Southside brews: James River Brewing opens in Scottsville

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Dustin Caster and three friends, all named Chris, opened Scottsville's James River Brewing Company in early September. Photo: John Robinson Dustin Caster and three friends, all named Chris, opened Scottsville's James River Brewing Company in early September. Photo: John Robinson

Nelson County’s not the only place to go for local beer. Champion Brewing Company, a nanobrewery off Avon Street, will be on Downtown Charlottesville’s map by Thanksgiving weekend, and Scottsville, our neighbor to the south, just got its own place for suds. James River Brewing Company, owned by a team of four beer-loving friends (three of whom are named Chris) opened on September 1 in a circa 1839 tobacco warehouse.

The tasting room, which seats about 28, has a window that overlooks the tank room, and was built with a green design that was a pooled effort of several local contractors and artisans. The result is part “Cheers” and part “Twin Peaks.”

The non-Chris on the team, Dustin Caster, an archaeologist-turned-brewmaster, has six beers on tap with a few barrel-held reserves that are labors of love. They even get engendered as such —a pistachio-based beer is his “Green-Eyed Lady” and a chocolate-raspberry stout, his “Kind Woman.”

No one’s likely to complain about the prices. Value was at the top of the list for the team and with no pint over $4.50 and no growler over $12, the beer’s as refreshing on the palate as it is on the wallet.

With new legislation that allows breweries to sell pints on-premise without operating a restaurant, James River Brewing has nixed its original plan to open a restaurant on the second floor and, instead, encourages guests to order from Amici’s Italian Restaurant and have their pizza or mozzarella sticks delivered to the brewery.

Monday is guest bartender night (former mayor Dave Norris was manning the taps on October 8) when $1 from every pint sold goes to charity, and Tuesday is trivia night. For now, off-premise sales will be limited to bottles and growlers sold directly from the brewery. And, just in time for the holiday season, kegs will be available through the grocery stores.

Pick a direction, pick a beer.

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