Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spencer Devon Brewing

We've been anxiously awaiting the opening of Fredericksburg's newest craft brewery since last year, and the wait is over. Located in historic downtown, Spencer Devon Brewing held its official grand opening on April 24. However, it wasn't until this week that we finally were able to visit. And it was well worth the wait!

Joined by our friend "Checkered Flag," Colleen and I ventured in for dinner Wednesday evening. Naturally we got the beer ordering out of the way first, choosing from the six beers being poured. I selected Fall Line APA, Colleen the Sunken Road Belgian Blonde, and Rocko's Milk Stout for our friend.

The first impression we all remarked upon was the fresh and unique aroma of the beers. To me, the aroma is as important as the taste, and these ales were deliciously fragrant. And then the sipping commenced...

Colleen remembered the photo - Pale Ale and Belgian Blonde

"Wow." "Wonderful." "Delicious." Those are some of the words we exclaimed. To a person, despite different personal style preferences, we were unanimous in liking each of the beers. My selection, the Fall Line APA, I would rank as one of the best Pale Ales I've had recently. The hops were sharp and fresh. Citrus and pine notes in a flavorful balance led to a glass that was empty much too soon. The finish was clean and refreshing. If I wasn't determined to try another of the brewery's beers, I would have had another. However, in the interest of research, I next ordered a pint of Bitter Sweet IPA. This too was an excellent beer. A dark copper color with an earthy fruitiness, it is a fine English-style IPA.

Since we were there for dinner as well, I shouldn't forget to mention the food. Chef Justin Cunningham has created an interesting and unique menu. It so happened that the night we visited coincided with the first appearance of burgers on the food selection. Spencer Devon has teamed up with Monrovia Farms to purchase sides of beef to be made into steaks and burgers. The tasty, juicy burgers are served with pickled carrots and asparagus on the side (delicious!) and I enjoyed mine with a side of tangy potato salad instead of fries. I'm very much looking forward to those steaks too.

In order to do a proper review, we decided to splurge and have dessert. I ordered the bread pudding, while Colleen opted for Creme brûlée. The bread pudding was formed into a "cupcake" with ice cream on top. The third member of our party went back to the dinner menu and ordered the enticing Sausage Stuffed Pork Belly from the appetizer menu. This threw the chef for a loop and he came out front to consult with our server, wondering if the first part of our meal had been forgotten. The appetizer consisted of the pork belly layered with sausage, rolled into a loaf and sliced. It had a crisp crust and wonderful smoky bacon flavor. I described it as "bacon bread." I suspect next time we'll order it properly at the start of our meal.

We immensely enjoyed our visit to Spencer Devon Brewery. Owner Shawn Phillips was there and we were pleased that he spent time to share some of his future plans. Fresh beer is always a treat, and all four beers we had were exceptional. The beers are distinctive and well crafted. A combination of excellent beer, tasty food and friendly service, makes Spencer Devon a hit in my book, and a welcome addition to the local craft beer scene. I know we will be back soon, and often. I can't wait to see what the brewers, and the chef, come up with next.

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