By: Clay McDonald
For those of us spoiled by the plethora of wonderful breweries in the great urban hubs of the Commonwealth, we too often stay in our own bubble. We concentrate on what our hometown brews, or what the shop down the street sells. If you are one of those people, I beg you to get out and explore. As Virginians, we seem to be living in a brewing renaissance that is the envy of most. With over 200 licensed breweries in the Old Dominion, many stick to those large counties and cities, but we all need not forget to seek the gems that we can find in the spaces in between. A perfect example is Farmville’s own Third Street Brewing.
Located just two blocks from Longwood University, Third Street Brewing can be found in the historic High Bridge Loft building (312 West 3rd St.) The beautifully renovated, century old structure is perfectly situated on the High Bridge Tail. With just a few weeks until real spring weather, it is easy to see the appeal of hiking or biking the Trail, spending time with friends and family and ending the afternoon with Third Street Brewing as your destination. You will find the beer garden just a single step off the trail. For those Richmonders like me, this is a beer garden to rival the best (I am looking at you Ardent Craft Ales.) Bounded by Brewery, High Bridge Trail / Appomattox River, a Bocce Ball Court and a Cornhole Court, it is an easy sell to the weary traveler and the local alike.
On my recent visit, I had the pleasure of speaking to David Steeves, Third Street’s Brewer. David’s first introduction to the craft beer industry was working in Crozet’s Starr Hill Brewing, just outside of this hometown of Charlottesville. He became hooked and used his new found passion for brewing to earn his Craft Brewers Apprenticeship Diploma from The American Brewers Guild in Vermont. After graduating, David went on to become the Pilot Brewer at Flying Dog Brewing Company in Frederick, Maryland. Most recently, you could find David in Old Town Petersburg’s Trapezium Brewing. With a new brand and business, I cannot think of a better choice to head brewing operations. In such an intimate setting like Third Street, a brand ambassador is crucial. David is just that, being knowledgeable, personable, well spoken, and it does not hurt that he can brew one hell of a beer. Most of David’s workspace is located in the middle of the brewery’s taproom, open for all to see. Currently, Third Street is operating on a seven-barrel brew house with two seven-barrel fermenters and two fifteen barrel fermenters. The polished stainless steel brew house and fermenters are illuminated by the unique multi-colored track lighting above. Having the brewing equipment directly adjacent to the bar and dining area may have been necessary due to height restrictions throughout the rest of the brewery, but it adds an unmistakable level of charm and intimacy not found in many other settings. The inside of the tasting room seats about 80, with the beer garden roughly doubling that capacity.
Another aspect of Third Street’s unique setup, which I wish would catch on elsewhere, is the lounge area located closer to the front door. Plush comfortable couches await those who are looking to take a load off and wish to have something more than a barstool. This room also boasts two televisions, along with plenty of books and board games for your entertainment needs. Third Street keeps no less than eight brews on tap at any given time. Speaking from experience, their Foglight Baltic Porter is right up there with the best of them. Other offerings include: One way Wheat (Pale Wheat Ale), N150 IPA (American), High Bridge Helles (Lager), Top Down Lemongrass Blonde (Blonde Ale), Silk Road Ale (English Pale Ale), Route 66 Rye (Rye Beer), Horseshoe Amber Ale (American Red Ale), Roundabout Oatmeal Red (Red Ale),
and Snickerdoodle Stout. Up and coming additions include some experimentation with barrel aging that I am particularly excited about: Bourbon Barrel Aged Snickerdoodle Stout and an Imperial Chocolate Stout with both Maple Syrup Barrel and Bourbon Barrel aged variants.
It was apparent in our conversation that this is where David’s passion truly takes flight (pun intended). Keep an eye out for additional new small batches available every other Wednesday. As it stands, keg sales are available but only for private parties. David and team are currently working towards distribution to the immediate area. Here’s hoping that we will soon be able to have a Farmville brewed beer on tap anywhere in Farmville. A locally owned startup, Third Street Brewing opened just last October, but they have quickly become a gathering place for the community. The crew at Third Street hosts a Jam Night every Wednesday. Everyone is invited to attend, bring an instrument, and make music together. They hold regular Trivia Nights, and Karaoke Nights are in the plans as well. Keep up to date on both of those, via their Facebook Page. For those wanting to participate, the Brewery will also be the starting and stopping point for this year’s High Bridge Ride to Benefit the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day. Shortly after, on May 5th, you’ll be able to find the Third Street crew at The Heart of Virginia Festival in Farmville. Third Street Brewing is a Stage Sponsor for this year’s event.
For the locals, Third Street Brewing represents a gathering place open to all. The founders set out to give the town its own take on a neighborhood pub, and succeeded wonderfully. It is not unusual to find young professionals sitting next to a group of people with a bit more experience in life. Third Street Brewing is a place welcoming all. For us non-locals, Farmville may be best known for Longwood University and daylong shopping at Green Front Furniture, but I do not think it will take long before most add Third Street Brewing to their short list of priority stops on their weekend ventures to the “Heart of Virginia.
Editor & Co Founder ,Virginia Beer Blog