We Went There: C’Ville-ian Brewing Company, Charlottesville, VA – @CvilleBrewCo

Posted by  VBR Staff   in  Breweries     4 years ago     1440 Views     1 Comment  

It can be hard to issue a review of a brewery for several different reasons.  If the brewer doesn’t rely on a steady stream of staples, or has recently changed, then you don’t really have a baseline point in time to compare your experience to that of anyone reading the review.  A great example of that is a place like Mad Fox in Falls Church, which although I get there quite frequently almost always has at least half of the menu changed (both for food and drink).  There are 3-4 staples, to be sure, but your experience there in the Fall will be radically different than Spring or Summer.  Or what about bluejacket in DC, which almost entirely relies on a rotating list of experimental, small-batch beers?

Or, what if you’re among the first to ever step foot in the tasting room?  And all of the above happen to be true, too?

Cvilleian sign

That was the case when Hamilton and I dropped by C’Ville-ian (pronounced “civilian”) on Main St. in Charlottesville.  As intrepid readers may remember, he and I were on triple duty that day with reviews of Wild Wing Café and the Tailgate Throwdown…sandwiched by a stop at C’Ville-ian just across the street from the Amtrak station.  Somewhere way back when I’d heard about this spot and pestered Hamilton into stopping here rather than the new World of Beer a few blocks away.  We were pleasantly surprised by what we found, so rather than a review I thought it was a better idea to give you more of an overview about the place.

Cvilleian bar

We Went There:  C’Ville-ian Brewing Company, Charlottesville, VA – @CvilleBrewCo
Owner:  Steve Gibbs
First Opened:  April 2014

Atmosphere:  The space was fairly cozy even if you couldn’t get past the intended audience:  UVa students.  Apart from a mostly standing room only bar area with a few high tables, a couch area had a few board games to keep the entertainment -ahem- flowing.  Of particular note was Cards Against Humanity.  The owner also took some pride in explaining the décor, which featured 50 overhead lights against a blue ceiling, white walls,and red bar.  Without any TVs or good prospects to laze about and people watch, though, it’s hard to see sticking around for more than a drink or two just yet.

Wait, so why the American flag decor?  It turns out that Steve, the owner, was formerly in the Army, with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  His connections to Charlottesville came from spending a long portion of his first career working for DoD just up the road.  When asked about his motivations for founding C’Ville-ian, he mentioned that as he transitioned from military to civilian life (hence the name), he wanted to have a bit of fun.

Brewer’s Direction:  After initially doing the brewing out of his garage starting back in 2013, after the tasting room opened this year Steve brought in a new brewmeister hailing from Oregon.  The influence was clear, as the standout beers were ones the head brewer had recently released.  A particularly cool concept is to rely on “nano” batches so they can incorporate customer feedback, but I could also see this having limitations if it’s their sole brewing model.  In fact, Steve came over several times to get our impressions before we revealed ourselves as a bit more than the average beer drinker…

Cvilleian flight

As with any first visit, Hamilton and I each ordered a flight.  Please remember that with any new brewery these are all early versions.  We were generally impressed, so remember the “early score” is only indicative of our visit on October 4, 2014, and odds are we probably won’t feel exactly the same way about these beers (and other factors may have changed as well) when we visit again.

Beer #1:  Albemarle Amber Ale
Tasting Notes:  The light malt notes were overshadowed by a bit of earthiness that was definitively West Coast.  However, whereas I don’t like that in an IPA, here it brought out some balanced flavors.
Early Score:  7.5
Beer #2:  Rugby Red Ale

Tasting Notes:  Almost like a ruby grapefruit on the nose.  A bit less malt than one would expect in a red ale.
Early Score:  6.0

Beer #3:  Pavilion Robust Porter

Tasting Notes:  Very light, almost refreshing.  Most of the flavor profile was coffee, which I don’t normally like, but this one has promise if they can balance that out with some other Porter flavors (maybe a bit of spice?)  Hamilton enjoyed this one a bit more than I did.
Early Score:  6.5

Beer #4:  Blenheim Belgian Tripel

Tasting Notes:  Beautiful color, almost as if it were aged somewhere.  However, all the citrus/sour elements on the nose came through with way too much tartness on the body and finish.
Early Score:  5.0

Overall Impression:  CBC has a lot going for it.  The location is incredible (nestled next to the old Starr Hill hall), the ales fairly mature in flavor already, and enthusiastic ownership.  I absolutely love the feedback concept, but do hope when they get a recipe right they expand to microbrewing rather than nanobrewing.  That kind of expansion would allow for a little more consistency, and eventually, distribution.

Cvilleian menuThe draught list on October 4, 2014 – how has it changed since?
Basically, that’s why it’s almost impossible to judge a brewery/beers when the recipes are still young and not locked in stone.  Regardless of the tinkering, we plan on stopping by again, and suggest you check them out as well.