Updated: Jul 29, 2020
NOTE: If you're wondering where the missing blogs are from the Spring and early Summer... so am I. There seems to be a batch of lost data, and w/C19 tech support hasn't been much help. Hopefully they'll be restored at some point soon. Sorry!
July can be brutally hot and humid in the mid-Atlantic region, and this year we're getting plenty of that. I spent a few days in North Carolina's Outer Banks, played Uncle Ike's Sandbar (one of my fav non-breweries to play), and just hung on the beach primarily in Kitty Hawk for a few days. The ocean was like glass... zero surf, which was a bit weird, but good for swimming. My routine was basically the morning in the ocean, seafood lunch, afternoon in the pool, and then gig in the evening.
Friday I ventured just a little bit north, over the state line into Chesapeake, Virginia for the first brewery of this run. My host for this evening was the Garage Brewery, which happened to be celebrating its first anniversary.
The Garage Brewery - Chesapeake, VA
A wide selection of flagships, seasonals, experimentals, and special editions are available at the taproom.
The brewery is located in a business park sort of area, in what appeared to be a shiny new building completely wrapped in big windows and bay doors, allowing for plenty of fresh air (although thankfully on this day they also had the AC cranking). Due to COVID, the area had expanded a bit into parking lot to allow for more distancing (via cornhole games, etc.) beyond the patio and rather expansive taproom. The “garage” theme was dominant in the taproom, with the room decorated with tons of license plates, various pieces of equipment that you might find with a road crew, and at the far end of the room was the part of an earth mover. Definitely a unique décor... fun and unusual.
Food was provided on this night by a local burger establishment's truck, and while I did not partake the burgers, truffle fries, etc. looked and smelled fantastic.
I was initially a little concerned about whether my music was going to be a good fit, as when I arrived they were playing some rather aggressive rock... but the concern was short lived and the crowd was very engaged once I started playing. Demographically I'd say their clientele was a healthy mix... there were young families, retired folks, college aged kids, and a fair number of dogs on hand.
The beers: I loaded in during the heat of the afternoon, and it was pretty hot and miserable. I had sweated a bit through my shirt, and I just really needed to chill for a little while before playing... and luckily the Garage's flagship beers were perfect for such a task. The brewery's big award-winner is a sour called Boss Lady, and it was quite refreshing on a hot sticky day. Due to it's success, there are actually now several variations of the Boss Lady, and I started with the original (Boss Lady Vol 1 Triple Berry Sour (5%), which was a sour made from a mix of berries. It almost looked like a smoothy.... a dark mauve sort of hue, rich and crisp with berry flavor, sour enough to be refreshing without being obnoxious. Crisp, clean finish... a really fantastic brews.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Vol 1, I then moved siftly on to Boss Lady Vol 3 (10%), which this time was a sour based on pineapple and apricot. The transition was a bit abrupt (I'd recommend maybe cleansing the palate with some water before making the move, which I didn't do...), but after the first couple of sips the pineapple apricot settled in nicely, and was also quite enjoyable (I do think I liked Vol 1 a little better, but they were both quite good). Vol 3 looked pretty much like a glass of pineapple juice, yellow and hazy... again with a clean finish that didn't leave any uncomfortable remnants of bitterness that some sours tend to do.
For my second set I switched to the Confused? IPA (10%), which was a moderately hoppy IPA, leaning more towards the citrusy side than the piney, medium bodied and rather crushable. Again, it was a bit of an abrupt departure after the sours, and once that initial adjustment happened it was quite enjoyable, the hints of fruitiness coming from the hops themselves rather than any actual fruit injection (there wasn't one). The pour was a little on the hazy side, the drink crisp with a clean and slightly bitter finish... a good, crushable IPA.
My final beer of the evening was a special brew that they tapped on this day just for their anniversary, and wow was it a good one to save for the end.... the Builder From Hell Bourbon Barrell Aged Coffee Stout (10%). Builder From Hell is the brewery's coffee stout, and this special edition took that recipe and then aged it for a year in Four Roses bourbon barrels. This is what I'd call a good dessert beer.... complex, a bit heavy, delicious and rich... and one that you might want to take a nap after. The foundation is a nice quality coffee stout, nice creamy body, well balanced hues of coffee that is not too bitter... but then what makes this one jump out is that bourbon aging is right up front. A bit boozy on the aroma and initial sip, they aren't bluffing when they say there's some bourbon in there! A bit suprising on the initial sip, but it then settles in and becomes a very enjoyable sipper.... with elements of caramel and vanilla emerging as you get deeper into the pint. A very tasty way to cap off the evening!
The staff and crowd at the brewery were very friendly and talkative... several members of the staff provided informed input on the different brews and were quite helpful. I also had an unusual number of lengthy conversations with several groups of people, so it was a fun, stimulating evening all the way around!
Chesapeake is in the same region as Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and I've now played a good handful of breweries in the area on my tour. If you find yourself in the area I would definitely put the Garage Brewery on your short list of breweries to check out. Beyond the few beers I sampled above, their selection is actually significantly deeper, and covered a wide variety of styles ranging from more pale ales to porters, etc. I look forward to returning to dive deeper into the taplist!
After the show I hung out and chatted for an unusually long amount of time, and didn't depart until late. A wicked storm blew in during my drive to Williamsburg (which made my trip across the bridge-tunnel extra fun), and the lightning was amazing. Few things are more terrifying than hydroplaning in a conversion van with no visibility at midnight on unfamiliar roads. I almost pooped myself. Almost...
My next stop is a late afternoon show at the Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg. I played a benefit there last year, and have been looking forward to returning. Having spent 6 years living in Williamsburg in the 80s it's always interesting to return. I am currently lunching on my favorite sandwich at Paul's Deli, a favorite haunt across from the William & Mary campus. Unlike most of Williamsburg (well, outside of the colonial area, I guess) Paul's never ages... it is frozen in time, from the massively exensive menu to the alumi photos cramming the walls, to the songs on the juke box. I don't visit Williamsburg without a stop at Paul's, god bless 'em.
If you're a history buff, this Summer seems to be a good time to visit the area. On my June run we made a stop here and hit Jamestown, and on both visits I've found hotels to be VERY cheap.... I assume COVID is putting a hurt on the tourism business here. Regardless, hotels are cheap here this summer, and if you've never been its a gorgeous part of the country (a bit humid, but the beach is only about a half hour from here...).