Ok…is it weird I’m still embarrassed to sit around a table taking pictures of my food and drink? My friends don’t care, my husband doesn’t care, but I just feel so strange doing it. Total aversion (face in hands).
Anyway, I went to Richmond on Saturday to visit a good friend. I was really impressed by the food and drink scene–not so much by the impossibly horrible traffic getting down there from DC on a Saturday. I mean, yea I know I live in a major metropolitan area known for terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad traffic, but I really don’t sit in traffic that much. Well, I got my full yearly dose yesterday. I had no idea that 90 miles could take 4 hours, but guess what, it can!
Sigh. But I have to say that the company and the beer (and the tacos) really made up for it. Let’s first start with the three breweries.
I really wanted to go to Isley Brewing Company to try a peanut butter chocolate porter, but alas, it was no longer on the menu. Instead, there was a Hefeweizen, a Blueberry Hefeweizen, a Farmhouse Ale, an IPA, a Red Ale, and a Oatmeal Porter. I’m such a fan of both porter and hefeweizen, I decided to get a flight to try them all out.
Let’s go from best to worst. The Oatmeal Porter, dark and delicious, was my favorite (it’s the one on the far right in the picture…oh wait, it’s already gone!). There was no weird porter aftertaste. It did seem to have just a bit of an almost coffee taste, but it was really subtle (6.6% alcohol). Then we had the Blueberry Hefeweizen, which was delightfully fruity smelling, but very down-to-earth to drink. No super sweetness, just a light blueberry note along with the Hefeweizen (5.2%). The regular Hefeweizen was my third favorite–it was good, but without the blueberry, it was just a little bit too light and boring for me (5.2%). I did drink it before the blueberry though, just to ensure that it wasn’t overshadowed. It was anyway. As for the other three: the Red Ale (5%) was eh, fine, but I don’t know if I would order it again. There was nothing wrong with it, and it was tasty, but it wasn’t nearly up to par with the hefe’s or porter. And the IPA (7.5%) and the Farmhouse Ale (4.75%)? Ugh. I dislike IPA’s generally across the board, so this one did not impress. Same with the Farmhouse…bitter, weirdly like too many orange peels and not enough anything else. But 3/6 isn’t bad, particularly as I had no expectations to love the ales in the first place.
Ardent’s atmosphere was definitely a little better than Isley’s, with a wonderful outdoor patio for good weather (we avoided, seeing as the humidity was stifling).
There were four choices on the Ardent menu, a Saison (6.7%), an IPA (6.8%), the American Mild (5.5%), and a Honey Ginger (7.8%). The Siason is similar to a farmhouse ale…no thanks, and the IPA was a definite no, so it was between the American Mild and the Honey Ginger. I opted for the American Mild, seeing as the Honey Ginger had a significantly higher alcohol content and I really wanted to hit at least one more brewery.
The American Mild was pretty good, particularly for a beer I wouldn’t usually order. It was like a brown ale, with a bit of hop and a smooth flavor. There were some spices in there for sure, they say caramel and chocolate but I’d say almost a nutty taste. It was good to try something else, seeing as I rarely order anything but wheat beers and porters. Allthetime.
I had a sip of my friend’s Honey Ginger, and was thankful I hadn’t ordered it–it was good, but really ginger-y. There’s no way I would have enjoyed a whole glassful of it.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Hardywood is much, much larger than the other two breweries, with a huge warehouse-type feel, where they host bands and other fun during the weekends. They also had two food-trucks on site (you think I can pass up tacos? Ha. More on that in a minute).
While Hardywood had a pretty diverse selection of beer, my heart was long set on the Hardywood Blackberry–a Belgian White Ale, with blackberries (6.8%). What could be better, seriously? (Side note, I see on their website they have a Raspberry Stout due out in the spring…um…heading back for that). They also offered a Pilsner (5.0%), an American Pale Ale (5.6%), a Cream Ale (4.4%), and a Hardywood Singel–a blonde ale (6.2%). I definitely would have been interested in trying the Singel if there hadn’t been the Hardywood Blackberry!
The Hardywood Blackberry did not disappoint; check out the color! It was light but full-bodied, like a good white Belgian beer. The blackberry was quite poignant to smell, but tasted refreshing and pleasant. There was no sweetness, or lingering fruity fake aftertaste. It was a total success, and definitely my favorite of the day. Plus, I liked the different fruit flavor–I mean, you often see peach, raspberry, blueberry, but blackberry? I even bought DH a bottle to enjoy at home.
Boka Taco Truck