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Edible Blue Ridge Winter 2015 : Page16

the artisan issue KNOW YOUR BREWMASTER: a conversation with DAVE WARWICK of Three Notch’d Brewing Company E VEN A CASUAL OBSERVER of the local craft beer boom has probably noticed the impressive number of bar taps that Three Notch’d Brewing Company has captured since opening in August 2013. The man who makes the beer that flows from those taps is Dave Warwick, who grew up in Maryland and learned the brewer’s art with the Rock Bottom brewpub chain before fortuitously meeting the founding partners of Three Notch’d at a Virginia beer festival. Warwick recently gave us a tour of the brewery’s expanding facilities in Charlottesville, after which we bellied up to the tasting room bar to sample his creations—and his views on local craft beer. Warwick: Cascade is the number-one hop being grown in this area because it’s the most tolerant of the growing conditions in Virginia, which aren’t as ideal as in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also very versatile, very user-friendly, good for a lot of different beer recipes. EBR: Beer geeks are always on the hunt for new brews, though. Do you have a sour beer recipe ready to go? Warwick: Believe it or not, we brewed a sour beer yesterday. There is potential for sour beers to become much more popular. The problem is that a lot of brewers are afraid to brew them because the wild yeasts used to get that sourness are not easy to clean up and can infect the rest of the brewery. Plus, the bacteria in those yeasts take about a year to do their thing. So the sour beer we brewed yesterday won’t be on tap until next fall. EBR: Are you surprised how Three Notch’d has caught on? Warwick: [ laughs ] We’re more than thrilled, but honestly, our initial projections weren’t even close to analyzing how much the area would accept us. We thought we’d be successful, but we never dreamed we’d have to increase our brewing capacity by 150 percent after being open for a year. Our branding concept is wonderful and really captures the history of this area. Branding and the label art get the beer into people’s hands for the first time—then it’s my job to get the beer in their hands the second time. EBR: Three Notch’d also has a location in Harrisonburg. How does that work? Warwick: It’s a cool, unique situation. We have another brewmaster there, Mary Morgan, but she doesn’t worry about the flagship or main seasonal beers because I supply those. She has a small, one-barrel system and the freedom to do whatever she wants. So in her tap room, you’ll find some of the more unique beers. For example, she just did a sweet potato–curry beer. EBR: You and your wife moved from D.C. for this gig. How do you like it here? Warwick: Absolutely love it. D.C. was wonderful, but three years in that traffic was enough. We fell in love with Charlottesville because it has culture and history and great food, and yet you can be in the mountains in just a few minutes. Virginia is a beautiful, beautiful state. It’s got a little bit of everything, including great beer. For more about Three Notch’ d Brewing Company, go to threenotchdbrewing.com. Edible Blue Ridge: For a fairly young brewery, you’re cranking out quite a few different beer styles. Warwick: We have a pretty diverse lineup. We always have 12 beers on tap here in the tasting room, six of which are permanent and six of which are seasonal. We have an Irish Red, an English brown, an oatmeal stout, and so on. That said, our big flagship is 40 Mile IPA, which accounts for 60 percent of all the beer we brew. EBR: When did you know you wanted to be a brewer? Warwick: It dawned on me when I was celebrating my college graduation at a beautiful brewpub in Pennsylvania. I had a brand-new degree, and my first assistant job in the industry paid $8 an hour. I met a lot of really nice bill collectors that year. EBR: What is your beer-making philosophy? Warwick: I want to appeal to the masses the best I can, but step outside the boundaries just a bit. I make beers that are true to style, with a little twist. For example, our Hydraulion Red is a true-to-style Irish red, but it’s a little on the sweeter side to make it stand out. EBR: Hoppy IPAs dominate the craft beer scene right now. Do you think that style will burn out? Warwick: I don’t think so, mainly because IPAs highlight the strongest American raw materials. We grow the best hops in the whole world. American hops have a beautiful citrusy-grapefruit bouquet of flavors, and they grow so well in the Pacific Northwest. If the IPA style wasn’t popular, it would hurt the American craft beer industry for sure. We’ll see trends within the IPA category—imperial IPAs, session IPAs—but my opinion is that you and I won’t see a time when IPAs aren’t popular. EBR: Your 10 Farmers Pale Ale is brewed with hops from a group of local growers. How do Virginia hops stack up? 16 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE WINTER 2015

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