We spent a few days off to celebrate my birthday in D.C. and for some much needed time catching up on our blog, not to mention avoiding the 6-8 inches of snow that fell overnight and shut down the government for a day. After the weather had cleared up and returned to its typical cold and gloomy self, we took to our sole brewery visit in the District of Columbia at Bluejacket on 3/19/14. High rent and limited warehouse space nearly drove them to the suburbs before they found an exciting space in 2008 and they have rented 7,000 sq. ft. of a nearly century old 73,000 sq. ft. boilermaker facility in the D.C. Navy Yard’s Annex. After several years of detailed planning, the brewery opened in late 2013. We met with Greg Engert, beer director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, an organization that is responsible for over 18 different businesses in the area including the popular craft beer destination ChurchKey/Birch & Barley.
On our way from Norfolk to Richmond on 3/10/14 we felt it was important to make a short detour for some sightseeing. We decided to take an educational tour of Jamestown with an archaeologist and, rather than visit Historic Williamsburg, felt a proper representation of the city could be experienced at the local brewery. AleWerks Brewing Company opened in 2005 but operated under the name of Williamsburg AleWerks until just over a year ago. The brewery was started by Chuck Haines, who secured the facilities of the defunct Williamsburg Brewing Co. He hired on longtime homebrewer, Geoff Logan, to handle the brewing and Geoff has been responsible for creating all of AleWerks’ recipes over the years. In keeping with the rich history of the area, they utilize a traditional 30bbl brick wrapped brewhouse with open flame, as opposed to the steam systems in operation at many other breweries. This day Corbin graciously served as our beer tasting and brewery guide. As an artist himself, Corbin shared his view of how brewing is the best form of art because you can enjoy a beer with all of your senses then, of course, you feel good afterwards.
On the morning of 3/6/14 we kept ourselves busy playing catch up with some writing before driving a couple hours to Kinston for a tour of Mother Earth Brewing. After our detailed tour courtesy of Kevin Graham, we chatted with the Account and Taproom Manager, Sean Maloney, over a flight and also had to opportunity to speak with the brewery founders, Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill. Mother Earth has been making award winning beers since they opened for business in October 2008 with experienced Brewmaster, Josh Brewer, at the helm. Of special note, after three years of renovation and hard work to increase environmental sustainability, in February 2012 they were the very first brewery in the country to become LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) gold certified by the US Green Building Council.
After waiting out another winter storm, on 3/4/14 we headed east from Greensboro to our first brewery visit in North Carolina’s ‘triangle’ which, for those unfamiliar, consists of the area between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. We were very happy that afternoon for the opportunity to speak with Les Stewart, head brewer for Trophy Brewing Company. Trophy is a 3 bbl nano-brewery that was founded by Chris Powers and David Lockwood who also own Busy Bee Cafe, a popular Raleigh beer bar. The brewpub just celebrated their one year anniversary before our visit with a party in the roped off parking lot featuring some special release beers and has been seeing expedient growth since its inception. The restaurant and bar area are fairly limited in space and they were previously only open for dinner, however, have opened up their doors for lunch on the weekends to accommodate demand. While Les and his assistant brewer, Josh Wing, are certainly making some great beers for the area, he was quick to give a lot of the credit for the success and quick turnover in beers to the pizza. “Those guys do an amazing job,” he said about the kitchen staff who are busy turning out pies with many locally sourced ingredients as well as a meat and veggie feature pie every day – they even utilize the beers in the dough and sauce.