There is great joy to be found in drinking a well-brewed beer. With just a sip of the finished product before you, there are wonderful details to delight each of the senses.
But when you are armed with even greater knowledge of the planning and effort that went into creating a magnificent brew, the experience is further enriched. As beer evangelist Randy Mosher writes, “Paint is paint; it is the hand that guides the brush that matters. It should be your goal to get to know brewers through their art-their beers.”
With that goal in mind, I am launching a regular column here at Digital Draughts to explore and celebrate the creative minds and diligent spirits behind craft brewing. Appropriately named Brewery Field Trips, these articles will feature visits to breweries near and far, along with tastings and tidbits about these magical workshops. Please join me as we kick off this series with a trip to a brewery that specializes in barrel aged wonders.
The roads leading to Purcellville, Virginia are most assuredly rural. Long stretches of farmland are broken up with winding roads through historic towns (along with the occasional modern mansion community). Many of the buildings are refurbished or built-up from rustic cabins and ranches; fresh wood and stone attached to ancient logs and brick. Seeing these hybrid homes brings to mind a pair of skillful hands; making novel works using the frames of those who came before them.
So it makes sense that a brewery based in this area would craft interesting beers using barrels of previous spirited works.
The Adroit Theory Brewing Company is nestled in a business park near one of the country roads mentioned above. The front of the building is rather unassuming: a small parking lot and a bland gray building. A short walk to the back of their business reveals an inviting patio and an entrance to their Tasting Room.
As we entered the brewery proper, the rich aroma of brewer’s malt and hearty wood flooded our nostrils. The Tasting Room provides a wide-open space, both well-lit and ventilated. The furnishings are an appropriate mix of well-worn wood with utilitarian steel and concrete. Aging barrels filled with Adroit’s latest concoctions line the wall, while their current bottled offerings decorate the bar with Industrial and Gothic influenced labels. In short, this brewery is Totally Metal™.
Adroit Theory’s current tap list of beers is both vast and esoteric (as advertised). A double-sided menu boasts over 24 beers for tasting and enjoyment. Despite being a bit overwhelmed, Laura and I managed to select a handful of beers to sample:
–Antithesis: Dill Pickle Gose: A cloudy, golden-yellow color with a strong odor of lime and dill weed. A tart lime juice start gives way to a refreshing dill and herb body, finishes with a buttered toast flavor.
–Fruit Loop Tripel: Bright, sun-golden color. Aromas of wheat, fruit candy, and cereal. A malty, fruit-sweet opening leads to light clove and wheat body, with a lingering hint of Fruit Loops.
–Ortolan Bunting (Aged in Armagnac Barrels): Coffee-black color with syrupy brown edges. A powerful nose of tobacco, coffee, and tawny port. Smoky/dry start with hints of dark bread and oatmeal. Finishes with strong flavors of dried fruit and brandy.
–Imagination Atrophy (Aged in Bourbon Barrels): Pitch brown color with a frothy head. Strong nose of vanilla and bourbon. Spicy whiskey start leads to a tangy caramel body with a hint of vanilla. Claims to be a beer, but don’t be fooled: this is bourbon in disguise.
Among the beers Laura and I tried, there was a pair of brews that stood out as the clear winners of our palates:
–B/A/Y/S (Black As Your Soul), aged with Cognac-Infused Raspberries and Chocolate: Pitch-black color with a mocha-foam head. Decadent nose of raspberry truffles and milk chocolate. Velvety start of ripe raspberries gives way to a rich dark chocolate and cognac body with a toasted coconut finish. Absolutely delicious.
–Love of the Damned: Honey colored with an amber hue. Strong nose of dried figs and grape candy. A cooling grape/ruby port start leads into a tart dried fruit and rich pound cake body with a toffee finish. Complex and tasty.
As Laura and I enjoyed our beers, we had the chance to witness the staff of Adroit Theory tap into some of their future projects. With a mallet and a sterilized nail, the brewers made tiny intrusions into the massive barrels of aging beer; catching meager samples of their brews into tulip glasses for inspection. We overheard these crafty creators discuss proper balance for each beer; suggesting potential ingredients to add to achieve optimal outcomes.
It was this scene of clever individuals who are skillful in using their hands and minds that proved this brewery earned the name Adroit. If you ever find yourself near Loudoun County, Virginia, make sure to take an excursion to the Adroit Theory Brewing Company. Their brewery is unique and powerful, which matches the delicious beers offered by this creative group.