By now you should have known that Friday, the 8th of November, was International Stout Day. One thing you may not have know, is that I decided to make Stout Day the date of my Inaugural Brewery Ride and I would head out to The Railhouse Brewery to kick things off! Though, I have mentioned it a few times over the week…
Well, the trek out there was 30 miles so we assumed it would take about 2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes. Following good old Google Maps… Well, lets just say it had us trying to ride through a compound that only people who do not exist can get into… So, we decided to reroute ourselves and take a road we knew fairly well… One called Longstreet… Yes, the name should tell you a bit about it. We were to ride 18 miles down it before switching off to another road. Sounded easy and simple. I mean sure, we are stuck in the middle of a pit so no matter which direction we left we would have to climb, but I had no idea that at one point the pavement on the road totally went away.
I guess I should have being I have been down it for work time and time again, but I never thought about it or considered it for riding. So for about 11 miles we were traveling extremely slow through rocks, clay, very soft white sand… yeah, just everything. My bike was continuously slipping in certain materials, but luckily this way it was essentially down hill and gravity kept me from sinking too bad.
I know people do work and train on the weekends, but I did not really think about them doing this on a 4 day weekend. We were passed by a squad of Bradley’s, which was the first time one have ever passed me while I was just out for a stroll… Kind of odd, but hey I usually do not see them unless I am working.
Anyway, once we got out of the sand we had only 10 miles left to ride… of course, right in front of us were some major hills. We attacked them and arrived feeling great! It took about 2 hours and 49 minutes but we could have killed it if we just would have found a way around to the paved road. Oh yeah, and we rode through a Cemetery…
Once we arrived we were greeted by the owner and the marketing director, who I have been talking with for a while about this ride. We got a tour around the brewhouse and the history of each of the members as well as the brewery. We found out that the Railhouse is a Veteran Owned and Operated brewery. Which is totally awesome, especially given this area. Each branch of the military was represented in some way and you could see their pride in that fact just by looking around and the stories they tell.
The Railhouse Brewery has only been open since December 2010 and their reach is a bit further than I was expecting. I thought it would just be around North Carolina, which is typical around these parts. Maybe even just the Eastern side of the state, which is also typical. But nope! They distribute in Fayetteville, Raleigh, Charlotte, all over South Carolina, and even in an area of New York where the namesake of their K(A)-Bar Brown Ale is located. Seriously, not what I was expecting but that is truly awesome that they can do that given the number of Barrels they produce each year.
I will share a few pictures from the brewery but it is something you really have to see. Each of those flags have very significant meaning and were given to the brewery by the people involved in the events of which they came. They even have a wall of honor for those who have fallen in battle. A new one is coming in soon that will pay a bigger tribute to those who fought to defend our nation. Since today happens to be Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on those who have been there for you and the real meaning behind what today is.
One thing I was not expecting when we got to the brewery is that a second brewing company was on site, Dirtbag Ales! I had no idea that the Railhouse was one of the only breweries in the State that does/allows contract brewing but that is pretty awesome. Talking with the Dirtbag Ales brewers/owners it was cool hearing their story. They have only been in existence since August and both of them were medics, as well. That gave us a few interesting things to talk about.
It finally came down to the time to try the beer. They were out of the brown ale, on this trip but hey, it was Stout Day! Though we did get an array of beers, and even one from Dirtbag Ales that was on tap, The Kolsch. I found it interesting that they brewed the beer with Blood Oranges. I should have asked how many pounds went into one batch, but it totally slipped my mind. They were working on an IPA in the brewhouse that day.
The Kolsch was a bit different from the ones I am used to. Maybe it was the use of real fruit rather than just pulling out esters from the yeast but I feel the bitterness from the hops and the blood oranges played well together. The citrus flavors and even scents on the nose were balanced and made this one quite enjoyable. I am usually on the fence for fruit beers but this is one I would have again.
The first beer from The Railhouse was the Pale Ale, which had a clean and crisp though, I picked up very distinct scents of apricots on the nose. Not out of place, just intersting to find that. A nice malt sweetness and light bitterness to balance it out. And only at 11 IBUs.
Because it was Stout Day, the next one we jumped into was the Mastiff Oatmeal Stout. I picked up roasted malt on the nose, kind of sharp, which also held over into the flavor realm. Balanced out by a smooth, creamy body to finish it out while not being overly heavy and full. Just flavorful. Apparently this is one of The Best Beers Being Produced In North Carolina, with multiple awards this year! So that has to mean something!
The vanilla porter was next in line and that was just a smooth drinking beer. The vanilla flavors lingered throughout this fairly light bodied porter. A nice blend of flavors and without overdoing it.
FCA IPA had a lot of tropical scents going on with it. I should have asked what hops they used, especially being it is a fairly new recipe compared to the rest of their line. A nice bitterness and a touch grassy in the finish. It is defined as a North Carolina IPA. No East Coast, or West Coast Distinction. Something all of it’s own.
We were lucky enough to get a rare tasting of a batch of Beergasm that has been aging in a barrel for about 2 years… and I feel the name of this Barley Wine pretty much summed it up. A lot of dark fruits comes through on the nose, a nice malty character, and exactly what you would expect. A slight alcoholic burn. Though, when it came to drinking it, it was fairly well masked and and just there in the background. A light char, cherries, and residual sweetness made this one worth savoring every last drop. They bottle a version of it, but I don’t see how it could compare to this. There are a couple of kegs out there for local events. Those of you that get to taste it, are extremely lucky.
I had a great time there and was even told to stop by on a brewday and help out around the place… If a day off works out with a brewday, I will for sure make it out there. Given the distance, it is totally a good place to ride out to on the weekend just to get my mileage in. Though, I will not be taking the sand road… So I see myself going back there on my bike for at least that reason. Check this place out for sure if you are in the area… Just make sure you watch out for the trains!