With four local breweries already established, Charlottesville has been carving out a brew trail amid its grapevines: It started with Starr Hill, where Mark Thompson has been brewing national award-winning beverages since the early ’90s. Now with a tasting room in Crozet and a recent distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch, this local favorite is bound to become as famous as that other local star of whom we like to say “we knew when.” Then came South Street Brewery in 1998, where master brewer Jacques Landry still quenches our thirst for handcrafted ales and lagers at a cozy, Downtown hot spot complete with copper bar and crackling fireplace. In 2007, South Street veteran Taylor Smack opened his own spot called Blue Mountain Brewery just over the Albemarle county line in Nelson, where he grows his own hops for a beer lineup that includes a lager, a wheat, a pale ale, a Belgian-style ale and a stout. Finally (so far, anyway) just a little farther up the road near Wintergreen Resort, Devil’s Backbone, the newest addition to the beer scene, offers a wide range of handcrafted brews. Brewer Jason Oliver concocted one gold and three silver medal-winning brews at this year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Now that we can walk tall like a real beer town, we need to talk like one too, so if you’re less than beer savvy grab a six-pack and study up on this lingo.
Ale Beers produced with top-fermenting yeast strains at warmer temperatures, resulting in a fruity character.
Barley A cereal grain that is malted for use in brewing beer.
Belgian/French/Trappist Ale “Sipping” beers with higher alcohol content, stronger tastes and different glassware.
Draft The process of dispensing beer from a tank, cask or keg.
Hefe The German word for “yeast,” used mostly in conjunction with wheat (weiss) beers to denote that the beer is bottled or kegged with the yeast in suspension (hefe-weiss) and therefore cloudy, frothy and very refreshing.
Hops An herb used to preserve and to add a pleasant bitter aroma and flavor to beer.
India Pale Ale (IPA) An ale that is particularly hoppy and bitter—and sometimes malty.
Lager Beers produced with bottom-fermenting yeast strains at colder temperatures, inhibiting the production of esters, thus creating a crisper-tasting beer.
Microbrewery Small brewery generally producing less than 15,000 barrels per year with a majority of off-premise sales.
Stout A subcategory of ales that are dark, often with a creamy head, and a taste of roasted barley.
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