After cookie-cutter chain restaurants and malls replaced once-thriving ’70s department stores, Shenandoah Valley county seat Harrisonburg decided to revamp local businesses and revitalize apartments by the ’90s while James Madison University continued to thrive. In the light industrial section a few blocks away from midtown at the Ice House mall, PALE FIRE BREWING COMPANY continues to gain popularity with its sterling operation. Shiny glass-encased silver brew tanks hold a nice array of brews served at the U-shaped central bar.

Mild Golden Hour American Wheat Ale, a well-rounded Amarillo-hopped moderation counters dry lemon-pined bitterness with caramelized wheat sweetness, leaving lemon-pitted sourness and lemongrass herbage at the back end. Hybridized Foxy Roxy Rocktown Wheat (a collaboration with Brothers Brewery) brings IPA-styled dark fruited spicing to dewy carafa malts and barley-roasted red wheat.

Fruity American hops and dewy English malts formulate Deadly Rhythm Pale Ale, a dry medium body meshing raw-honeyed peat earthiness, fig-sugared spicing and dark floral accents.

Highly expressive farmhouse ale, Saving Grace Table Beer, brings herbal-citric saison yeast to pilsner-malted Saaz hops, allowing white-peppered lemon tartness and salty lemongrass brininess to pick up a bubbly mandarin orange spritz. In comparison, Salad Days American Saison loads barley-roasted rye malting onto Amarillo/Simcoe/Cascade hops, leaving yellow grapefruit, white peach and pineapple fruiting as well as lemon-rotted herbal snips in its lightly creamed caramel-malted wake.

Residual-sugared Munich malt sweetness fronts Red Molly Irish Red, a mildly hopped moderation with dewy earthen tones, chocolate-roasted wheat malts, nutty notions, sugared spices and red cherry licks.

Tropical Galaxy hops inform Major Tom IPA, delicately placing bright lemon-peeled grapefruit bittering atop crystal-sugared Maris Otter malting. Stylishly approachable Village Green Double IPA gains a sharp citrus spicing while staying easygoing. Floral-perfumed lemon zest, grapefruit, pineapple, peach and passionfruit illusions illuminate.

Silkily smooth Lucille Oatmeal Stout worked oats-flaked chocolate malting into milk-steamed coffee bean sedation, cocoa bean bittering and dark cherry wisps.




Hidden away in Virginia’s vast westerly Shenandoah Valley, the rustic town of Harrisonburg is home to CALLY’S RESTAURANT & BREWERY (formerly Calhoun’s), visited July ’09. In the small downtown district across the courthouse and in the same pristine yellow-bricked building as a fine wine store, Callie’s side entrance leads to a wood bar with glass-enclosed brew tanks.

Light-stained oak furnishings adorn the bar and surrounding dining space where exposed ducts highlight the high ceiling. A side patio and upstairs banquet add depth to the exquisite green awning-fronted brewpub. Upscale American cuisine filled a varied menu.

Mid-afternoon, I quaffed mild popcorn-like honey-grained floral-hopped grapefruit-currant-embittered German Pilsner, orange-yellow-fruited caramel-malted green-hopped Downtown Amber Ale, and earthen coffee-burnt hazelnut-walnut-influenced Nut Brown Ale.

Mossy resin-hopped grain-toasted grapefruit-soured pineapple-sweetened Smokin’ Scottish Ale and IPA-like Switzer Pale Ale, with its wood-dried floral-hopped apple-apricot-tangerine tang and grapefruit rind/ orange peel bittering, proved to be better choices.