I have many beer loving friends whose wives and girlfriends love wine but can never drag them out to visit wine country. Now, there's finally a place that will attract both - Corcoran Brewing and Corcoran Vineyards. The latter has been open for almost a decade now, producing some of our favorite Virginia wines - particularly Viognier and Malbec. But the former is a new establishment, having opened late spring 2011, and producing several beer styles available in growlers.
We returned last weekend after visiting the brewery right before its grand opening. Upon reaching the Corcoran grounds (Waterford VA - Loudoun County), the brewery sits on a small plot adjacent to the winery and hop farm. Head straight ahead to the red barn to sample the beer or continue to the historic tasting room further down the road on the right.
The brewery was our first stop - particularly with a few seasonals "still available" on tap. "Still available" is always a relative term when referring to this nano brewery. Their production is so limited (brewer Kevin Bills brews primarily only on Saturday), they regularly run out of their everyday beers - the P'ville Pale, Catoctin Ale, LoCo IPA. It seems this shortage will soon be alleviated as larger fermenting tanks were resting in the tasting area - ready to install. On this Saturday afternoon, many of the brews had run their course from an early rush before the Hokie game. I was able to taste the P'ville Pale and LoCo IPA; preferring the lower IBU of the pale ale as opposed to the hoppier IPA. On this day, the brewery had three seasonals available: the Padawan Pumpkin, Emmanubräu Ale, and Round Hill Root Ale. The latter two are interesting versions of winter ales (i.e. spicy flavors) - but the Pumpkin was easily my favorite. The beer is brewed using pumpkins from local farms (Wegemeyer and Great Country Farms), local honey, and pumpkin pie spices. The latter spices are very subtle - the pumpkin and honey are more prolific - and this is one easy drinking beer. Perhaps my favorite pumpkin ale tasted this season. They may have some left over the next couple weeks - but hurry.
Afterwards, I was also able to spend a little time in the winery with Jim Corcoran discussing the 2010 vintage. The best news - Viognier is back. The 2009 crop from their estate was lost to a late spring frost; but the 2010 juice is promising, particularly since it was harvested before the early fall rain deluge. This wine has always been one of our favorite Viogniers - so we are looking forward to the wine maturing for an early 2012 (?) release. They are also fermenting Riesling - and its always nice to see this variety , particularly when the fruit comes from Benevino Vineyards. Eventually this wine will be off-dry - but the early juice has that savory Riesling aroma and flavor. Nice. Beside the Chambourcin aging in Bowman Bourbon barrels, we tasted a few fermenting reds - the Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Tannat. The CF is light and fruit forward - winemaker Lori Corcoran's preference - whereas the PV and Tannat are stronger with more acidity. The latter two will be balanced by adding a small qualities of other varietals - most likely Merlot.
It looks like 2012 will be a tremendous year for both Corcoran establishments. I think its time to talk the little boy into another birthday party at Corcoran. With beer now onsite, we will have to expect more positive RSVPs. Cheers.