Thursday, June 24, 2010

Floyd, VA and Shooting Creek Farm Brewery: Part II

From what I read, Shooting Creek Farm Brewery sits tucked away down a narrow out of the way road in a remote part of Floyd County, VA.  Then again, that describes just about everything in Floyd.  Try finding the County's two wineries, Chateau Morrisette and Villa Appalachia, without some good directions and you'll quickly learn.  Both warn patrons not to use their usually handy gps units for directions. Nevertheless, the remote location was part of a controversy that held up Shooting Creek's brewing license before the brewery agreed to not serve beer on premises. 

Shooting Creek's beer is easier to find than the brewery. I saw it all over Floyd and other parts of the New River Valley during my recent visit. We stopped in at Oddfella's Cantina on the Friday night of my trip for some great food and a celtic music jam session before heading over to the Floyd Country Store for the Friday Night Jamboree.   Oddfella's Cantina had two beers on tap, plus a nice selection of bottled beer. On tap were Highland Brewing Co. (Asheville, NC) Oatmeal Porter and Shooting Creek Brewery Red Tractor Ale. Oatmeal Porter? Yeah, that's where I'm going to start nine times out of ten. But that's for a later post.

Shooting Creek's Farmhouse Stout was on Oddfella's beer bottle menu, so I ordered one after enjoying the Oatmeal Porter.  Our server came back to tell me they were out, but they did have Shooting Creek's Capsicum Stout if I'd like to have that instead.  Huh? Sure. Who wouldn't want to dive into a perfectly fine stout brewed with habanero peppers?

For years I've grown hot chili peppers in my garden.  I usually do two types: Mucho Nacho, a mild version of jalapeno that is great for quesadillas and nachos and Ring of Fire, a cayenne-like pepper that is great for drying and use in stir fries.  Not once have I ever thought of using either in beer.

I think my family enjoyed the beer more than I did.  Mind you, they didn't try it. They simply had fun watching my reaction.  Apparently my face turned red, though I'm disputing that claim and there are no pictures to prove otherwise.  I started with a sip and found the initial flavor to be a mild chocolate-focused stout base. This was followed by a mild heat from the peppers that caught at the back of the throat.  It was an interesting mix. As I took bigger swallows, the heat and pepper flavor increased and became the dominant flavor, though always with a stout background.

I'll say this. I'm glad I tried it.  I've tried hundreds of different beers, a number with various adjuncts like fruit, spices and chocolate. Some work for me, some don't.  In this case, it didn't work. One was enough.  But I'm quite glad the brewers went for it. Without a doubt there are some out there who will dig this beer.  One of the great things about craft brewing is the infinite variety a brewer can create with varying combinations of just a few ingredients. Frequently rotating, experimental batches of beer are the hallmark of our craft brewers and keeps us coming back time and time again.  

During my visit I had a chance to try two other Shooting Creek Brews, Red Tractor Ale and Buffalo Brown Ale and brought a third one home to Montana, Rebel Ale. I'm not quite sure what  the Red Tractor Ale was trying to be, though that's probably due to my unfamiliarity with the "old world Alt-beer" style. It is brewed with an heirloom corn grown on Shooting Creek's farm. That's totally cool. It was a dark reddish brown with an off white head.  I picked up a slightly malty aroma.  It had a medium body and the flavors of the malt base remind me of Alaskan Amber.  There's some floral hop flavor, but the bitterness is fairly balanced. I kept picking up on some flavors that I couldn't identify, though they had a biscuit like quality.  I'm guessing that was the corn.

As for the Buffalo Brown ale, one sip had me hooked. It pours a medium dark brown with an off white head. There's a caramel malt aroma which matches the caramel malt flavors. The base is slightly sweet, though it is well balanced with a fair amount of hops that come through in the finish.  It is smooth and easy drinking.  At 7.5% abv, it is well outside the norms for a brown ale, but I'm not complaining.  That gives you a sense of the malt base this beer packs. I'm sorry I only had one to try.

I dig these guys and their handbuilt, homegrown and handcrafted ethic.  They're off to a great start in Floyd County, Virginia and I hope to get to try more of their fun brews.

[Part I of Floyd, VA and Shooting Creek Farm Brewery is here.]

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, as of June, 2011, the brewery has closed.  Sad news.

UPDATE No. 2:  Though Shooting Creek has not reopened, two of its beers have been revived.  Per this February 7, 2014, Roanoke Times blog post, Blue Mountain Brewing is now brewing Shooting Creek's Rebel Rye and Buffalo Brown. 


  1. Hi Alan - I enjoyed reading your post. The Shooting Creek brews are starting to catch on here in Richmond, Va now - largely by word of mouth.

  2. That's great news. I'm looking forward to my next trip back to Virginia so I can try out some more Shooting Creek and other Virginia brewery brews.