As you should know by now, we love visiting vineyards and wineries outside of DC to try out some new wines and take in the views of Virginia and Maryland. We also have a fondness for distilleries and breweries, but (with a few exceptions) they tend to lack some of the landscape views and rarely offer as sprawling or relaxing a place to hang out as our favorite wineries. My brother recently suggested that we all get together at Vanish Farmwoods Brewery for some family time and to hang out with our niece. We were excited to check out a new place and see if it would offer that scenic, relaxing vibe that we love.
Vanish Farmwoods Brewery
Located about an hour outside of DC, Vanish Brewery is located in Lucketts, VA. The brewery itself is located on Black Hops Farm so this makes it possible to offer “beer that is plant to pint and seed to sip”.
Right as you drive into the farm property you can tell this is a large facility and the options for where you can relax and enjoy a few cold ones is going to be plentiful (more on that later).
Ok, just tell me about the beers already
During our visit to Vanish they had 16 beers on tap and 2 additional beer cocktails. The beer selection ranged from stouts to IPAs, ambers to saisons, and even included a few barrel-aged options.
My usual go-to move during a first visit to a brewery is to try all the beers they have before settling on what pints to get of my favorites. With 16 to choose from I would have my work cut out for me to try this. Luckily, they offer tasting flights of six (the VANISH) and twelve (the VANISHFLIGHT) to help you out.
I went with the flight of twelve to share with my brother, Ryan. Kacy opted for an additional flight of six so she could try out the sours and lighter ales that we don’t enjoy. Here are some of the highlights from my tasting:
- Ghost Fleet – 6.7% ABV – Their signature IPA. Had a hazy color to it and the flavor was very hoppy but had a nice fruit finish to it. One of the many hits and a solid beer I could see myself downing a lot of.
- Lucketts Calling – 6.3% ABV – A citra wheat IPA it was definitely different from the Ghost Fleet. The hops flavor was much less noticeable as you tasted more of the citrus and wheat instead of the bitterness.
- Fat Boys – 8.5% ABV – Vanish describes Fat Boys as a “solid American IPA” and I would definitely agree. It was surprisingly light for the high alcohol content (and technically being a double IPA) with fruity notes on the nose. As they stated, it’s just a solid IPA.
- American Amber – 5.2% ABV – A lighter to medium bodies amber beer. It had notes of malt and hint of caramel in there. Nice for when you want to take a brake from hops.
- Lucketts Store Light – 4.5% ABV – This was their light, pilsner styled beer. Very smooth and easy drinking at that would suggest. Not a ton of flavor but would make a great patio-pounder.
- VA Rye Pale Ale – 6.3% ABV – This pale ale uses all malts from Virginia and definitely delivers with some nice rye flavor. There is a good amount of hop flavor on the finish but it was still quite smooth.
- McAuliffe’s Irish Stout – 6.2% ABV – A dryer-styled Irish stout, this beer had a lot of barley and oat flavors to it. Very rich and nutty, overall a real solid stout.
- Imperial Ghost Fleet III – 8.9% ABV – This was my favorite beer from Vanish. A double IPA using Citra and Equinox hops, it packed a lot of big and juicy flavors that ended with a smooth finish. A perfect beer, in my humble (and IPA-biased) opinion.
Kacy found a few favorites as well, namely the Sour IPA with mango and papaya notes and the Juicy Tangerine with a tart citrusy finish. She appreciated that there were a range of beers as well as some that were lighter and lower in alcohol.
Wait, they also have BBQ there?
The barbecue at Vanish Brewery was recently ranked #8 in the Washington Post’s “10 best barbecue joints in the D.C. area”. Kacy and I shared the three meat combo, loaded with smoked chicken, chopped pork and smoked beef brisket. Along with our side of potato salad, we loaded up on both sweet and spicy styles of barbecue sauce that they offered.
The smoked chicken immediately stood out. The chickens are raised right on the farm and something is definitely going right there. The chicken was full of flavor and perfectly juicy. The chopped pork was actually quite good as well but had trouble holding up to the awesome chicken. Lastly, the beef brisket was quite solid offering a nice, sweet flavor and was fairly tender. Although to be fair, after experiencing the brisket at Franklin’s in Austin, everything else pales in comparison.
As I mentioned earlier, when you drive up to Vanish Brewery you immediately see how large the whole facility is. There are flowers lining the entrance and options for where you want to set up shop for the day. The taproom is huge with a long bar area and filled with plenty of tables. Around back is another large, covered sitting area with live music. Behind all of this is a backyard area with picnic tables, a corn hole set and some expansive views.
Despite being a busy weekend day there were plenty of seating options available. It’s tough to beat hanging out with friends, a cold brew and tasty barbecue while taking in landscape views. Vanish Brewery definitely delivered in giving us a laid-back, fun afternoon getaway from DC. We’re already planning our next visit, perhaps with the dog in tow next time.