I admit to a bias: I enjoy visiting Waynesboro, Va. The town gracefully merges upscale and down-home, trendy and traditional.
Along with an in-town trout river and greenway, proximity to a national park, national forests, and two of the nation’s finest scenic roadways, and its location squarely in the middle of the historic Shenandoah Valley, Waynesboro has added an assemblage of idiosyncratic brew pubs, beverage producers, and classic, informal dining venues.
Perhaps emblematic of Waynesboro’s distinctive gastronomy, Stable Craft Brewery combines a comfortable tap room with “chef-inspired, locally sourced menu items in an agri-pub setting.” Located at Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, a working horse farm, Stable Craft is more of a destination than simple brew pub. While it showcases its IPAs, horse-shoe pits, fire pits, and a schedule of events such as “Pints and Ponies Night” entice patrons to linger and enjoy more than a beer and burger.
Whereas Stable Craft is a trip to the country, Basic City Brewery and Hops Kitchen move craft brews and innovative cuisine into town. A production brewery housed in a historic industrial setting, Basic City keeps 12 beers on tap, while Hops Kitchen infuses Basic City’s beer into its fare. Try the satay, shumai, or duck wings, as well as the burgers. Hops Kitchen’s setting in a food truck, backed into the building, enhances the steam punk vibe, and the family- friendly “kids’ bar” lets youngsters create their own sodas.
Seven Arrows Brewing Company offers a completely different ambiance, halfway between urban and horse country. Serving a dozen beers, including five German-style lagers, Ben Demory, chef in the brewery's Nobos Kitchen, calls the Skyline Lager a “... gateway into the world of craft beers.” He encourages pairing his brews with foods from on-site Nobos Kitchen. Seven Arrows is owned and operated by husband and wife Aaron and Melissa Allen.
Drawing its roots from the world of food trucks, Nobos features house-made tater tots and burgers made from locally sourced Buffalo Creek beef. Along with lunch and dinner, Nobos offers a brunch menu with special spritzer drinks.
The Fishin’ Pig is a classic. Serving Memphis-inspired smoked meats and fresh seafood, it is the epitome of a Southern-style barbecue joint. Using a Memphis dry rub, the chefs slow-smoke the meats over seasoned hickory, white oak, and fruitwood. Look for such Dixie favorites as pulled pork, fried catfish, and fried green tomatoes. The Fishin’ Pig also serves Stable Craft, Basic City, and other local brews.
Beer is not Waynesboro’s only craft beverage. At The Farmhaus Coffee Co., the bean rules. Owners Aaron and Bethany Mallory serve Blanchard’s Coffee, craft-roasted in Richmond, to ensure a range of flavor profiles to suit individual tastes. A light, seasonal menu of breakfast and lunch dishes, such as avocado toast and granola parfaits, complements the coffees. Upstairs, there are co-working and meeting spaces that draw young professionals, and dur- ing the warmer months, Farmhaus schedules live music on the patio.
The French Press also offers a full menu of iced and hot coffee, as well as teas. While its atmosphere — and the view out the windows — is “in town,” it still has enough “country” to feel comfortable. The French Press also serves baked goods, lunch, and Sunday brunch.
Along with more traditional beverages, Waynesboro is home to Blue Ridge Bucha, brewing craft kombucha, one of the newest “power beverage” trends. Using USDA-certified organic ingredients, local water, and proprietary kombucha culture, Blue Ridge produces around 1,000 gal-lons each week.
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Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Maryland. Visit his website at reedhellmanwordsmith.com.