Three Notch’d Brewing Company
By Jennifer McDonald
“The British are coming! The British are coming!” Paul Revere, right? Well, yes, but did you know that there was another lesser known, but equally important hero who also warned of an impending British attack. His name was Jack Jouett. In June of 1781, Jouett learned that General Cornwallis ordered the capture of Governor Thomas Jefferson and his fellow legislators who had retreated to Monticello after an attack on Richmond. Jouett rode forty miles along a moonlit trail marked with three notches axed into the trees to warn Jefferson of the impending attack. The trail became known as Three Notch’d Road and it is from these origins that Three Notch’d Brewing Company takes its name.
As with many breweries, Three Notch’d Brewery started with three friends who were looking for a way to pay for their drinking habit. Derek Naughton, Scott Roth, and George Kastendike first started talking about the idea of a brewery in April 2012, when they were out socializing at a local restaurant. After crunching the numbers, they realized that they could really make this work and take their miniature basement brewery idea and expand it to a full-fledged brewery. In August 2013, their dream became a reality!
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Warwick, Head Brewmaster, and learn more about their journey, mission, and fine line-up of beers. Warwick started our conversation by saying, “I have always been attracted to the beer industry.” He tells me that since 1997, he has had various jobs related to beer from bouncing to restaurant management to retail. He even worked for a Coors wholesaler in Pittsburg. He says, “I loved the beer industry, but got burned out from the sales side.” In 2006, Warwick was accepted into the competitive craft brewing apprenticeship program at Rock Bottom Breweries. After two years, he was given his own brewery in Colorado and shortly after that relocated to Virginia where he was the Brewmaster at Rock Bottom Brewery in Arlington for 3 years. It was at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest held at Devil’s Backbone in 2012 that Warwick first met Naughton, Roth, and Kastendike. Warwick explained that the three are a really well-rounded team each focusing on their area of expertise whether it’s marketing, operations, or finance. Warwick completes the team as head Brewmaster.
Although, the brewery has only been in existence for a little over six months, Three Notch’d has quickly won the hearts of Charlottesville, restaurants, bars, and beer drinkers. Three Notch’d beers can be found at close to a hundred bars and restaurants throughout the Charlottesville region. Currently, Three Notch’d is self-distributing its beer as opposed to going through a distributor. Warwick says, “It’s a dream. We have total control of our brand and are able to grow our brand organically and develop a much more personal relationship with the bars and restaurants.” Three Notch’d can be found on draft in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Staunton, and Harrisonburg and cans, a recent venture, are available in Charlottesville right now.
Warwick explains that the rich history of Charlottesville is integral to Three Notch’d Brewing Company. He goes on to say, “The founders are all very passionate about Charlottesville and they wanted to create a beer for Charlottesville and capture its rich history.” That’s why many of their beers are named after important events or characters from the pages of Charlottesville’s history books.
Three Notch’d Brewery usually has nine or ten different beers on tap in the tasting room. According to Warwick, 40 Mile IPA and Hydraulion Red are by far the best sellers. The 40 Mile IPA is a West Coast style IPA and is named after the number of miles Jack Jouett traveled to warn Jefferson of the imminent attack by Cornwallis’s troops. Hydraulion Red is an Irish style red. Its name pays tribute to the University of Virginia’s fire company made up of students, professors, and servants, circa 1828, and their only fire engine named Hydraulion. Other beers in their current, year-round line-up include Oats McGoats Oatmeal Stout, Jack’s Java, The Trader Crystal-Hopped Saison, and No Veto English Brown Ale. The other taps rotate with seasonal and special experimental beers. One such beer is the Silly Axe Gluten Free Honey Ale, made with brown rice, sorghum and honey and finished with the same hop profile as the 40 Mile IPA. It’s based on Warwick’s Nikki’s Gluten Free Honey Pale Ale that won the “An insensitive name for the gluten sensitive.” Our Silly Axe brew is made with brown rice, sorghum and honey. It is finished with the same hop profile as our 40 mile IPA. “An insensitive name for the gluten sensitive.” Our Silly Axe brew is made with brown rice, sorghum and honey. It is finished with the same hop profile as our 40 mile IPA.Gold Medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Three Notch’d definitely has room to expand and with new 80 barrel fermenters and 80 barrel break tanks on the way, Warwick hopes to have the opportunity to create more seasonal and experimental beers. Indeed, Three Notch’d Brewing Company is poised to leave its mark on Virginia craft beer history.
Three Notch’d Brewing Company is located at 946 Grady Avenue in Charlottesville. Tours: held every Saturday 11am – 2pm. For more information, visit www.threenotchdbrewing.com.