Wednesday, July 17, 2019

☸️ Cedar Run Brewery

We visited Cedar Run Brewery, my area's newest brewpub, this past weekend. Kelly and I joined my beer adventure pal, Neal, for an hour or so of sampling.

Buried among family farms on the fringe of the fast-growing town of Nokesville, Virginia, the brewpub facility is new construction amid a collection of older buildings and a farmhouse. The last part of the drive involves narrow farm roads and a gravel driveway, but the destination is all-modern and quite nicely planned and built. A rough gravel parking area, perhaps repurposed, ground-up asphalt by the look of it, provides plenty of informal parking.

Bar and taproom at Cedar Run Brewery
(click to enlarge)
There's ample shaded outdoor seating just off the left side of the building, but we visited during the height of a summer afternoon when the outdoor temperature was pushing 90. We headed directly to the indoor shelter.

The structure is a large rectangular footprint finished in unpainted, rough-hewn wood. Upon entry, the long, wooden bar stretches alongside the right wall. Roughly a dozen taps emerge from the wall of the backbar under a wide-screen television displaying the tap list. There were eight beers on tap when we visited, including two newly-added. A cold room sits behind the backbar, and the insulated door to that room is an interestingly-designed sliding barn door affair. I don't think I've seen similar elsewhere. Restrooms are available farther along the right wall, while the majority of the space directly inside the door and to the left is given over to a taproom with quite a lot of seating. The pub can accommodate a crowd of people. Numerous smaller TVs adorn the rest of the bar and pub area.

Brewhouse at Cedar Run Brewery
(click to enlarge)
The brewhouse sits around the corner of the rest rooms, at the inside rear of the building. I counted three fermenters and one each of a malt tun, brew kettle, and brite tank. The malt tun has a grain mill atop, so grain can be–perhaps is–milled on-site for freshness. I arrived a bit too late for a walk-through of the brewhouse with the brewer.

Cedar Run's head brewer is Matt Ryan, who notably last served as lead brewer at Mad Fox Brewing. He picked a terrific opportunity to move out on his own, as Mad Fox ceases operation this very week. I'm looking forward to sampling a few lagers from this award-winning brewer, whose Keller Bier Kolsch won a Virginia Craft Brewer's Cup.

Cedar Run's current beer line-up was all ales for our visit and ranged from a mild Blonde to a silk-smooth stout that finished dry. It featured three IPAs of varying flavor, all hewing to the piney-citrus character of the style. Those three and the stout, Thicc Axe, were the highlight of our visit, each earning near-to-over four stars on Untappd. Bathing In the Rain, a New England IPA, was served unfiltered. The Blonde ale, a saison, and an unfiltered hefeweizen were of varying degrees extra-mild on flavor. It's early in Cedar Run's life, though, so I expect tweaks to the recipes over the coming months. Finally, a mild English ale served on CO₂ also tasted a bit too mild. I wonder how this beer would do served at cellar temperature in a cask with a beer engine, though. Its malty base would shine through at a higher temperature, and most beers do well on natural carbonation.

The wait staff behind the bar were friendly and wanted our opinion of the beer. I was pleased to tell them I'll be back for more.

Cedar Run Brewery is open Tuesday–Sunday, most days until 10pm. There is occasional on-site food truck service.

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Lemon Grass Pils, Powers Farm & Brewery
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Our second stop was at Powers Farm & Brewery, where we sampled their delicious Lemon Grass Pils. This mild lager accented with the eponymous lemongrass is a delight, particularly in the summer heat. Again, we enjoyed our beer inside, seated in the cozy Powers brewhouse and taproom. This brewery is situated on a farm just outside Warrenton, in Midland, Virginia. Powers offers farm produce and beer CSAs and a tap list of eight beers. I also enjoyed a couple of tasters of two saisons; a honeysuckle variant, and a blackberry. Both tasted farm-fresh. Untappd ratings are the first three listed here.

Powers is open Thursday–Sunday and offers an extensive selection of on-site food trucks.

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As luck would have it, we visited Cedar Run at almost the exact same time as the creator and host of the NoVA enBREWsiast podcast. The nameless host posted a photo of his Bathing In the Rain NEIPA framed outside while we sampled inside.

I happily discovered this new podcast concurrent with its first episode and have followed it since. The host visits regional breweries, exploring the beer and pub offerings much as I do on this blog. The series begins at Tin Cannon Brewing Company of Gainesville, Virginia, one of my favorite destinations for craft beer. If you're a fan of craft beer in the north/central Virginia area, check it out wherever you find podcasts, and follow him on Twitter as @enBREWsiast.

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