Taste local brews at Belle Grove’s beer fest

MIDDLETOWN – Local brews will be poured at Belle Grove Plantation’s 22nd annual “Of Ale and History” beer fest on Saturday.

The beer festival, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature tastings of beer and hard cider from local breweries and distributors, including Dixie Beverage Company, Virginia Eagle Distributing Company, Backroom Brewery, Winchester Cider Works, Winchester Brew Works, Three Notch’d Brewing Company, Old Bust Head Brewing Company, Woodstock Brewhouse, Alesatian Brewing Company and Solomon’s Hard Cyder.

Belle Grove Executive Director Kristen Laise said about 2,500 people typically turn out for this annual beer tasting event.

Belle Grove Program Assistant Rich Coyle said the festival is the longest running beer festival in Virginia. He said they will be pouring 63 beers and ciders, showcasing beers of the Shenandoah Valley.

There will be musical entertainment throughout the day. The Robbie Limon Band, a five-piece band playing 1970s top hits, will perform from 11: 30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The 1980s cover band The Reflex will be onstage from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Shenandoah Country Q102 and 99.3 The Fox radio personalities will be at the festival all day.

New to the festival this year will be three speakers on beer, cider and brewing. At 1:30 p.m., Stephen Shuurman, a cidermaker at Winchester Cider Works, will speak about bringing cider of his native England to the Shenandoah Valley. At 2:30 p.m., Lee Graves, an author, will speak on the history of Virginia beer. At 3:30 p.m., Billie Clifton, owner of Middletown’s Backroom Brewery, will speak about their hop farm brewery.

Food throughout the event will be provided by Royal Siam Catering, Shaffer’s BBQ Palace, Cristina Café’s Sexi-Mexi Food Truck, A-1 Kettle Korn and the Little Red Snack Shack.

Local vendors and the Belle Grove Museum Shop will offer gifts for purchase, and house tours of Belle Grove will take place during the event as well. Vendors include Long Ridge Cigars, India Imports, The Gypsy Catwalk, Clark and Hopkins, Eclections, Dragonfly Jewelers, Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, Virginia Beer Museum, Lularoe, Mata’s Menagerie, Chocolate Moonshine, Cape Woolamai Mechant Co. and Ocean’s Away.

Coyle added that this event is primarily a fundraiser for Belle Grove to keep the site open year after year.

“Belle Grove Plantation is 300 acres of history here,” he said. “This house is over 220 years old. Perhaps the finest example of 18th century living that we have in the Shenandoah Valley.”

He added that their mission is education and they often have students from surrounding schools visiting on field trips.

“Our job is to try and kindle a little interest in a young mind regarding history,” he said.

He said Belle Grove is associated with the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, but it receives no funding from these groups.

Coyle added that the featured beverage host of the 2017 beer fest is Yuengling and the souvenir glass sponsor is Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders.

Festival gates open at 11 a.m. and tastings will be offered from noon to 5:30 p.m. Advanced tasting tickets are on sale at www.bellegrove.org. Tickets can also be purchased at all area Handy Mart locations and the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center,  1400 South Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester, and at the Belle Grove Museum Shop.

Tasting tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate and include a commemorative tasting glass and eight beer tastings in addition to access to all performances, speakers, vendors, and tours of Belle Grove’s 1797 Manor House. Additional tastings may be purchased for $2 after 2 p.m. Designated drivers or guests under 21 years old can purchase general admission for $10.

Those attending are encourage to bring their own chairs or pop-up tents, but no outside food or beverages will be allowed in. The event will be held rain or shine.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com