Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Drinking Around Williamsburg – Beer, Wine, Mead & Spirits

By Dathan Kazsuk  
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town Instagram: trianglearoundtown

Note: This is an update from our Dec. 7, 2016 blog – since there has been a few updates.

Can you imagine an easy tasting trail where in the course of a weekend you can try some award-winning wines, enjoy several flights of local craft beer, sample some Medieval-themed meads and cleanse your palate with some distilled spirits?

Well, all that is achievable when you visit Williamsburg, Virginia and take part in the Williamsburg Tasting Trail. The only question is who is going to be your designated driver - and where to begin first!

Well, let us help you out there. We've pretty much been to everything the trail has to offer – and we're always impressed.

1. Alewerks Brewing Company | 189 Ewell Road | Williamsburg
Since 2006 the folks at Alewerks have been crafting some serious craft beer – and that's one reason we usually visit each time we're in town. With reserve beers such as the Grand Illumination Barleywine, Bourbon Barrel Porter, Café Royale Stout and Bitter Valentine DIPA, Alewerks is a place to unwind after the long ride into Virginia. The taproom has anywhere between 10-16 beers on tap and you almost can certainly find something rare to sample on draft, cask or nitro.

They recently added a satellite taproom down the road at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets right next to the Columbia Sportswear – a nice place for the guys to hang out while the women shop! 

2. Brass Cannon Brewing | 5476 Mooretown Road | Williamsburg
It's a quick hop, skip and jump to Brass Cannon Brewing – located just half-a-mile from Alewerks parking lot. The taproom isn't hard to miss, just look for the bright green building with bright yellow trim. Inside the tasting room you can grab yourself a pint or purchase a flight of four beers. 

Brass Cannon offers up five year-round beers which include the Barrage Brown, Angry Scot Wee Heavy, Muzzle Flash Amber Ale, Broadside IPA and the Smoothbore Stout. They also offer seasonal selections and special release beers such as its brown ale aged with rum-infused oak, the Rum Ration.

3. Silver Hand Meadery | 224 Monticello Avenue, Suite C | Williamsburg
After a couple beers, we thought it's time to mix it up a little and visit Williamsburg's first meadery. Once you enter the tasting room of Silver Hand you can choose from several different tastings.

Silver Hand has 9 meads available when we last visited, ranging from a simple-style mead titled Virginia Moon to a seasonal semi-sweet cyser named Dream by the Fire, which contains cinnamon, cloves and allspice. And it's not just mead that is available for sale – the store features a handful of exotic honey flavors as well as a gift shop.

4. Copper Fox Distillery | 901 Capitol Landing | Williamsburg
We now think it is time to indulge in some delicious distilled spirits. And Copper Fox Distillery is a perfect place to kick it off. Making spirits since 2005 in its original location of Sperryville, Virginia, Copper Fox moved into its new Williamsburg facility in 2016. Driving up to the distillery you might think you're in the wrong location, as master distiller Rick Wasmund selected an old motel to set up shop and mass production facilities. 

Samples for a small fee let you try a single malt Whisky, a rye Whisky and an amazing single malt Gin that will knock your socks off. You can stick around for awhile and order up a mixed drink as well.

Now, depending on how much time you spend at each place or your capacity to hold your liquor, you might want to call it a day after these first four locations and start fresh the next afternoon. Two of the next three locations you can actually spend a couple hours there taking in the libations and surroundings. We're warning you now.

5. Virginia Beer Company | 401 Second Street | Williamsburg
If you heed my advice above and decide to hit up the Virginia Beer Company on day two – it's a perfect start to the new day. VBC has ample seating both inside and out, and offers up to 8 beers on draft for your drinking pleasure. For $8 you can sample all four of the "year round" beers which include Saving Daylight (Citrus Wheat), Free Verse (IPA), Elbow Patches (Oatmeal Stout) and the Wrenish Rye (Dry-Hopped Amber). Or for $15 you can try all 8 beers available on draft that day.

When we paid them a visit the other beers included the Citra Pale Ale, Evil Santa Spiced Holiday Milk Stout, Peachwood Smoke (using malt from Copper Fox Distillery) and a Biére de Garde. The nice thing with VBC is they fill both growlers and crowlers of all 8 beers on draft.

With good beer, nice facility, games and food trucks, VBC is a place you can hang out for a couple hours and enjoy drinks and laughs with your friends.

6. 8 Shires Distillery | 7218 Merrimac Trail | Williamsburg

(Note: When we visited the distillery back in 2016, they were called the Williamsburg Distillery, but a cease and desist from the winery down the road made them change their name). 

The second distillery on the tasting trail is a lot smaller than the Copper Fox Distillery, but still serves up some good spirits. Stop in and sample the Jamestown Gin or the Yorktown Silver Rum to warm up your insides. Mixed drinks were available when we visited, and visitors could mix and match any combination of four mixed drinks using Gin or Rum. 

7. Amber Ox Public House | 521 Prince George St. | Williamsburg
This new micro-brewery and public house opened to the public on December 1, 2017. We happened to be in town for the grand opening, but were unable to visit. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner the Amber Ox's menu is full of plates such as fried chicken, burgers and braised shortribs. This would seem like the perfect place for food and some more beer or cocktails on day two of your visit.

8. Billsburg Brewery | 2054 Jamestown Rd. | Williamsburg
It's Williamsburg newest brewery located near the Jamestown Settlement and just like the Amber Ox Public House, we weren't able to get out there this time around. But looking at some Facebook reviews, it is a place we'll have to check out next time we're in town.

9. Williamsburg Winery | 5800 Wessex Hundred | Williamsburg
This winery is the perfect place to end a weekend – or start it. You can stay at the top-notch Wedmore Place where one can dine at the elegant Cafe Provencal. Or for a more casual lunch or dinner option head to the Gabriel Archer Tavern. Once inside the gift shop/tasting room you can partake in a couple different tasting and tour options. For $9 per person you can select the Fine Wine Tasting, where you can select up to 7 wines. They also offer a Reserve Wine Tasting – in which you try some of the wineries top shelf reserve wines, which might include the award-winning Adagio (which runs around $70-plus a bottle).

The winery sits on over 300 acres with 40 acres devoted to the vineyards, which house grapes such as Merlot, Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Petit Verdot. Depending on when you arrive at the winery, you might find special events happenings like concerts, holiday festivities, special wine releases or wine club appreciation celebrations.

So there you have it. A total of nine different stops that run the liquor gambit. We've enjoyed our time at each and every place on the list above that we visited, and we hope you do as well. And if you're still feeling adventurous, there is also the Colonial Wine Trail, which starts at the Williamsburg Winery and follows the 64 corridor to another three wineries: Saude Creek Vineyards in Lanexa; New Kent Winery in New Kent and James River Cellars in Richmond. 

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