Since we were camping at this year's FloydFest - actually sleeping in my car - and didn't have to drive an hour to a hotel room - there was greater freedom to indulge in the various wine and beer offered. We consumed more beer than wine, just the nature of an outdoor music festival. Two neighboring wineries were pouring, Villa Appalaccia Winery and Chateau Morrisette. Actually, the two are very active participants, with Villa Appalaccia located within walking distance and Chateau Morrisette offering its concert field for parking. The most popular wines seemed to be Chateau Morrisette's white and red sangria. Whenever we visited their station, representatives couldn't keep up with demand. I liked the white sangria - it had just enough touch of lemon to sooth a thirst. I only tries one of Villa Appalaccia's wines, their Simpatico - pairing with a spicy burrito dinner.
But beer was on the agenda, with three breweries taking most of our action. Crozet's Starr Hill Brewing was the easiest to reach, being situated adjacent to the Garden stage. Its also nice that they were pouring two of our favorites, the Jomo Lager and Pale Ale. The lager satisfies a thirst with a nice balance between malt and hops, whereas the pale ale is much stronger and pairs beautifully while listening to music. Slow drinking.
Another brewery we attended frequently was The River Company Restaurant and Brewery, out of Radford. They were conveniently located at the entrance to the Beer Garden but served two completely different beers (among others) that kept us coming back. Farmhouse Hefeweizen was a refreshing hefe, with the traditional sweet wheat flavor and a smooth balanced tail. This was nice. For something completely different we drank their Dumpster Dog Porter, made from seven different types of malt. This is a big beer, with bits of the chocolate flavor associated with our favorite porters. The beer finished strong as well - a nice ride from start to finish.
The final brewery in the Beer Garden that we frequented often was Foothills Brewing, from Winston Salem. We first "discovered" this brewery at last year's Floydfest and each year come to appreciate their offerings even more. Foothills beers tend to be a tad hoppier than competing brands and even their lightest, Torch Pilsner, had a little more hops than more traditional pilsners. That doesn't mean the beers are bitter, they just exude different characteristics - perhaps a little more spiciness. The Torch Pilsner is your everyday festival beer - smooth and refreshing, and at one point my favorite of their offerings. Their Pilot Mountain Pale Ale is stronger, with two other IPA's rounding out the first day's selections. The IPA's are both hop monsters, more suited to consume with food as they cleanse the palate quickly. But the greatest treat came when brewmaster Jamie Bartholomaus rode up with a keg of Sexual Chocolate, an Imperial Stout, that's the bomb. This beer is strong, creamy; but smooth and drinkable. Not afraid of drinking dark beers during the day, we consumed several of these - it was a hit.
By Saturday night we had discovered the VIP tent, with some beers found in the Beer Garden but a completely new collection from a home brewer from the area. I never made it back to meet the brewer, but his beers were quite good - particularly the Pilsner and Black Lager. Next year I'll have to spend more time in the VIP tent learning more about this mystery brewer.