We love going to the farmer’s market. Waking up early on a Saturday morning to purchase fresh produce; pick up some grass-fed, organic, hand-cut meats; indulge in a danish between some free fruit samples, and drink some beer. Wait, did he just say drink some beer? That’s right people, when you make your way over to the Reston Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning make sure to stop in to the Lake Anne Brew House for wake-me-up beer.
Located right on the banks of Lake Anne in Reston, VA, Lake Anne Brew House is a nano-brewery owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Husband and wife team, Jason and Melissa Romano. Now I know there are some places that are family-owned but you’d never know it when you walk in the front door because no one ever sees the owners. That isn’t the case with Lake Anne Brew House. On the morning we paid our visit to the brewhouse Jason and Melissa were right there behind the counter ready to serve some beer.
It isn’t a huge space so don’t try and picture a tasting room you might find in a big warehouse setting or compare it to the tasting rooms you may see on a wine estate in the country. What the space lacks in size it more than makes up for in appearance and comfort. There may only be four chairs at the bar but just step up a few stairs to find a seat or, even better, step outside on the patio to take in the views of the lake from the more than ample seats.
“But Wes,” you say, “I have young kids and would love to try some new and delicious beers but I can’t bring them to a brewery.” To that I say nonsense! Any brewery worth visiting is family friendly knowing that craft beer is about community, it is about family, and it is about a good product. During our excursion our daughter was welcomed with open arms and she wasn’t the only one. There were at least three other kids playing and exploring the patio while we indulged in some delicious beverages.
Speaking of delicious beverages, Lake Anne Brew House has quite a few. While there you can grab a pint, pick up a growler fill, or enjoy a flight of five to get a little taste of what Lake Anne has to offer. I lined up five beers during my summertime visit, headed out to the patio, and sat back to enjoy the fresh morning air and the fresh morning beers.
Silver Line Saison – Lake Anne Brew House likes to name their beers after the area. For those not from Washington, DC, the Silver Line is the Metro (subway) line that runs from Washington, DC out to Reston, Virginia (and will one day continue on to Dulles Airport). Saisons are in the pale ale family brewed with fruit and spices. Historically, these beers were brewed by farmers in the winter months to have available in the summer as refreshing beverage after a long day’s work. In days of yore the hovered around 3.5% ABV but now can range up to 7.00%.
Being from the pale ale family this saison was too dry and too bitter for my tastes. Not to say this isn’t a good beer but it just didn’t match what I wanted to drink. Of course, I was drinking in the morning so it wasn’t all bad. I mean, how bad is life when you are enjoying a craft beer looking over a lake? This beer checks in at 6.3% ABV with only 21 IBUs but to me it tasted like it had more bitterness than that. I gave it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Live-Work-Play IPA – Giving an IPA a score any higher than a 2 out of 5 stars is something you will rarely see from me. It seems to me that far too often the term craft beer can almost be used interchangeably with IPA. I have never been to a craft brewery that didn’t offer at least one IPA with many, if not most, offering two or three IPAs. Perhaps it is just easier to change the flavor profile in an IPA from one to another as compared to say a stout or a lager. Whatever it is, I often get frustrated with the number of IPAs that are in craft breweries without the place trying a porter or a brown ale.
Sorry, I got a bit sidetracked with my thoughts on IPAs in craft breweries. You are probably thinking that I didn’t like this particular beer simply based upon that little rant. That isn’t exactly true. The beer was beautiful golden color that was quite tasty, for an IPA. The Live-Work-Play IPA page on Untappd shows 60 IBUs which is right about where you would find most American IPAs. For me, anything over 40 IBUs is going to be too bitter but that is a personal preference. I gave this 6.5% ABV beer 2.5 out of 5 stars but lovers of IPAs would give this a much higher rating (Rizzo gave it a 4 out of 5 stars).
Lord Fairfax English Pale Ale – If we were all to be magically transported to a world in which the only available beers were pale ales I would be (1) amazed by the magic that somehow made all types of beer except pale ales disappear and try to figure out how we can apply this magic so we live in a world that doesn’t have political advertisements and (2) saved only by the existence of English pale ales.
Far less bitter than American style, especially West Coast American style (I’m looking at you Lagunitas), pale ales, an English pale ale has a better balance of malt and hops. Keeping the IBUs down to a dull roar helps a lot in making these types of beers more palatable to my sensitive taste buds. The English Style brings out more malt flavors which make this beer very smooth and easy to drink. I was a big fan of this beer (as big as I can be for a pale ale) giving it 3.75 out of 5 stars. To prove I’m right about this being a good beer, this 5.5% ABV and 33 IBU pale ale was awarded a silver medal at the 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers Guild awards.
Reston Red Ale – What is a red ale? Don’t bother looking it up because I went ahead and did it for you. When you see the term red ale your first thought goes to Killian’s Irish Red with a beer that has a red tinge. In reality, a red ale is a darker version of an amber ale. Since the beer style tends to focus on the malt you can expect the beer to be a bit sweeter than other types of ales.
In this case I think I got a glimpse of something different and unusual in a red ale. I’m pretty sure I got to taste some Brett, that little yeast strain that gives Belgian beers their distinct flavor. I thought this was a very interesting flavor to have in a red ale. I wasn’t alone because this beer won bronze medal at 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Awards. At 5.5% and 30 IBUs, this beer is very drinkable and could be consumed all day long. 3 out of 5 stars.
Simon’s Stout – It isn’t uncommon when tasting beers for the flight to be ordered light too dark. I personally think there are two reasons for this lineup. First, lighter colored beers are traditionally served at a colder temperature. Grabbing an ice cold lager or ale on a hot afternoon is perfectly refreshing. As a rule of thumb, the darker the beer the warmer the serving temperature. Porters and stouts are best served warmer than a lager or ale. I’m not saying you should put your Guinness in the microwave but if it climbs to 55-65 degrees it would taste even better. So in a flight you put your darker beers at the end to let them warm up a bit before tasting.
The second reason that dark beers are put at the end of the flight is because you always have to save the best for last. After ruining your palate with IPAs you need a nice stout to make it all worthwhile. That is exactly what happened when I finally got to Simon’s Stout.
Named for Bob Simon, the founder of the community of Reston, Virginia, this stout is smooth and smoky. There are very distinct coffee flavors in this beer which was perfect for a morning beer (let us not forget that I was drinking this beer around 10:00am on Saturday morning). Even though this 4.6% beer had 38 IBUs (higher than the English Pale Ale) it didn’t taste bitter thanks to the loving malt giving it plenty of balance. Even though two ales from Lake Anne Brew House won medals at the 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers guild awards, this beer was by far the best on the menu. 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Lake Anne Brew House is a great local brewery that is warm, welcoming, family friendly, and produces great beer. Whenever you are in Reston looking for a place to hang out and relax I highly suggest making this your destination. May I suggest Saturday morning. Go to the farmer’s market and get yourself some tacos or barbecue from a local vendor then bring them over for beer on the patio. You won’t be disappointed.