The gleaming, stainless-steel brew cylinders at Blackstone Brewing Company's alcohol alchemist lab froth with the precursors of an array of quality craft beers, dispensed freely from the taps of its brewpub. Like legal-drinking-age Charlie Buckets, pairs of guests stare in wide-eyed wonder at the brand-new brewing and bottling apparatuses during an exclusive tour of the brewery's grounds. Tour-goers learn about the beer and how it is made and may choose to drive to Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery to sip six samples of the final product, such as the Nut Brown Ale, St. Charles Porter, and Chaser Pale. A Blackstone-emblazoned pint glass and four bottles of beer follow each guest home at the end of the visit.
Let's Make Wine helps vino aficionados brew and bottle their dream blend of wine during a four-week course, available in the evening or on Saturdays by appointment. The foray into brewing begins by selecting one of the many wine kits to serve as a base, adding in ingredients and softly whispered compliments to customize the fermenting concoction to a palate's demands. Grape gastronomes pop in once a week to check on their burgeoning brew, spending a combined total of two to three hours overseeing their tailored creation with the help of head winemaker Cheryl Lisi. Once fully fermented, wines slink inside corked cages, with customized labels spelling out the vintage or the appropriate type of cereal to pour it in. The 30 bottles of resulting wine, each 750 milliliters, make for pleasant gifts or decorative cellar-stuffing.
Though some of Virginia Wine Tours’ staffers swear by Argentinean Malbecs and others favor New Zealand Rieslings, one thing’s certain: they’re all passionate about Northern Virginian wines. These aficionados conduct tours through a sweeping array of vineyards across the region, including the intimate Bluemont Vineyard in Loudon County, the sprawling Gray Ghost Vineyard in Rappahannock County, and the mountainside Naked Mountain Winery in Fauquier County. During these full- and half-day trips, they enlighten groups with local area viniculture facts and anecdotes, as well as encourage them to mix and mingle amongst their fellow wine enthusiasts. Virginia Wine Tours provides tour groups with transportation to and from wineries, sparing customers the inconvenience of having to worry about parking their cars or mastering the art of vehicle levitation.
At Hana Sushi House, chefs slice fresh salmon, scallops, and other seafood for sashimi and fashion the miniature filets into specialty sushi rolls. They also pan fry udon noodles and sizzle hibachi-style steak, lobster, and other proteins in the kitchen. Patrons can sip pours from the sake bar or relish the sweetness of red-bean ice cream or banana tempura. Complimentary WiFi keeps guests' devices connected throughout their visits.
Belcourt Taps celebrates the charms and flavors of the South with regular live music, and gourmet twists on comfort classics. The festivities begin before diners even step through the door. Outside, a sprawling patio surrounds the restaurant, lit up at night with warm sconce lighting and candlelight. There, guests can dig into gourmet stuffed burgers and tacos with pulled pork, shrimp, or chicken. Diners can also explore tapas and shareable plates of fried green tomatoes and nachos or dive solo into a barbecue pulled pork sandwich.
Inside, regular live music showcases the talents of singers and songwriters who carry on the Nashville sound. Golden yellow walls brighten the room, adding the feel of a southwestern cantina or a southwestern cantina owned by a pyromaniac, and soft overhead lighting creates the ideal atmosphere for a draft beer.