After a visit to the packed taproom of Philly’s Yards Brewing Company, we decided to make the short drive out to the northwestern suburb of Ardmore, PA and continue the rainy afternoon at Tired Hands Brewing Company. During our stop we were able to sample a few of the available beers and speak with co-owner Jean Broillet IV. The name Tired Hands was always what Jean called his homebrewing operation and serves as a nod to the “inevitable culmination of a hard day’s work”. The brewery functions under the label of a brew-café. Belgian and French farmhouse inspired beers crafted by the three brewer team in small batches, averaging about 12 kegs per brew, are served with a variety of charcuterie – meats, cheeses, and some sandwiches with breads made in house. The brewery values locally sourced ingredients, accomplishing this by partnering with about a dozen local farms to source its food.
In the late afternoon, we made the 20 minute drive north from our stop at Flying Fish Brewing Co. to Mount Holly, NJ in order to check out Village Idiot Brewing Company. We were able to meet with the two owners, Vince Masciandaro and Rich Palmay, to talk about their brand new business venture. The two are long-time friends – Vince has been homebrewing for 25 years and Rich, who teaches a homebrewing course at a nearby community college, has been an avid homebrewer for 10 years. They were (and still are) active participants in the south NJ based Barley Legal Homebrewers and had been toying with the idea of opening a business of some kind. They admired the nano approach of other breweries around the country – especially Blackrocks in Marquette, MI – and, after the New Jersey legal landscape changed in 2012 to allow for on-site consumption, they jumped at the chance to the implement a similar concept of a tavern style, zero distribution, nano brewery – the first in their home state of New Jersey. Their last license was received late last year and Village Idiot promptly opened for business on December 20, 2013.
Following our afternoon stop through Evolution Craft Brewing Co, we moved along the I-50 Ocean Gateway of Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Berlin, which was just named ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’ by Budget Travel. Contributing much to the cool factor of the small town is the presence of Burley Oak Brewing Company. On this busy Friday afternoon we were greeted at the bar by Bill Todd before founder and owner, Bryan Brushmiller, entered the tasting room with a mask. Covered in grain dust, he smiled and said he would be with us as soon as he finished milling grains for tomorrow’s brew. This showed us right away that Bryan is still extremely hands on and he later shared that it just wouldn’t be fun if he wasn’t able to brew every day. The physical labor of milling and mashing in makes his day and puts him in a good mood.
In preparation for a few days off for my upcoming birthday, 3/12/14 was perhaps our busiest day of brewery visits to date. We started off early morning at Midnight Brewery then promptly made our way through the country to Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery before noon. We then managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello prior to finishing the day off with a stop to see the fine folks at Three Notch’d Brewing Company in nearby Charlottesville. The city is home to the University of Virginia as well as a burgeoning craft beer scene. Three Notch’d is the latest to open its doors in the area, launching for business about 6 months prior to our visit. The company was founded by Derek Naughton, Scott Roth, and George Kastendike with Dave Warwick taking over the helm of all things beer. The founders all share a passion for great beer and thought to taking up homebrewing to create the perfect beer for their tastes. Thoughts traveled further as they dreamt up ideas of how to finance their habit by selling beer to local pubs and eventually made their way to the only logical conclusion – opening up a brewery. At that time there were no distribution breweries in the city so they set to work with the business plan. We were privileged to get the occasion to speak with both Derek and Dave on this chilly Virginia evening.