On Saturday, I picked up my honorary aunt, MaryMary and we went “over the mountain” (as folks ‘round here say) and headed to the 4th annual Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in Harrisonburg, VA. This year, they had 31 breweries/cideries and three bands, four local restaurants set up in tents, and, thank God, enough portapotties for everyone in attendance.
MaryMary and I left Culpeper around 1 o’clock on Saturday while threatening looking rain clouds (or as my Grandma “Bill” would call them, “weather clouds”) started to roll in. As we climbed the mountain, the sky got clearer and it looked as though we would escape the threat of rain. I was excited just to spend time with my kindred spirit and to be out in the sun. I was not, however, looking forward to the temptations that I knew awaited me when we arrived: bbq, burgers, and lots and lots of beer and cider. I was prepared though: that morning, I drank my powered chicken, er…protein smoothie, and had my lunch of stuffed pepper and noshed on almonds on my way over the mountain. I also prepped a protein shake and threw that in my purse along with carrots and hummus.
By the time we found parking and arrived at the end of a very long line of waiting ticket holders, I thought it best to try to choke down the protein shake. Much to my chagrin, the damned thing had leaked in my purse and was warm. Nothing better in life that a warm protein shake. I guzzled as much as I could stomach as MaryMary and I waited in line behind a ridiculously annoying group of early to mid twenty-somethings. I wouldn’t go back to that stage in life if you paid me. Aah, to be older…and kinda, somewhat, maybe a little wiser?
The first vendor we hit was Bold Rock, out of Nelson County, Virginia; not my favorite cidery, but a decent replacement as I couldn’t find one of my most favorite brands, Crispin. If you’ve never had Crispin, you simply must. They make a delightfully refreshing, light and flavorful product in two varieties: apple & pear.
After MaryMary enjoyed a ridiculously good looking bbq sandwich from Clementine’s, we hit Devils Backbone (Roseland, Virginia); they offered a tasting of pear lager which was interesting and very dry and had light elements of pair in the finish. We were fortunate enough to meet up with MaryMary’s son, Jamie and his beautiful girlfriend Kate at the festival and they were able to lead us to the Crispin tasting spot and because he was part of organizing the event, got us samples without having to stand in line!
Jamie has been a part of the beer world for years and before moving back to Harrisonburg, announced that he will be opening his own brewery with partners, Pale Fire Brewing Company . We were able to tour his new brewery space while at the festival, and though right now the space is lookin’ a little rough, Jamie has a vision and I’m sure that his hard work and perseverance will pay off and Pale Fire Brewing Company will be a big success.
While at the festival, I was able to catch a great band out of Connecticut, Bronze Radio Return. They’re touted as an American roots music band, but they sounded to me more like a crossover band with American roots music influences. Their band included a banjo, a harmonica, both sounds that I love.
Beer festivals are an interesting thing: they bring out all walks of life. Hippies and CEOs; young & old; stupid and not so stupid; drunkards and connoisseurs. They merge drink and food and music, three of my favorite things. Perhaps at the next beer festival, I’ll be in a position where I can splurge and enjoy the drink and food a little more than I did this time around. But this time around, I went home knowing that I was sacrificing for a better body the next day. And that isn’t a small feat.