Blue Mountain Brewery (Afton, VA)

Just a few miles from Rockfish Gap entrance to Skyline Drive, we found Blue Mountain Brewery and Hops Farm – a brewery and pub with a real farm look to it! 200 hop vines adorn the font of the property (nothing growing on this visit!) The building is anchored on one end with a large barn-like area for the brewing, and long extension with a welcoming large front porch. It was dark when we arrived, and the warm glow of interior lighting streamed from the multiple windows and doors.

Inside there was an angled bar with seating for 8, and 8-10 tables of varying sizes with bench seating. Comfortable couches and chairs provided seating adjacent to the fireplace, and we noticed a little sitting nook in the back (next to the kitchen) that looked like it just jumped out of an episode of Trading Spaces. Beer literature and brewing books were placed on coffee tables and shelves. The yellow walls and warm lighting made the place feel very welcoming, and the high ceilings gave an illusion that the place is bigger than it really is.

Blue Mountain Brewery was packed when we arrived, but we did locate two seats at the wood-topped bar, which wasn’t too high, and didn’t have a lip, so I could actually eat at it! Pints on a Wednesday night are $3.

  • I was disappointed to learn that the Full Nelson Pale Ale, listed as being available on draft on February 20, was not (maybe after Feb. 20?!?!), so I had it in a bottle. At 60 IBUs, made with a blend of four different hops (Nugget, Cascade, Centennial and Columbus), this had a nice bite to it. 
  • D started with an Evil 8°– a Belgian-style dubbel that was rich with candi sugar and hints of chocolate and dark fruit. It was probably our favorite of the three beers we tried.
  • He also had an Irish Dry Stout, which was served on nitrogen. It was dark and clean, with a thick tan head. Absolutely true to style, this was slightly roasted and light in body. Not my favorite style of stout, but brewer Taylor Smack has done a fine job creating it.

It was a real tease to sit at the bar, looking through large glass windows right into the brewing area, watching them bottle the Dark Hollow Artisanal Ale (a bourbon barrel aged stout), knowing that we wouldn’t be able to buy/taste it.

Our bartender was certainly not a waitress. While the rest of the staff seemed to be very good, she was inattentive and could perhaps use some beer etiquette training.  For instance, since my beer came in a bottle, she opened the bottle and put it in front of me.  Then she proceeded to ask if I wanted a glass.  Do I want a glass?!?!  Can I drink it any other way? I tried to ask her a few questions, but she seemed very disinterested in the customers until someone came in with whom she held hands and chatted for some time.  Hmmm.

But we were generally impressed by the food menu. For instance, we started with the Puree of Parsnip Soup. It was AMAZING! With little flakes of dried sage and drops of truffle oil, this was a perfect starter on a cold night.  It is one of the best soups I’ve had in awhile. There were plenty of interesting things on the menu – the fruit and cheese board looked tasty and generous, and highlighted local cheeses. There was a roasted veggie pizza that I wanted to photograph! The crust was so very thin that it looked like a sand tart cookie. Every inch of the pizza was covered in goodness – a cilantro pesto, roasted yellow squash and zucchini, onions, mushrooms, mozerella and tomatoes – and the whole thing was littered with dollops of goat cheese and sprigs of fresh cilantro.

We had sandwiches on ciabatta bread instead. D really enjoyed his sandwich made with Kite’s Virginia Ham. I enjoyed the contents of mine (avocado, sprouts, tomato, hummus, cucumber), but suspect the bread was toasted on a surface where the ham had been, because my veggie sandwich had a liquid smoke flavor to it (I just ate it without the bread, and with a side salad, this was plenty filling for me!)

Overall it was an enjoyable experience, but it would have been more fun if we could have talked to some of the staff or the brewer (understandably, he was very busy.) Perhaps we will get back another time. This was out of the way, but a nice side trip!

Photos to come later… We’re off to Winston-Salem, and D is already a little antsy at the time I’ve taken to post this.

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