Enjoying craft beer isn’t just about what you’re drinking. It’s also about where you’re drinking. A growing number of farm breweries, with taprooms set on scenic expanses of wide-open countryside, have been opening in Virginia in recent years, offering settings for beer enthusiasts that feel like a genuine escape. And many of these outfits grow their own hops and barley, among other ingredients, used to craft creative small-batch brews in a variety of styles that are perfect for drinking under autumn skies. Here are a handful of our favorites to visit this fall.
Mount Ida Reserve Tasting Room & Taphouse
Mount Ida offers beer lovers a true grain-to-glass experience. Barley is grown onsite at the gorgeous 7,000-acre reserve, located just south of Charlottesville, and used to make the small-batch craft beers served at the Tasting Room & Taphouse. With expansive Blue Ridge views in the distance, you can taste a wide range of styles, from the Farm Use Helles, which features 100 percent estate-grown barley, to the high-gravity Beverly Harbor, a juicy double IPA that clocks in at 8% ABV. Wine enthusiasts will find plenty to sip on as well, as grapes from Mount Ida’s vineyard produce a range of styles, including the refreshing Bell Mount Rose and the deep, smokey High Ridge Cabernet. mountidareserve.com
Fine Creek Brewing Co.
The menu consistently changes at Fine Creek, a small family-owned brewery, set on a rural property between Richmond and Charlottesville, that’s focused on keeping options fresh. Instead of leaning on flagships, the beer brewed on the modest three-barrel system changes regularly, rotating between hoppy IPAs, crisp lagers and fruited saisons. The same ethos applies to the food, as the menu is adjusted every weekend, and ingredients for cooking are often sourced from local farms and producers. You can also make a trip to Fine Creek an overnight, as the brewery’s nearby affiliate operation, the Mill at Fine Creek, offers 13 quaint cottages available to rent. finecreekbrewing.com
B Chord Brewing
As the name suggests, the folks running B Chord Brewing are big music fans, so concerts featuring bluegrass aces like Del McCoury and the Infamous Stringdusters are frequently held outdoors on the brewery’s bucolic property in the Blue Ridge foothills of western Loudoun County, about a half-hour east of Winchester. The farm brewery has a spacious tap room, but the real draw is the sprawling 66-acre, park-like outdoor space, which is perfect for enjoying live sounds and sipping tasty brews like the Altered Chord IPA or the Farley Bridge Scotch Ale. bchordbrewing.com
Dirt Farm Brewing
Also located in Loudoun County, Dirt Farm Brewing is a relatively recent extension of the longstanding Great Country Farms, a family operation that grows a range of fresh fruits and vegetables. That agrarian experience was extended to brewing in 2012 with the opening of Dirt Farm, which sits on 100 acres and offers a range of “plow-to-pint” beers served on an expansive outdoor patio with sweeping, panoramic views of the Loudon Valley. Ingredients in Dirt Farm beers come from the brewery’s own hop yard and barley fields and are used to craft mainstay favorites like the light Straw Golden Ale and the fruity Tart 31 Cherry Ale, which features heaps of fresh Montmorency cherries. dirtfarmbrewing.com
Cave Hill Farms Brewery
At Cave Hill Farms, get a look back in time while you enjoy a vast selection of fresh craft brews. Located near Massanutten Resort, just east of Harrisonburg, the brewery sits on sixth-generation family farmland deeded all the way back in 1759, and the farm’s long history of livestock and crop production is celebrated at the 10-barrel brewhouse via museum-like displays of old farm equipment and carriages. Plus the taproom is in a retrofitted cattle barn where you can comfortably sip beers like the Flagpole Porter and Slam Dinkles Bock Lager that are made with the farm’s own barley and hops and water from a generational family well. cavehillfarmsbrewery.com
Cover photo: The Tasting Room & Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve is located just south of Charlottesville. Photo by Jason Keefer Photography