Seasonal sips

 

Absence makes limited-availability flavor even better!

Nature isn’t the only thing that’s seasonal. Visit West Virginia’s distilleries, wineries, and meaderies for drinks that rotate throughout the year.

Exotics

Life’s too short for same old, same old. Sometimes, you want something unexpected! Here’s where you can buy or make spirited concoctions that will blow your pals away:

Bloomery Sweetshine

After sipping an Italian limoncello, the owners of this distillery decided to make their own. The result: a whimsical plantation with its own lemon groves, fruit, and 1840s log cabin.

Bloomery Sweetshine’s artisan cordials brim with personality and flavor. Whimsical characters, sometimes in Victorian or Art Nouveau trappings, enliven each one. A gentlemanly explorer with a monocle decorates “Black Walnut” while an explorer poses on “Chocolate Raspberry.”

Bloomery Sweetshine also walks the walk. If the owners can’t grow something on the property, they order it from an organic farm. Their “SweetShines” give cocktails a real punch, too. These sweet liquors are made with fresh fruit and pure cane sugar.

Such dedication, imagination, and fun-loving style haven’t been in vain. To date, Bloomery Sweetshine has won more than 20 international awards, including the 2015 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirit Competition.

The seasonal drinks are especially creative. First and foremost is “Pumpkin Spice,” a creamy liqueur inspired by a family pie. It’s festive enough for autumn or winter. In fact, the distillery has recipes for special occasions and holidays.

Try making these seasonal cocktails:

  • “Summerwine.” A showy drink with layers of delicate pink “Cranberry Clementine” SweetShine, lemonade, and dark fruity red wine. Garnish with mint.
  • “Boozy Gingerbread Hot Chocolate.” Perfect for Christmas! Make cocoa, then add “Ginger Shine” SweetShine, “Pumpkin Spice” SweetShine, and spiced rum. Garnish with marshmallows, a cookie stick, or your choice of topping.

For more recipes and specific instructions, check out Bloomery Sweetshine’s website.

Mountain Dragon Mazery

Since ancient times, Mountain Dragon Mazery, WVpeople have enjoyed mead, a type of honey wine. Modern recipes now include yeast and — for an occasional twist — fruity flavors.

Mountain Dragon Mazery in Fairmont has 2 seasonal varieties of mead. The delicate “Tulip Poplar” is available only when bees can produce enough honey from the trees. Some years are more plentiful than others, but that’s how nature works. The same thing goes for “Basswood,” a crisp drink with — according to the mazery — “minty, woody” notes.

Mountain Dragon also has recipes for Christmas and winter. You can add warm spices — like nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves — to mead, for example. Or, stir some into snow to make a slushie!

Seasonals from the vine

Like the mountains that surround them, West Virginia red wineWest Virginia wine has surprising depth and variety. You can find anything from award-winning pinot noir to elderberry!

Batton Hollow Winery

This Lost Creek operation is a relative newcomer, but its wines have already won several awards. Most of Batton Hollow’s dry wines are ideal partners for hearty entrees. Its seasonals, though, are pleasantly sweet.

Look forward to:

  • “Primavera.” This elegant spring wine is available in February at the earliest.
  • “Summer Breeze.” Batton Hollow Winery’s most popular wine.
  • “Autumn Glory.” Jim Kelley and his wife, the owners, describe this as a “sweet red spiced wine.” Go ahead, warm it up on the stove!
  • “Winter White.” Available in November but rarely sticks around — it’s that good.

Forks of the Cheat Winery

When Jimmy Deal, the owner, was caught by his neighbor “stealing” grapes (even though they were growing over his side of the fence), he decided to grow his own!

Forks of the Cheat Winery has grown in leaps and bounds since its creation in 1990. With his wife and family, Deal raises French and American grapes on nearly 16 acres. They’ve won multiple awards, too.

“Spice Wine” is a Forks of the Cheat specialty. As you might imagine, this luxurious drink is ideal for winter. Cinnamon and cloves add heat to the sweetness, and you can even warm it. The Deals also have fruit wines. Though not specifically seasonal, they lend themselves perfectly to al fresco dining. There’s the delicate “Pear,” for example, which the Deals recommend with Brie and figs.

Visit Monday to Sunday and taste their full-bodied red, white, and fruit wines for yourself! There’s a patio with umbrellas and self-serve hors d’oeuvres. You can also go on a winery and distillery tour (Mon-Sat) and visit the Deal’s country gift shop.

Seasonal brews

Craft beer is a West Virginia specialty. You’ll find brews for every taste, from lagers to stout and everything in between!

Try these places for exclusive beers you won’t find anywhere else:

North End Tavern & Brewery

West Virginia’s oldest brewery has a stable of eyebrow-raising beers. Wet hop ale, North End Tavern, WV“Roedy’s Red” leads the pack with several prizes under its belt, including many People’s Choice Awards. Also on the lineup are wheat, porter, and ale varieties, all made with natural ingredients by head brewer Chris Hopkins.

North End Tavern’s seasonal specials are:

  • “Cerise Saison.” A light beer made with more than “300 pounds of local tart cherries.”
  • “Appalachian Wit.” Pawpaws, orange zest, and a hint of moonshine give this beer a true taste of the south.
  • “Pumpkinsheimer.” A spiced autumn brew made with real pumpkins.
  • “Christmas.” A dark, malty Belgian chocolate stout.

Bridge Brew Works

Fayetteville’s beloved brewery lacks all pretension. Just 3 family members own and manage the joint, and their enthusiasm for craft beer is Bridge Brew Works, WVinfectious. They make pale ales, lagers, and stouts, plus a few exotics.

Bridge Brew Works also has seasonal beers. “Oktoberfest” is a malty lager with an amber body and crisp white head. In winter, “Moxxee Coffee Stout” wakes everybody up with its bittersweet notes and energetic hit.

Other beers are limited, like the Belgian-inspired “3 River Tripel” and “Hellbender,” an IPA laced with spicy Northwest hops. Follow the brewery’s Facebook page for release details. You can also visit the taproom Tuesday-Saturday.

Wheeling Brewing Company

Since 2014, this Northern Wheeling Brewing Company, WVPanhandle microbrewery has created an impressive selection of pale ales, wheat ales, and seasonals.

Wheeling Brewing Company always has specials on rotation, too. Saengerfest Schwarzbier, Wheeling Wit #2 Orange Honey (a springtime beer), and Chapline Street Coffee Stout are just some of the many creations available. Give them a call and ask what’s in season!

West Virginia has many, many more distilleries and wineries, too. The next time you visit, consider taking home some fiery moonshine or floral wine. Your party guests will thank you for it!

Prefer beer? There’s a map just for you.

Find more mountain cheers >

 

This post was last updated on October 18, 2017