Despite rain, sleet, ice and snow – the pub crawl must go on (and it did!) Nineteen chicks gathered at Cally’s Restaurant and Brewing Company around 1PM on Saturday to kick off our grand beer tour of Harrisonburg, VA. Mark and I dodged bad weather for three days in order to make the journey from Front Royal to Harrisonburg to join our friends who were ready to paint the town “beer”. And that we did.
Cally’s is a beautiful brewpub located in historic Harrisonburg. Brewmaster and owner, Eric Plowman, was an incredibly gracious host allowing us to sample ALL of their wonderful beers brewed on premise. Cally’s hooked us up with homemade chips to compliment our sampling which included:
- Smokin’ Scottish Ale (delicious toffee ale and my favorite of the day)
- India Pale Ale (really hoppy with a lot of character)
- Kolsch (light, German Kolsch brewed to its strict traditional standards using all German ingredients)
- Belgian Golden (brewed with yeast “acquired” through a painstaking process)
- Ellery’s Apricot Ale (and, yes, it tasted like subtle delicious apricots)
Eric took the time to explain each beer, how it was brewed and what he enjoyed about the brewing process. We were then treated to a tour of the brewery where Eric gave us a play-by-play of the brewing process (“science” as Miriam so eloquently put it).
Cally’s was a fabulous kick-off for our tour and I can’t wait to visit again.
Next stop was Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint, a foundation of the Hburg beer community. Don’t be fooled by its “cozy” interior (20 seats max in this little bar) – it’s beer selection is fierce. We squeezed in with the other surprised but extremely accommodating patrons and were treated to the beer of our choice. Advised by a friend that I MUST try the deep fried Oreo, I indulged. It was like sex wrapped in deep fried dough. I want another one just thinking about it now. Mmmmm….I enjoyed Highland’s Gaelic Ale as my beer of choice and squeezed in a Breckenridge 471 before we moved on. Mark and I loved JB’s so much that we landed there as our after party spot. Jack Brown’s – I heart you.
Stop number three was the Local Chop & Grill House – an upscale, friendly and very gracious restaurant with an amazing chef, Ryan Zale. The bar had been set for us with linens, huge beer portions for tasting, water – it really was gorgeous. They have an diverse beer list, so I highly recommend the bar as a stop for any beer lover. Ryan joined us to tell us a little about the food that had been prepared especially to pair with our beer. We enjoyed Ommegang’s Rare Vos with LOCAL apple and mushroom risotto, crispy homemade LOCAL pork salumi and herb salad. We also loved Ommegang’s Three Philosopher’s Quadrupel paired with juniper and pepper spiced seared duck breast, LOCAL cider raisin compote and crispy onions. Both dishes paired perfectly with the beer selections and I snuck in a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter before he had to leave. We were truly treated like queens and I cannot wait to go back for dinner.
Next stop? Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine – a gorgeous restaurant with a lot of charm and a wonderful owner and host, Work Arefaine. The building was on the verge of condemnation and Work renovated it to the beautiful cafe that stands today. Here we enjoyed a huge sample of Green Flash with pita chips and homemade hummus. After our sampling, Work gave us a tour of the building telling us about its history, Ethiopian culture and where coffee originated (Ethiopia – who knew?) He also showed us the basement which is a huge facility completely renovated and used for weddings, parties and live entertainment. Since visiting Blue Nile, several friends have told me that dinner there is amazing and I’m looking forward to another visit.
Stop #5 landed us at Union Station Restaurant and Bar, where we enjoyed the draft of our choice. I was thrilled to discover that they offered Weeping Radish’s “Black Radish” on draft! (You can’t find it on draft anywhere!) This place was hopping and a great stop for a bite to eat. $3 burgers and fish tacos were a hit with the chicks.
As the sun began to set, we headed over to Clementine Cafe, a chic little restaurant with a modern decor located on Main Street. Upon arrival, we headed down to the basement which was adorned with cozy couches, bar tables and table games. Here we were treated to a sample of Terrapin’s Rye Ale.
Our final stop was Beyond Restaurant & Lounge, offering a delicious selection of Asian-fusion dishes. Our last sampling of the day included a full Left Hand Samurai rice beer with tempura, wontons and sushi. The food and beer were delicious and this is yet another gem that I can’t wait to return to.
From here our group hugged, said our good-byes and dispersed. Some headed over to the Artful Dodger while Mark and I went back to Jack Brown’s where I ran into Junior, the Brooklyn Brewery rep and Tim, one of our local beer distributors. Who says its not a small world? I also got to meet Aaron Ludwig, Jack Brown’s owner who was happy to have had the girls pass through.
We had a terrific time in Harrisonburg and I’m already planning our next trip back. I have to extend an enormous hug to Kelly Brady who organized the excursion and did an amazing job. She truly pulled it off without a hitch. Happy Birthday to Miriam who chose to spend her birthday with us – we were so lucky! And to all of the beer chicks of Harrisonburg who made Mark and I feel right at home. You ladies are fabulous and I can’t wait to cruise the beer joints with you again!