James River Brewing, Scottsville, Virginia

What’s better than finding a new brewery on your travels? Finding one in your backyard.

That’s what happened to my cousin, Joni, over the weekend, when we spied a new-to-us spot just down the road from her house near Scottsville—which lies just 20 miles or so south of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Highway 20.

The James River Brewery was a local joint she had spotted before, but hadn’t yet tried, so we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in early March sampling a few of its award-winning beers. At the same time Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team dropped her two technicals to secure the NCAA top-scorer status. A very happy occasion all around!

I started with the Tuber IPA, a straight-up West Coast style, with a striking golden amber tone and apricot palate. Then I moved to the Man Overboard barleywine, a ruby amber color with an aroma of Morello cherries, and a bit of bourbon on the palate with more red berries and a touch of cherry pit for balance.

Joni tried the Seasons winter ale first, finding it clove- and nutmeg-forward. Next she tried the Fluvanna Fluss, a hefeweizen much more attuned to the spring breaking out all around us.

Stephen, my husband the Brit, stayed true to form and ordered the River Runner ESB, which he found a bit more carbonated than a straight ESB back in Blighty, but still mild and smooth.

The brewery is searching for food trucks and musicians to complement its beers over the summer—and I’m sure you’ll find us back here whenever we visit “the cuz.”