Stable Craft Brewing Welcomes New Executive Chef

Joseph Bissonnette, Stable Craft Brewing’s new executive chef, started working at the brewery in January 2018.

Stable Craft Brewing recently welcomed a new executive chef to the company’s brew crew. The newly appointed executive chef, Joseph Bissonnette, is already hard at work creating new specials and reworking the current menu.

Bissonnette’s humble introduction to cooking began in his Grandma Grzemkowski’s kitchen.

“I know it is real cliche for everyone to say that standing in their grandma’s kitchen and watching her cook inspired them, but, after working in the industry and looking back and asking myself why I am doing this, I would think that is an important person who inspired me and does daily,” he said.

Bissonnette’s grandma is Polish and the dishes they made together paid tribute to his family’s eastern European heritage. These dishes included: cabbage rolls, perogies, kapusta, different kinds of sausages and Polish angel wings, or chrusciki.

Bissonnette chose to pursue a career in the culinary arts after graduating high school and college.

He spent five years working as a sous chef at the Devils Grill at Wintergreen Resort. The Devils Grill serves contemporary American fare and sources local ingredients, just like Stable Craft Brewing.

In this role, Bissonnette worked under three different executive chefs, and he described the experience as his most influential job to date.

“I learned quite a few things as far as the levels of standards and consistency,” Bissonnette said.

Stable Craft Brewing represents a couple of firsts for his career; it is his first time working as an executive chef and his first time working at a brewery.

Bissonnette’s Polish cooking knowledge is excellent and compliments the beer very well as certain dishes from Poland share similarities in Austrian and German cuisine, specifically beer-paired foods, Craig Nargi, the owner of Stable Craft Brewing, said.

Polish cooking is rich in meat, especially beef, chicken and pork, and winter vegetables and pairs well with English Pale Ales.

An example of a special that Bissonnette has already created in his short time at Stable Craft includes porter-braised steak tips with pepper jam cornbread and garlic bacon green beans.

Adaptability, understanding the clientele and making the guest feel welcome by knowing what they want and preparing foods that complement the region are all important attributes of a chef, according to Nargi. The brewery’s goal behind welcoming a new executive chef is not to completely change what is already being offered, but to adapt to the ever-changing culinary desires of the clientele by utilizing the talents and skills of a professional chef.

Guests can expect a short-term menu change for Stable Craft Brewing’s tasting room courtesy of Bissonnette in the next week or two. A greater transformation of the menu is expected to be released in about three months.


Constant Government Support Drives Brewery Success

By Katherine Hensley

Stable Craft Brewing has enjoyed the support of federal, state and local government funds since its very beginning.

Craig and Nikki Nargi, Stable Craft Brewing’s owners, built a reputable wedding venue, Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, after purchasing their property in Hermitage, Va. in 2006. The property was originally a Tennessee Walking Horse facility, but, after extensive renovations, the Nargis turned it into a four-season venue capable of accommodating up to 200 guests for both ceremonies and receptions.

The barn and lookout tower at Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables. The venue is available year-round. Photo by Katherine Hensley.

Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, which officially opened its doors to wedding clientele in 2008, proved to be so successful that the couple decided to expand their offerings to a second business, Stable Craft Brewing, that includes a hop farm and brewery.

Craig Nargi began growing hops in 2011, and, to supplement his operation, applied for a United States Department of Agriculture Value-Added Producer Grant, or VAPG, in 2014, which he was awarded. The USDA VAPG program, “helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products,” according to the USDA.

The terms of the grant were that USDA would match spent funds up to $250,000, and the funds had to be spent, “for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product,” according to the USDA.

“You had to show you had the means first,” Craig Nargi said. “The matching grant was only for labor, ingredients and inputs to make beer.”

It could also be applied to energy consumption and the brewer’s time, but it was specifically for expenses related to the beer making process, he explained.

The federal grant did not match expenses related to the construction of new buildings or the salaries of the agricultural employees who helped to grow the hops, Craig Nargi said.

With the assistance of the federal funds, he was able to use the profits to grow the business. The next major step for the Nargis in growing their successful businesses was opening Stable Craft Brewing up to even more clientele via a top-of-the-line tasting room.

The tasting room officially opened in May 2016 and has been an economical benefit to the Augusta County community ever since. The agri-pub menu includes items, such as burgers, sandwiches and skillet plates, that are prepared with fresh, local ingredients.

