Sperryville to be a two-brewery town

In the final step of the special-exception permit sought by the Carney brothers to build and open a brewery and brewpub in Sperryville’s River District by next spring, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday night (Dec. 1) to approve the plan.

“Fingers crossed,” said Van Carney, 35, when asked after the hearing when he and his brothers Jennings and Lain hoped to open their Pen Druid Brewing Co. (named after the Woodville farm where they grew up  before moving to Fauquier County). “We hope to be open in April, May or June of next year.”

The supervisors’ vote came after a brief public hearing, and after the board’s own questions and discussion led to the addition of a few conditions to those recommended by the planners.

Neighbor Cliff Miller was the only member of the public to speak during the hearing, noting that he was “very excited and enthusiastic” about the brewery, which would be just across the Thornton River from his family farm, in the eastern end of the Copper Fox Antiques building at the end of River Lane. Miller said his only concern was about late-night noise, or outdoor music, particularly since he has a tenant house about 60 yards away.

Miller’s concerns were echoed by Piedmont supervisor Mike Biniek, who also asked about access by emergency vehicles traveling on the unpaved access road that leads from Water Street to the antique shop, the Copper Fox Distillery and several other businesses that share the large (and also unpaved) parking area.

County Administrator John McCarthy suggested that the more detailed parking plan required by the planning commission also include traffic flow and emergency access routes, and also asked Biniek if he’d be happy with adding a condition that no amplified outdoor music be allowed after 8 p.m. Biniek said “certainly”; Miller also said that would suit him. “That’s when I go to bed,” he said, grinning. “Eight o’clock.”

“Absolutely,” said Carney.

The supervisors added that condition and retained the conditions required by the planning commission, which included:

— sewer authority and building-department approval (including allowing the latter to decide how many customers can be seated on the outdoor deck/loading dock, which the planners had wanted to limit to 20, with commissioners Al Henry and Ron Frazier voting against approval because they thought the number should be lower);

— reducing to 100 the limit on people allowed at the Carneys’ proposed six special events a year, rather than the limit of 300 they requested;

The Carneys’ attorney Mike Brown, as he did at the planning commission hearing, made sure those present noted that a “misplaced decimal” in the application had misstated the the brewery’s expected output. “It says 5,000 barrels in the first year of operation, 10,000 in the second and 15,000 in the third,” Brown said. “It should be 500, 1,000 and 1,500.”

The Pen Druid brewery would be Sperryville’s second brewery — the Hopkins Ordinary B&B having just last month opened its Ale Works in the inn’s basement. Ale Works is a nanobrewery — its output, available to inn guests, to brewery “subscribers” and walk-ins, probably not exceeding 100 barrels a year.

After the vote, Biniek said to the Carneys, “Oh, I forgot to ask what kind of beer you’re going to make. I mean, ales, or lagers, or . . .”

“Both,” said Van Carney. “Ales, and lagers. And we are so excited to be coming back to Rappahannock to do this.”

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 539 Articles

Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.