It’s strange being so out of the Charlottesville beer loop. Since I left, West Main got a World of Beer, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint moved in downtown, and Pro Renata Farm Brewery opened in Crozet! Luckily I have a few C-ville correspondents to research these new spots for me. My friend Emily and her husband Rich are super knowledgeable about Virginia beer and wine; they visited Pro Renata last weekend and Em was kind enough to do a full write up.
Last Saturday afternoon, my husband Rich and I ventured out to Crozet, VA to sample some brews from newly established Pro Renata Farm Brewery. Although we’re not necessarily beer experts, we’ve sampled from many local breweries in the Central VA region, so we’re no slouches either.
- The look and feel of the place was very “Crozet.” Rustic, farm chic, no frills. I enjoyed the decor, which included funky signs and sampler glasses evoking an “old-timey medical” vibe. There was also a stage to showcase live music by night.
- Although we didn’t eat, we saw several people ordering food from the OTC food truck in the parking lot, which promised down-home comfort food and looked downright delicious.
- One beer that especially stood out was the Pavlov’s Belgian Blonde Ale (ABV 6.0%, 12 IBUs). It was really flavorful with a coriander-like aroma on the nose and reminded me of a Chimay.
- We arrived around 4pm on a Saturday and it was a bit of a mad house. Normally, I’d take this as a good sign–but it turns out the crowd was actually due to an awkward setup with the bar located really far from the seating. So everyone was hanging out in front of the bar, making it hard to order up some brews, and the seating area was nearly empty. And did I mention tons of kids? I am normally all about babies in bars, but it feels weird when kids outnumber adults in a brew house.
- We tried 7 of their 12 available brews. And they were just okay. Naturally, we compared the beer menu to our local favorites (Blue Mountain Brewery and Three Notch’d Brewing Company) and found they still had a long way to go in terms of developing a more interesting variety and improving overall flavor. Which beers were just, meh?
- Claudius Crozet Cream Ale (ABV: 4.8%, 14 IBUs): Didn’t get the “cream” flavor so much. A bit on the bland side.
- Coconuts Deep (ABV 4.6%, 41 IBUs): One of two “dark” beers on the list. A coffee stout but the sweet coconut finish described on the menu just didn’t come through.
- Kerri’s Cure Belgian Pale Ale (ABV 5%, 38 IBUs): Being a big Belgian beer fan, this once was especially disappointing and boring.
- Pro Renata had that classic icky Brewery smell. You know the one I’m talking about–kind of smells like a pet store? Not my favorite thing. Separate those casks from the public, I say!
Being a big IPA lover, it’s not surprising that the hoppier beers really appealed to me. Here’s what I would recommend if you’re like me and enjoy a bitter brew:
- Old Trail Pale Ale (ABV 5.2%, 35 IBUs): This was both simple and refreshing, creamy on the finish and tasty.
- Hop Drone IPA (ABV 6.5%, 75 IBUs): By far my favorite (we took home a growler), really flavorful, bitter on the front but finished smooth. I also tried the Hop Drone IPA with Citra Hops, but preferred the classic version since the citrus was a little overpowering for me.
All in all, I’d recommend checking out Pro Renata Brewery if you’re in the Central Virginia region; but with all the delicious local beer competition, they’re going to have to improve their overall variety to turn this beer-lover into a regular visitor!
Thanks so much for your thorough and objective critique, Em! Rich, I’m still holding out for a guest post about your home brewing experience once you work out the kinks. Hope to drink a beer with you guys soon!