Monday, March 21, 2011

Charlottesville Pubs

This weekend, Mrs Velkyal and I had guests, namely Mrs V's best friend and her husband, who drove up from Greenville in South Carolina to spend a few precious hours boozing with us. Just how much boozing it is possible to cram in to slightly less than 40 hours is quite impressive really.

Naturally we took them to our usual hangouts, Friday afternoon a few pints in Beer Run - where they had the wonderful O'Hara's Irish Stout on tap, and the red incidentally - much nicer on tap than in the bottle. Just a minor aside, a pint (yes, a proper pint) of Guinness is $6, a pint of O'Hara's was $6.50. 50 cents difference between a quality, Irish made product and Guinness? Just a hint chaps, ditch the Guinness and have O'Hara's as your standard stout! Sure some people might moan a bit for a wee while, but I defy anyone to taste them side by side and not be won over immediately.

As our guests had driven 6 hours to get here, we decided against a heavy night on the booze, and headed home to attack the cellar and enjoy Mrs V's home-cooked dinner - another aside, if you are of a crafty persuasion, as in knitting, crocheting and such like, Mrs V is now blogging about her stuff and you can see her blog here.

Saturday though was planned to be drinking day. Can you guess where we took them? Of course you can if you are a regular reader of Fuggled, but before we got there we ventured off our regular beaten track and found Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery, where we enjoyed sampling their fruit wines and mead. I am coming to the conclusion that Nelson County is full of boozers and foodies and so if we ever buy a house here, then Nelson County is high on the list of places to look. Having sampled and purchased some stuff, and with me admittedly getting a touch agitated because I wanted a pint, we finally made it to.........yes, you guessed it, Devils Backbone, still the only place in the area we have taken every single, and married, visitor we have had. I won't bore you with details, but the Backbone has gathered another couple of fans.

Coming back into town, Mrs V had a work function to attend, and so her friend went with her and myself and Mr Friend were off to the pubs of the town centre. First on the list? Court Square Tavern. I am sure that I don't say this often enough, because I waffle about Beer Run and Devils Backbone so much, but this little pub is one of my favourite places in the city, and vastly under-rated. Here's why I like to head in on a Friday or Saturday night: top bar staff, cozy atmosphere and Czech lager, admittedly bottled, but still, I am partial to a glass of B.B. Burgerbrau as the pale lager from the oldest brewery in Budweis is called over here, and Žatec is always a decent pint as well. In the 18 months since I have been here, the Tavern has improved steadily and hopefully this will continue in the future.

Next up was South Street Brewery, a place I go to far less often than I probably should - especially as it is right opposite my office and opens at just about the right time for post work drinkies. The problem I find is that many of their beers are uninspiring and so I will often wander a little further from the office to go to Beer Run. However, it is one of the most beautiful pubs from an architectural point of view that I have ever seen. We popped in and I had a pint of their Aisling Stout, which I describing thusly: "looks like a stout, smells like a stout, tastes like a stout" - it hit the spot. And so on we went, with my taking a mental note that I should give the entire South Street range another try.

Our next watering hole was a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time, Horse and Hound, a British style gastropub (I hate that term with a passion - it tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of the business). Now, I am perfectly willing to accept that having not lived in Britain for more than a decade a couple of things may have happened. The British pub may have changed beyond all recognition or my nostalgia for the British pub has severely rose-tinted my vision. I was not impressed, not impressed in the slightest. The beer range itself is decent enough, but my experience of the staff was that they were surly and disinterested. Having had my pint (no not a proper pint) we wandered off to find somewhere else - with me muttering viciously.

And so we came to Escafe, another little place just round the corner from where I work, and conveniently opposite the venue of Mrs V's work function, which was slowly coming to its end. I like Escafe, it feels like a bar, and that's a good thing in my pub-centric world. Not pretentious, just simple. In there we ran into the other widowers of our better halves' function and then the phone rang and it was time to pull the plug and head home.

A good night out all told, my usual haunts lived up to their billing, one place will need revisiting and the other, well perhaps I shouldn't be so opinionated and hasty.


  1. This is the first I've seen of O'Hara's in the US! That's outstanding news. I hope they get distributed in this direction as well.

  2. VA-151 is an alcohol drinker's paradise.

    Incidentally, if you buy a house in Nelson, please make sure it's within stumbling distance of Devil's Backbone and has a comfortable floor. ;)

  3. Dan,

    trust me, air beds can be provided!


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