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The Beer Circle » Williamsburg AleWerks » Williamsburg AleWerks & Williamsburg Wine Seller

Williamsburg AleWerks & Williamsburg Wine Seller

I made a sojurn to Williamsburg, Virginia and stopped into Williamsburg AleWerks. They opened their doors in 2006 and are run out of a small industrial park. The offices and tasting rooms are right next door in a one story office building. They operate a direct fired brick-clad Peter Austin brew kettle. The bricks help insulate the kettle and keep more of the from escaping through the kettle. Just this year they installed their first 60 barrel fermenter adding an addition 100 barrels per month to their capacity. They are still under 1500 barrels a year. Peter first used this type of kettle at Ringwood Brewery, the brewery he founded in Hampshire, England, in 1978. He is considered to be the father of the craft beer scene in England.

I arrived too late for a tour of the brewery but was able to spend some time in the tasting room. Lucky for me, AleWerks offered tastings without having to go on the tour. For $4 I enjoyed a few ounce tastings of 7 different beers including one from their Brewmaster’s Choice Series.

First up was their Wheat Ale. Unlike many wheat ales, your nose and palate weren’t overwhelmed with grassy notes. The orange flavor made its appearance on the finish and helped cleanse the potential bitter aftertaste.

Next up were the American ales: brown, red, and IPA: Tavern Ale, Red Marker, and Drake Tale, respectively. These were OK beers. Nothing amazing but still much better than mass market brews.

The Caledonia Ale, marketed as a Sottish-style IPA, from the Brewmaster’s Choice series was next. Hops were definitely present but this was no bomb. I also was able to taste the delicate floral notes.

Last up were my two favorites of the day: Coffeehouse Stout and Pumpkin Ale. The Coffehouse Stout is a coffee-milk stout. I first tasted the bitter coffee notes but the lactose really smoothed out the edges and lightened the overall experience. The Pumpkin Ale, brewed using pumpkins from a local mid-Virginia farm, was last. Unfortunately it was only in bottles and there were none in the cooler so the beer was warm. Lucky for me I was really able to taste the real pumpkin and spice flavors.

I did get a look at the barrels lining one side of the brewery. I hope that Williamsburg AleWerks is planning on expanding their barrel aging program. Currently it is limited to the Bourbon Barrel Porter, which is aged in Virginia Gentleman Bourbon barrels. This porter is one of my favorite beers and I will do a full review of this year’s release.

Next, I stopped at the only bottle shop that I was able to find, The Wine Seller. The store is a bit eclectic. The front half of the store is all wine. As you walk into the middle of the store you get to a deli counter and cheese shop, with tables and stools where you could eat your lunch. These lead to the beer and cigar sections in the back. The bottle supply isn’t very extensive, but there were four beers on tap. The Dogfish Head 120min IPA first caught my eye but then I saw Port City’s Derecho beer. As someone who experienced the storm and was without power for 17 hours, I simply had to try it. It was very inexpensive at $3.75 for a pint. It is a very light beer with a gentle citrus notes.

While enjoying my pint of Derecho I got talking to the store manager, who mentioned that Geoff Logan, AleWerks’ brewmaster often comes into the store to sample different releases of a certain style when he is working on a recipe. He was in the store in late August sampling Tripels. This jives with what I learned during my tasting: AleWerks is going to release a Tripel next year as part of its Brewmaster’s Choice series. I, for one, can’t wait.

These visits were fun way to spend an hour or two. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit either but if you’re ever in the Williamsburg area, or passing by on your way to Virginia Beach, you should stop in.


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Written by Bob Pack

Simply put, Bob is a beer lover. He goes out of his way to try new beers whenever he can find them. The love of trying new beers had resulted in a beer label collection of over 1400. When it comes down to it, Bob is a hop head. He loves IPAs (including double and black). Stouts are a close second. His tweet reviews on @nova_beer are simple and approachable. Let him know what you think. Find Bob Pack on Google Plus

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