On the Road special edition: Culpeper, Va.

By on November 14, 2018


This flight of brews from Beer Hound Brewery all had canine monikers: Muttley (NEIPA), Daisy (Saison/Farmhouse Ale), and Kujo (DIPA). Kujo is a 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Cup gold medal winner.

Not so literally I stumbled upon the beer scene in Culpeper, Va., while making a trek toward the Shenandoah Mountains recently. I didn’t stop here to find beer. I simply wanted to crash for the night on the way to my next destination, but what I found was a place worth writing home about — especially a growing beer scene.

The only incorporated town in the county of the same name, Culpeper looks a lot like many towns in Pennsylvania. There’s a patchwork of chain retail establishments sprawling out from an old downtown, which is desperately (and successfully) trying to hold onto its attractiveness by fully embracing boutique shops, excellent eateries, and a seasonal farmer’s market. The beer spots are sprinkled in and out of town and I think I should start with the one that impressed me the most.

Far Gohn Brewing is a “tavern brewery” celebrating “the German immigrant contribution to the American beer tradition.” It is nowhere near as stuffy as this self-description, but their adherence to a standard of quality is worthy of tradition. Far Gohn beers are never filtered, always unpasteurized, free of animal products, and the brewery openly lists the source of every ingredient going into its beers.

Far Gohn’s highest ranked beers on Beer Advocate are their Dunkel Dimmer (American-style Porter) and Dutzel (German Altbier), but after falling in love with some of their other offerings we walked out with Crowlers of Hupensaft IPA and Coon’s Process. Coon’s Process is an American pale ale based on the brewer’s grandfather’s home brew recipe. It’s an odd beer to find at “craft” brewery. Light and slightly fruity, the beer most resembles a typical, corporate, big brew. It’s easy to drink, doesn’t carry a lot of flavor or carbonation, and reminded those who tasted it of Natty Boh.

A zig-zag walk away from Far Gohn, near Culpeper’s railroad station, is Beer Hound Brewery. Managed by super-friendly owner Kenny Thacker, this place resembles a combination of beer hall and sports bar; it’s the place to get together with a bunch of fellow beer drinkers looking to slosh back their fair share. Here we got a pooch-themed flight including Muttley (NEIPA), Daisy (Saison/Farmhouse Ale), and Kujo (DIPA). Kujo is a 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Cup gold medal winner.

Coon’s Process from Far Gohn Brewing is an American pale ale based on the brewer’s grandfather’s home brew recipe

Just outside of downtown sits Wicked Barn Brewery and Hops Farm. Founder and brewmaster William Jones strayed from the dairy farming he grew up on and combined his roots with his passion to create beer. Wicked’s Hopped Up Tractor DIPA is an east coast representation of a west coast IPA loaded with Amarillo and Citra hops. It’s earthy, refined, and definitely hoppy.

A few miles down the road in nearby Brandy Station sits another farm brewery (and winery and cidery); Old Trade offers gorgeous views to go with their selections of IPAs, dark ales, and traditional German brews. Check out the Malum Apple Beer; described as a “wannabe cider” this unfiltered Pilsner shandyish brew is twisted with juice from regionally sourced apples.

If you get down there, tell ‘em Hop’in Around sent ya. Cheers and thanks for reading!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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