow this batch was more hoppy and juicier than my last sample and exemplified a perfect DIPA.

A pint of Pen Druid's Jupiter DIPAA double IPA is one brewed with higher final alcohol by volume and plenty of hops. Jupiter clocked in at about 9% ABV. The additional alcohol conveys a greater depth of flavor.

During a brief lull and shortening of the line I jumped in and procured our second round, but aside from that, the place was packed all day.

We’ve attended previous Yeaster celebrations, and this was by far the most crowded of any. There were families parked on chairs and blankets on the grass; it appeared there were more and more diverse vendors than ever, and the crush to buy beer was surprising. Not that Pen Druid’s beer doesn’t deserve the attention—they’re one of the few local breweries working with wild yeast strains—we’ve never seen so many beer fans lining up twenty-deep for them. Vendors ranged from the neighboring Hopkins Ordinary Alehouse brewery to food, to crafts. It was a family-friendly atmosphere, and not a few dogs were along—leashed—for a day’s outing.

We’ll head out earlier next year to catch the doors opening at Pen Druid, and spend some time sampling Hopkins Ordinary’s beer. Their line was shorter when I found them among the vendors outside.

If you’re looking for something beer-related to do next Easter weekend, take a drive out to Sperryville, Virginia and attend Yeaster. If you’re looking for an adventure in beer any time, Pen Druid opens at noon Saturday and Sunday throughout the year and are well worth a visit.

#PenDruidBrewing #Yeaster #Sperryville #Virginia