Monday, January 17, 2022

Nelson County Route 151: Bryant’s Cidery & Brewery

This Saturday I had an engaging visit to Bryant’s Cidery & Brewery where founder Jerry Thornton was managing the taproom. Over a couple of flights of cider and beer, he provided an overview of his operation and the significant history of the Century Farm property.  In 1865, Maj Waller Massie Boyd returned from the Civil War and was given a tract of land by his father that included an overseer’s log cabin.  Boyd established an orchard called Edgewood which has remained in the same family through six generations for these 155+ years establishing the Century Farm designation. Thornton recalled the reasoning behind the name, "by the early 1900s a granddaughter of Boyd married R.L Bryant whose family farmed nearby. R.L expanded the orchards and built the infrastructure to support the farm".  Historic photos document the family and property's response through aviation in both world wars and to national calamities. 

In establishing the cider house, Thornton refurbished a barn for the tasting room and the overseer’s log cabin for the production facility. The taproom has a very rustic feel with the walls populated with historic photos documenting the family and property's response through aviation in both world wars and to national calamities. He also kept the feeding trough and reclaimed beams and boards & planks from the 1700s.

Bryant's offers a diverse selection of ciders with many infused with fruit or aged in barrel. For the tart sour beer fam in me, I enjoyed the Unicorn Fuel, a brut cider infused with organic rosehips and hibiscus. The Legend (I believe that was the name) was another favorite - a cider infused with coffee and cocoa bits. For the beer, the Roberta's Revenge Stout is solid - far from an Irish stout and more an American stout with chewy malts and dark chocolate on the tail.

However, the cider that immediately captured my attention and proved that Thornton was a serious producer was the brut Brite Good.  This cider is bone dry but packs plenty of tart apple flavor, finishing with refreshing effervescence. I mentioned the possibility of blending with Campari and confirmed the next day that this combination works beautifully.

I'm looking forward to visiting their Richmond taphouse during CiderCon early next month. But for those who are touring Nelson County's Route 151 or staying at Wintergreen, just keep driving south -- over the mountain pass -- to Bryant and the cider house. It's well worth the extra 20 minutes.

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