This is a brewery with a great logo, a cool Virginia-centric name reference, and great graphics, all of which set the tone for high expectations.
A tough thing is that this brewery is a pretty big trip from most parts of Virginia (though it is awesome that it’s here for locals). Still, we’re not one’s to mind a destination brew trip and, being in the Roanoke area already, Salem is just a hop skip and a jump away, so we put it on the agenda.
I will say that we had a tough time finding it — some weird roadways and backroad obscurity. That said, my Google Map app skills have since improved and I think if you have GPS or are good with Google Map directions you’ll be fine getting there.
But we were determined (our real destination later that day was the Blue Apron Restaurant in Salem), and we were already in the area, so we eventually found it.
This brewery is housed in a cavernous but architecturally indistinct tin warehouse — industrial, but not in the charming old school sense.
And the outside is nothing to write home about either — cement patio and picnic tables on a parking lot astride a road with no views to speak of. So for aesthetics, I think they could get themselves a downtown Salem taproom with real charm and save the industrial brewing setting for the bottling and distribution. This would also make it easier to get to, and pick up some downtown foot traffic to boot.
But clearly the place has a following, whether of locals or of destination brew hoppers like ourselves.
A nice band was playing old timey and bluegrass type music and that was nice. It seemed to be a regular occurrence and the patrons appeared totally into it because at about 4 o’clock on a Saturday the place was packed. Not exactly an acoustic paradise for the band (it was electrified), but no one seemed to mind much.
There’s an open floor plan and you can see all the brew equipment, which is always nice. It was separated by a somewhat flimsy but creatively upcycled palette fence — not by glass walls or anything foreboding (smaller scale outfit than say, visiting Devil’s Backbone or Starr Hill).
As far as the brewery goes, I really wish that picnic tables hadn’t gotten so intimately bound up with breweries — they’re starting to get on my nerves. Ditto plastic tables and chairs. Even a set of eclectic thrift store tables and chairs (mismatched) and painted in various colors would be better just to add some atmosphere.
We ended up on what seemed like dirty frat house couches near the bathroom since all the tables were full. Hopefully the crowd means they’ve got some cash flow for improving the interior before long.
I got the Factory Girl Session IPA which was conveniently not a high ABV, which I like. I didn’t want to feel full or tipsy since we were headed out to a nice dinner.
It was very tasty.
I also paid $4 extra for a fundraiser glass that supported a local wilderness program and so was able to add a very cool glass to our growing brew-glass collection (my hubby is a gifted home brewer so having glasses on hand helps with his tastings).
As the brewer, hubby wanted the flight. Too bad flights too often want to include a Porter or Stout, which always turns me off — not everyone’s cup of tea. But he’s willing to try anything. He called all the beer good, saying it was “very drinkable.”
Outside was Thai This, a food truck which in all honestly had some of the best Thai food I’ve had in Virginia EVER. I could really stand for that food truck to come up I81 to one of Staunton’s breweries sometime — I would go to the brewery just to get this Thai food.
We had the chicken soup and veg and pork egg rolls respectivelywhich probably wasn’t wise because it made us less hungry when we went to the Blue Apron that night.
We had a pleasant time, it’s clearly popular with the locals, and it’s a fine experience overall (and definitely tasty beer) but if it was me, I’d bump up the aesthetics a little bit and maybe shift the tasting room to a more in-town location while keeping the brewery itself out there in the boonies.
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia