Highway 15 winds along the first gasp of the Appalachians as it travels southbound from Maryland into Virginia. In years of living northwest of DC, I can’t tell you how many times I driven around its curves and dips between Frederick and Warrenton. Rarely have I stopped along the way, unless it’s to fly out of Leesburg or catch a trip from Dulles.
Our current state of slightly liberated lockdown has left us with less inclination (and essential reason) to take flight for work–and much more time left to pause and explore the places closer to home. One such point on the travel map has been Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery, in Waterford, Virginia. The beer comes well recommended, and it hits a couple of sweet spots for us personally as sourcing locally and sustainably, with a nice roll call of saisons and sessions to boot.
We made that stop on an early January day, which featured just enough of a cold breeze riding on top of the otherwise sunny air to make us wish we’d reserved one of the clear geodesic domes we saw as we pulled up. Actually, I had called ahead to ensure their opening hours and protocols, and the domes were all spoken for, along with the firepit gathering places. We’d dressed for the occasion–happy to stay outside and distant–so we took a picnic table after ordering a charcuterie plate and our first round from the walk-up window.
Loving a good Kölsch–and missing Köln–I went for the Köln Calling Kölsch at 5,1% abv to begin. Its clear, golden color spoke true to form, and it had a sunny, lily-of-the-valley aroma that continued onto the palate, with a bit of resin on the back end.
S went for the Bauernhof Altbier, at 4,8% abv. Sun shone through its deep, clear, amber color, and it showed roasted, walnut-ty notes on the nose and palate.
Because we’re working to keep our footprint out in the world relatively small, we took our other trials to go, in four-packs of the Fieldrise IPA (7,3% abv) and Long Shadow Chocolate Stout (7,4% abv), and a 500 ml bottle of the Bricolage Imperial Stout (10,3% abv).
I’ve had a couple of the Fieldrise IPA, and its hazy, pale golden color leads to aromas of peach and papaya, with more papaya and guava peel on the palate–with a sparkly finish.
The Long Shadows Chocolate Stout is brewed with cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla. Its deep, obscurely brown color makes sense when you take a whiff–it smells like a cup of hot cocoa. It’s light and smooth with a hint of coffee; almost cocoa powder on the palate with an even finish and a touch of cardamom pod.
Finally, the Bricolage–and the name gives me a chuckle as one of the local home improvement stores we frequented while living in Portugal is called “Bricomart” referring to the toolset. It’s a serious number, with a deep brown color, also obscure, showing the aroma of a blended and frothy café mocha. It’s smooth and clean on the palate, with the coffee flavors prominent yet balanced with more cocoa and vanilla.
To give a glimpse into the attention to detail that Wheatland pays to its local commitment, the Bricolage is made with the farm’s spring-fed well water, and grains that are 3% from the estate, 95% from Virginia, and 100% from the region. The brew is made with Old World hops, ale yeast, single-origin cacao nibs from the Dominican Republic, and Madagascar vanilla beans (like the Long Shadows stout). It’s double-mashed and conditioned in French oak puncherons for several months before resting on the nibs and beans for the final flavor enhancement. Well done!
For more information, check out the site and call ahead to reserve seating if you wish.