William Landry Wants To Bring A New Brewpub – And A Place To Remember For Years – To Roanoke

There was no instantaneous moment of inspiration, scribbled hastily down on the nearest available napkin.  No, there might not have been any moment of exclamatory revelation, followed by a night spent writing down page after page of plans or rough blueprints.  Instead, a subtle but lasting impression was more likely made, somewhere softly in his memory, for future use.  Among the warm environment of family and friends, Will Landry was helping celebrate his great aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary in the Roebuck Restaurant and Inn which the couple ran, located in the beautiful and picturesque English countryside.  An appreciation of English session ales, such as the Boddington’s he celebrated the evening with, threaded its way through the joyful evening, and as it often happens with good times among family and friends, things seemed to simply fit hand in hand.

It wasn’t Landry’s only fond recollection involving the comfort of a pub and good beer.  Another part of the family lived nearby, in a village just large enough for one pub, the Four Alls.  In places such as these, low alcohol “session” beers, a term which originated in England, were the norm.  These were not ales that run you over in an hour or less.  These are true pub ales – ones that allow for meeting up with friends or family, sitting down, and sharing stories over an entire evening, and then, as Landry remembers quite specifically, making your way home safely.  Experiences such as this were, and always are, as much about the time spent around those who know you best and the comfort such a presence and time brings, as the beer.

Landry’s appreciation for non mainstream and local beer would truly gain a foothold with a return to Boston, where he would attend college and live during his early twenties.  He experienced his first food and beer tasting during this time, and began visiting many of the brewpubs in the area.  His father owned a house on nearby Martha’s Vineyard, and there, at the well respected Offshore Ale Company, he would have one of those well remembered moments of beer inspiration.  Perhaps as a link back to his days in England, where cask conditioned ales are legendary, he became a fan in particular of an IPA which Offshore Ale produced.  “This may be my English roots coming through, but there’s nothing better than a cask IPA in my opinion. The hops just shine.”  But it was another Offshore brew that would help mark the next stop in Landry’s journey.

Not long after moving to Roanoke in 2005, Landry began home brewing to, as has always been the case with home brewers throughout the ages, enjoy beers that he could not readily find here in Roanoke at the time.  These would include a clone of an Offshore Ale Belgian pale ale, which he would submit in a home brewing competition, where it promptly won first place.  It would not be his last award.  Since then, he has earned a number of others, within the Star City Brewer’s Guild own competitions, and also at Blacksburg’s annual beer festival and homebrew competition, BrewDo.  The BrewDo winners, an American brown ale and a Belgian style blonde ale, would figure prominently into the fulfillment of a dream which may have begun many years ago.

That next move would be about as clear as the Pilsner he recently brewed on his home system.  Because throughout the cross Atlantic travels and the home brewing, the competitions and the time spent on Martha’s Vineyard, Landry still fondly speaks of those pubs in England.  Memories of his great aunt and uncle’s Inn, the Four Alls, and another pub near his uncle’s bed and breakfast called the Dungeon Ghyll (“Gill”) still glow warmly within his stories of them.  Reflecting on those pubs in England, Landry remarks “…bars are in the family blood I guess”.  So while nothing might have been scribbled down on a napkin late one evening years ago, his next project still might have began forming  on one of those fondly remembered nights, as he sipped his Boddingtons among friends and family.  Besides, he’s been taking plenty of notes more recently, on visits to brewpubs and breweries here in America, where the interest in craft beer is growing every day.  Those warm memories, along with his built in love of good beer would push the idea – of his very own brewpub – into creation.

Still in the final planning stages, there is no doubt “Barley and Chops”, keeps Landry’s thoughts busy these days.  But it was the love of good beer, and moreover, freshly produced beer and plenty of different styles of it, that was at the forefront of Landry’s thoughts on a recent evening. “First and foremost you can’t beat fresh beer and there is really no better way than to drink a fresh beer at a brewpub.”  While some of his first beers may have indeed included those two BrewDo winners, Landry promises plenty of variety at Barley and Chops.  Both his training with the American Brewer’s Guild – Landry is well on his way to finishing his Craft Brewer Apprenticeship – and his own wide ranging interest in different beer styles may factor into this, but he knows variety is what ultimately drives craft beer interest among fans.  It’s also what he considers his brewpub may add to the area – the ability for a regular visitor to the to ask that classic question “What’s new on tap?” and hear that indeed, something has changed since last visit.

Still, Landry is quick to point out he hopes the brewpub will not have a “typical” customer.  Barley and Chops would also be a comfortable spot for the uninitiated yet curious, would-be craft beer fan to come. “Sure I would hope to attract and keep the craft beer enthusiast as a customer, but we are a place of learning. I want someone who has never tried a craft beer to come in and feel welcomed and supported even if it means staff takes a little more time with them.”  As any fan of craft beer would probably tell you, having a variety of styles for someone new to the scene is key.  Not ready for the hoppy IPA?  Don’t care for the stout?  Landry will have something else that might make a better fit, and he’ll be happy to introduce it to you.

While the beer may be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a brewpub, but there is another element which ultimately to having a fond experience there – the food.  As it turns out, this is another one of Landry’s passions, which means the food won’t be an overlooked component to Barley and Chops.  “As anyone who will meet me will see, I don’t miss a meal often, and I love to cook at home.”  The focus on the food will not simply end there, however.  Beer and food pairings are as popular a conversation piece among those in the know as wine and food pairings, and the menus at Landry’s brewpub will offer suggestions between the two.  Beer dinners, multi-course events featuring preselected pairings of a beer to a food item, will also be hosted.

While the exact location of the brewpub is yet to be finalized – a couple of Roanoke area locations are in the running – the intent is clear.  It resonates within Landry’s words.  “I think the bottom line is we want everyone to leave feeling like they had an experience.  A wow moment, if you will, with the beer, or the food or the pairing of both.”  As he speaks, I think back to the memories of his great aunt and uncles’ Inn, the Dungeon Ghyll, or the Four Alls.  They are locations of warm recollections, for many reasons in Landry’s life, yet are universal as well.  We all remember places and times such as the ones Landry recalls – places where fine beer, good food, and a comfortable environment for you and those who know you well instantly create stories of times spent together.  After years of remembering these locations and recalling their own stories, Landry is now creating Barley and Chops, a place to showcase his own beer recipes and to pair them with great food.  But stopping at that description simply feels a bit too academic, and leaves perhaps the most important feature out.  Because as you listen to Landry share those stories, it’s clear that Barley and Chops won’t just be his own brewpub.  Without a doubt, it will become his very own setting for new, lifelong memories for him and his patrons, created over a good cold beer and among those who know you best.

Follow Barley & Chops on Facebook!

Curious about Barley & Chops, and want more info?  Email William at info@barleyandchops.com.

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~ by thebeerroad on February 13, 2012.

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