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Can you imagine an easy tasting trail where in the course of a weekend (or day), 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 the Williamsburg Tasting Trail in the heart of Williamsburg, Virginia. 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 been to all seven of the stops on this trail several times and know the best route to take – at least in our opinion.
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 tend to hit them up first when we visit Williamsburg. 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 16 beers on tap and you almost can certainly find something rare to sample on draft, cask or nitro. There is usually ample seating inside the taproom and Alewerks have recently finished the construction of an outside Biergarten between the taproom and production facility.
Alewerks also offers guided tours and tastings – check its website for times and availability. They are open 7-days a week beginning at noon each day and open until 9 p.m. every night except Sunday when they close at 5 p.m.
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.
The brewery is open Sunday through Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and closed Wednesdays.
3. Silver Hand Meadery | 224 Monticello Avenue, Suite C | Williamsburg
After a couple beer locations, we thought it's time to mix it up a little and visit Williamsburg's first meadery. Silver Hand Meadery is the brainchild of Glenn Lavender. Once you enter the tasting room of Silver Hand you can choose from several different tastings. They offer both a simple honey and mead tasting, which are free to the public, as well as weekday and weekend guided honey tastings ($11 and $15 respectively).
Silver Hand has 6 meads available 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.
Silver Hand Meadery is open 7-days a week. Sunday through Thursday doors open at 1 p.m. and close at 6 p.m. (except on Sundays when they close an hour earlier). Friday and Saturday hours are 11:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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 this past summer. 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.
Tours are available upon arrival, and hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 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. And every Friday at 3:30 they release a limited beer in its "Brewmaster's Pin" series.
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.
Virginia Beer Company's hours vary so make sure you check out the times before you make your way to the brewery: Monday - closed; Tuesday - closed; Wednesday - 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Thursday - 3 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday - noon to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday - 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Sunday - noon - 7 p.m.
6, Williamsburg Distillery | 7218 Merrimac Trail | Williamsburg
The second distillery on the tasting trail is a lot smaller than the Cooper 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. Or for $12 you can do a mixed-drink flight. Visitors can mix and match any combination of four mixed drinks using Gin or Rum.
Tours and tastings begin every 30 minutes starting at 1:30 and continuing until 7 p.m. Tours and tastings are free to the public. The Williamsburg Distillery is only open three days a week – Wednesday from 1 p.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday from 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. - 8 p.m.
7. 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 seven different stops that run the liquor gambit. We've enjoyed our time at each and very place on the list above, 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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