The weekend forecast is looking summery and if your thoughts turn to cold beer, you won’t be alone! Downtown Culpeper is the place to be Saturday, April 29 for the Fifth Annual Gnarly Hops and Barley Festival.

Brought to you by Culpeper Renaissance Inc, it takes place from Noon to 5 p.m. in the Spencer Street parking lot. The focus is American Craft Brews and more than 70 will be on tap for sampling. That’s right, more than 70!

It’s a fantastic opportunity to check out breweries you may not be familiar with and always fun to revisit some local favorites. Culpeper’s very own Beer Hound Brewery is participating and one of the newest additions to the local scene from our neighbors in Madison is Bald Top Brewery.

Some other Virginia favorites are Old Bust Head, Smartmouth, Pale Fire, Chaos Mountain, Brothers Craft Brewing, Blue Mountain, Hardywood and many more. As if that isn’t enough, there are quite a few new additions outside of Virginia too. Captain Lawrence from New York, Alpine Brewing and AleSmith from California and Ninkasi from Oregon,

This festival is also a great way to experience a variety of different styles. Sure, most everyone loves an IPA, it continues to be one of the most popular styles among craft beer drinkers. However, there are so many more to discover.

Sour beers are a style/category that’s showing up more and more lately. While it may seem new, it’s really just experiencing a revival. Sour beers have been around since the beginning because most beers were somewhat sour due to the presence of wild yeast strains and bacteria in the beer making process.

Fast forward to modern beer making times and everything changed to brewing in a sterile controlled environment. It has just been recently that brewers are going back to traditional methods and experimenting with wild yeast.

One in particular is Brettanomyces or Brett is commonly used and it lends that acidic tart/sour fun and funky flavor, even perceived as earthy. Beyond sours, you can taste wine and bourbon barrel aged beers, fruit beers, wheat beers brewed with herbs and spices, amber ales and the list goes on.

In addition to all the beer fun, Gnarly Hops and Barley offers Virginia Cider, live music throughout the day, numerous food and craft vendors and, most important, a really good time right in your back yard. Cheers!

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Kim Kelly owns Vinosity in downtown Culpeper. She can be reached at 540/829-9463.

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