The Brew Ridge Trail is the series of breweries and cidery that runs from Nelson County to Crozet to Charlottesville. I’ve been to three on the trail--Devil’s Backbone, Blue Mountain, and Starr Hill—but hadn’t been to Albemarle Cider Works and Wild Wolf. Since I was completing my “bucket list” of wineries and breweries, Ellie and I went to Wild Wolf.
For a long time, Wild Wolf Brewing Company was in a smaller location, but recently opened a permanent home in an old, refurbished school house. Also on the property are five tobacco barns that have been refurbished and turned into boutiques. The whole property is a great statement to found spaces and revitalizing the old.
Wild Wolf has both a BrewPub and Sports Bar. Originally, Ellie and I had planned to just have a snack and try the beers, but the trip to White Hall had been such an adventure that a full meal seemed in order.
Because this was my one shot, I wanted to do a tasting to sample all the beers. I tried the main five for $5 and then paid an extra $1.50 to try the seasonal beer, the Double Saison. The five beers were four Wild Wolf creations—Autumn Ale, Pils, Howling Pumpkin, and a Porter—and a guest beer called the Hoppyum by Foothills Brewing Company. Each had very different flavors. . . .
- Hoppyum: I’m not a big fan of IPA’s, and the Hoppyum was a little too bitter with strong grapefruit notes for my taste.
- Wild Wolf Pils: Clean, smooth, with a slight corn finish.
- Howling Pumpkin: Very interesting with a strong pumpkin flavor. Good for sipping in the fall while enjoying the foliage.
- Wild Wolf Porter: The favorite. Coffee notes and full body, but not a porter that leaves you feeling full.
- Autumn Ale: A good standard red and somewhat like Killian’s Irish. Overall, a very nice sipping beer
- Double Saison: Lots of honey and peaches, making for a sweet beer. On first sip, Ellie and I were big fans and then it got a little too sweet for a before dinner or sipping beer. Better with food to help cut the sweetness.
As well as interesting beers, I enjoyed the food. Full of exciting appetizer options, like Root Beer BBQ wings or mussels and chorizo, and entree options, like butternut squash risotto or seared salmon with cheesy polenta, but I decided to try the “Veg Delight.” The “Veg Delight” is a sandwich of puffy bread, basil marinated tofu, portabella mushroom, parmesan, spinach, and a slight dressing. Although tofu sandwiches are very hit or miss, this was really satisfying. Although the roll was a little too much bread, the tofu was flavorful, the mushroom rich, and the combination satiating. Served with a side of seasonal vegetables consisting of Romanesco, cheddar, and purple cauliflower, it was a very appeasing and fabulous meal.
Wild Wolf confirmed a hypothesis I’ve had. Route 151, the road the runs through Nelson County, is turning into a must visit for the microbrewery crowd. Within about 45 minutes, you can hit three fantastic breweries and enjoy both well-developed beers and menus. Just make sure to pace yourself and enjoy the scenery.