I will admit, I haven’t had the pleasure of getting down to Pro Re Nata yet. They’ve been on my radar after learning of their participation in Kerri’s Cure, but Crozet is its own day trip so those visits tend to happen on UVa sporting weekends. Luckily, Hamilton was in town for UVa’s last home game of the year and his next visit brought gifts of beer, growlers, and swag! If you’ve not heard of PRN (Latin for “as needed”), that’s understandable as they only opened back in November 2015. That said, you may want to pay attention as Head Brewer Brad Hulewicz apprenticed at Mad Fox under Bill Madden, among other stops ahead of plying his newfound trade under his own roof. This beer was my first experience with all things PRN, and judging by how good it was, it certainly won’t be my last.
Pavlov’s Bell-gian Blonde Ale, Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery (Crozet, VA)
Belgian Blonde Ale, ABV 6%, IBU 12
Presentation: Steel growler pour into pint glass.
Appearance: Musky straw trending to pale goldenrod. On these pours at least, neither head nor lattice.
Taste: The interesting thing about this beer is that whereas some Belgian Blondes focus on a mildly tart profile, this screams farm work. The color matches the nose, which resembles fresh haystacks with a bare hint of resin. Those harvest flavors pair well with a strong herbal backbone resembling either the cloves of a Hefeweizen or the earthy flavors one can coax out of thyme. The finish is delightfully crisp almost similar to how fresh cut grass lingers in the air after a dewy morning.
Mouth Feel: A fair amount of acidity owing to carbonation which held up surprisingly well after transport and a little bit of storage. The IBUs are non-existent though the flavors sit mostly on the back of the tongue and roof of the mouth. The effect as stated above is more herbal in nature than bitter. It’s a beer meant for healthy gulps more than soft sips.
Overall: Hamilton’s goal in bringing the Northern contingent of VBR a few growlers to sample was to turn our attention to another Charlottesville-area brewery for future visits. As he puts it, “I’m telling y’all, they do pretty much everything right.” Well, they’re one-for-one so far with me. This beer is great for a cool, sunny day after you’ve finished all your chores. Light, airy, and enough flavor to grab your attention. If you happen to be transiting down I-64 near Crozet this Spring, stop off for a quick refreshment…as needed.