By Charlotta Jarborg
Turning 21 opens up a lot of doors to fun activities, and one of them is only a short car ride away. Fredericksburg’s own microbrewery Blue and Gray is a must for any respectable, beer-chugging college student.
Not only does the beer taste great, the name even happens to contain our school colors. If you ever feel lacking in school spirit, drink up.
I had the pleasure of exploring the local brewery not too long ago with a resident expert, senior Christopher Bitzer. A campus connoisseur of beers, Bitzer has been taking regular trips to the brewery since last semester.
During fall semester, it was tradition for Bitzer and his power-hour pals to take weekly trips to the Blue and Gray every Wednesday, one of the days when customers can stock up on amber goodness straight from the tap.
The brewery itself really does live up to the name “micro,” a place not much bigger than a two-car garage. With the exception of the high ceilings, the brewery is a small yet inviting Fredericksburg gem.
If you’re not a huge beer fan, there are plenty of other ways to represent the local flavor, as the brewery offers various “merch” such as t-shirts, beer glasses and other Blue and Gray gear.
After getting used to the somewhat sour smell imagine the sweet, pungent smell a room takes on after several sloppily played games of beer pong, then multiply by 100, I learned about the different kinds of beer the Blue and Gray has to offer.
No need to wonder too long over which one to purchase, because one of the best parts about the brewery is the free samples.
I chose to try the Falmouth American Pale Ale, which had a strong but smooth taste. According to the Blue and Gray web site , 18th century Fredericksburg brewers were inspired by the India Pale Ale, brewed in Britain with a generous amount of hops, so that the beer would survive the long trip to India.
However, American colonists tempered with the amount of American hops and used more American grain to create a new kind of beer—the American Pale Ale. To add local flavor, the Blue and Gray also adds hops grown in and around Fredericksburg.
So why would one go all the way to a brewery just to buy beer?
Well, not only is it a fun experience that’s well worth checking out, the brewery’s products are difficult to find in stores. One of the few places that carries them is Total Wine, located in Central Park.
The two flavors my friends and I have been testing are the Fred Red Ale and the Classic Lager. The Blue and Gray also does seasonal beers, which for the summer might be nice.
However, one of my beer tasting buddies on the panel said that their summer Hefeweizen “sucks a**.” So perhaps one should stick to the regulars, though, it is worth a try for yourself.
The Blue and Gray website describes the Fred Red Ale as “the best beer you’ve ever tried.” A pretty bold statement— did they live up to it? Sadly, no. To me, it has that odd metallic edge like loose change. It was actually so bad that we had to wash it down with Natty Lite to get rid of the bizarre aftertaste.
The Classic Lager tastes much better; in fact, it might be up there as one of my top beers. The Blue and Gray website refers to it as crisp and smooth, and I certainly could not agree more.
Whether you have tired of the standard Bud/Miller/Busch beer scene or are just looking for a way to relieve stress during finals, go ahead and take a trip to the Blue and Gray brewery. Experience something very Fredericksburg that isn’t an antique store.