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Our New Libations of Choice in “The Old Dominion” of Virginia

4 Nov

I was determined to sip some good local libations during my recent trek to Virginia. I spotted this six-pack (above) at Leesburg Vintner in historic downtown Leesburg. Nice little shop. Port City Brewing’s Monumental IPA is precisely that … monumental. Some might say “epic.” Really enjoyed it.

Port City’s IPA is a full-flavored brew. Not for the feint of heart. I personally like my beer with a little character and this variety certainly fits the bill. I shared the six with my two brothers and all parties agreed it was an excellent choice. Virginia has developed a pretty good history of winemaking. That history goes back to the days of Thomas Jefferson. Vineyards and wineries continue to thrive in the gentle hills surrounding Tommy’s Monticello. But you may also know that our forefathers were equally interested in making fine home brew. George Washington was very much into this, so it makes sense that a brewing tradition be reborn in The Old Dominion. Does my heart good to share this news with you.

I learned a few years back that legal moonshine was being sold in Virginia. It’s obviously not shipped across state lines or taken on board aircraft. So it took my recent visit home to introduce me to the many wonders of Virginia Lightning. I had sampled a little moonshine before, but it was the bootleg stuff (from the mountains of Western NC). It was OK, I guess. But it really required the addition of a mixer of some kind (in my case, apple cider) to make it truly enjoyable. This is not the case with Virginia Lightning. Distilled by the folks at Belmont Farms in Culpeper, VA, this small batch shine is smooth and, to my surprise, quite sweet.

The graphics of each bottle of Virginia Lightning add to the product’s folksy charm. Yet this is serious stuff. The flavor reminds me a bit of a fine Schnapps. The price is right too at about $14 per bottle. It imparts that familiar warm “burn” as it works its way down your gullet. It would be a perfect evening warm up on a cold winter’s day.  I might even prescribe it for the occasional medicinal purpose. Of course, I am not a doctor … nor do I play one on TV. I am not an alcoholic, either, so I was not able to finish off my fifth of corn whiskey over the course of my brief 4-day stay with my parents. This produced a windfall for my younger brother Mark, who gladly inherited the hooch once I jetted back to Alabama. My loss, his gain.

Port City Brewery – 3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria, VA

(703) 797-2739; www.portcitybrewing.com

Virginia Lightning – Culpeper, VA; www.moonshine.com

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Food Festivals in Dixie, November 2011

4 Nov

Looking for something fun to do this month? There are plenty of food festivals around the South even as the chilly weather sets in. Here’s just a sampling of some annual festivals in the land of Dixie. Whichever ones you decide to attend, we’re sure you’ll have an enjoyable time. Don’t eat too much!

November 4, 5, 6: Colfax Louisiana Pecan Festival http://www.lapecanfestival.com/

November 4-13: National Peanut Festival in Dothan, AL
http://www.nationalpeanutfestival.com/

November 4-13: New Braunfels Wurst Fest, TX
http://www.wurstfest.com/

November 4 & 5: Hog Happnin’ BBQ Championship in Shelby, NC
http://www.hoghappnin.com/

November 10-13: Port Barre Cracklin Festival in Louisiana
http://portbarrecracklinfestival.com/directions.html

November 13 & 14: Pig Fest in Richland, Georgia
http://www.cityofrichlandga.com/pigfest/index.htm

November 24-26: Food and Feasts of Colonial Virginia
http://www.historyisfun.org/foods-and-feasts.htm