The second place we visited on our trip to Richmond was just as delightful as the first. Ardent Craft Ales has a taproom and beer garden, located near the West End area of the city.
We sat down and ordered ourselves a flight. It was pretty busy, but not overly crowded. As we pulled out our cheeses, the group at the table next to us was curious enough to ask about it. Boy, did we tell them. We had a great conversation and hopefully they were interested enough to follow this blog.
First we tried the Sweet Potato and Sage Autumn Ale, one of Ardent’s seasonal offerings. It was delicious on it’s own, and you got the sage right away. We paired this with a bit of the Winey Goat cheese. The cheese muted the sage flavor a bit, but really brought out the sweetness of the potato. I would also love to pair this beer with a big bowl of roasted butternut squash soup. It truly was “fall in a glass”.
Ardent’s Saison is, by far, one of the best saisons brewed in Virginia I’ve had to date. It’s a bit spicy, and you clearly get a fruity aroma. Just an all around great farmhouse style saison. We paired this with the Collier’s Welsh Cheddar first. It smoothed out the crispness of the finish and brought out some floral notes. Next we paired it with Manchego. What surprised us the most was the lavender flavor this cheese brought to the forefront, but that disappeared almost as quickly as it came.
If you are a coffee lover, you will want to pay special attention to this! Our last beer at Ardent was the Dark Rye, an imperial stout. It’s not often you see imperial stouts made with rye, and I am generally not a fan of any rye beer, but this was an exception. The beer by itself had a chocolate finish, but then we paired it with our double crème Brie. Unbelievable. The Brie turned this stout into a coffee bomb! Full on, there’s a shot of espresso in this beer, coffee bomb!!! We loved this beer so much we had to get a full glass.
We had a great time at Ardent. The taproom atmosphere was casual, and not too loud considering the number of people in there. Our server was fantastic and very helpful. We plan to return in warmer weather to take advantage of the huge outdoor beer garden. Go visit Ardent. You won’t be disappointed.