In the spirit of contributing to the local economy and farmers, the Nargis established a business relationship with McNett Angus Beef of Grottoes, Va. McNett Angus Beef supplies the tasting room with the farm’s all natural beef for the burgers while Stable Craft Brewing supplies McNett Angus Beef with the spent grain from the brewery to feed the farm’s cattle.

The brewery, along with the tasting room, will continue to build relationships with local proprietors not only because of Stable Craft Brewing’s business model, but also because of a second grant the owners received.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe formally announced at the brewery that the Nargis had been awarded a $15,000 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development, or AFID, facility grant in September 2017. This a state grant that Augusta County matched with an additional $15,000 of local funds.

The terms of the AFID grant are that, “a minimum of 30% of the agricultural or forestry products to which the facility is adding value are produced within the Commonwealth of Virginia on an annual basis in normal production years,” according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The AFID grant and county funds are a portion of an even larger $500,000 brewery expansion that will create 13 new jobs. The expansion includes the purchasing of new equipment, such as a bottling line and additional fermentation vessels, as well as a new warehouse.

The new warehouse was constructed in fall of 2017.

The warehouse will have a barrel-aging room with the capacity to hold 250 53-gallon wooden kegs, an exclusive tasting room and room for storage.

The popularity of the company in the Augusta Community has motivated much of the support the brewery has received up to this point.

Craig and Nikki Nargi work around-the-clock to constantly improve both of their businesses and appreciate the support the federal, state and local governments have granted them over the years that help to make their visions successful.

 


Stable Craft Brewing Hires Consultant for Brewery Expansion

Stable Craft Brewing is now working with esteemed brewing consultant Peter Boettcher who will help with the brewery’s rapid expansion.

Boettcher has owned and operated his own brewing consultant agency for five years, but his experience in the brewing industry expands over 30 years. He got his start in the industry when he became a journeyman brewer and maltster through the chamber of commerce in his native Germany.

Peter Boettcher will help Stable Craft Brewing with the brewery’s rapid expansion. Photo Credit: Megan Harris/Eastfield College

From there, Boettcher attended the Technical University of Weihenstephan and Doemens World Brewing Academy where he earned a certification in brewing science and a degree in brewing science, respectively. Boettcher relocated to the United States and started his professional career at the Pennsylvania Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, Pa.

He was responsible for the creation of award-winning recipes at the Pennsylvania Brewing Company, as well as the production and quality control of bottom and top fermenting beers, supervision of staff and purchasing of raw materials. Boettcher significantly increased brew house efficiency and reduced the cost of operation throughout the company.

Boettcher has also worked for the Baltimore Brewing Company in Maryland, Abita Brewing Company in Louisiana, Pall Corporation in New York, Pacific Western Brewing Company in Canada and, most recently, the MillerCoors Brewing Company out of the its Fort Worth, Texas location.

Over the years, Boettcher has been responsible for a variety of tasks related to brewing, including consistent involvement in quality control, production and business planning, at the range of locations he has worked.

He has also been a Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner four times, a Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal Winner once and a Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal Winner twice. The medals were received in different categories, but most often in the German-style lager category.

Three of the four new 20-barrel fermentation vessels.

Boettcher currently lives and works in Fort Worth, Texas where he not only operates his brewing consultant agency, but also instructs students at Eastfield Community College in Dallas. He aided in the development of the brewery program at the college, which boasts a 98 percent job placement rate.

Within his consulting services, Boettcher provides technological and technical expertise for process and quality improvements throughout the production process. He works with large brewing companies, craft breweries, malting plants and cider companies.

Highlights of his consulting career include project management for Anheuser-Busch InBev in Russia where he took on the task of helping the company to modernize and expand its production facility and consulting for the European Union funded SARD III project in Turkmenistan. He has also had clients as far away as South America and Australia.

Boettcher is passionate about his work with both large and small breweries and enjoys passing on his expansive knowledge of the industry for the improvement of operations. Boettcher will assist Stable Craft Brewing with charting the brewery’s continued growth.


Pork U Collaboration Beer

Pork U’s collaboration beer is officially fermenting.

Stable Craft Brewing’s brewers, Christopher Fann and Issac Peglow, and beer bloggers, Jason Baker and Josh Hall, began brewing the Pork U collaboration beer, a chocolate vanilla milk stout, together on Saturday, Dec. 16. Pork U is a beer and bacon pairing class that will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13 as part of Porkuary, an all-day pork celebration.

Josh Hall from “Swill and Swine” has homebrewed in the past, but this was the first time brewing beer for Jason Baker from “Beer, Bacon and More.” It was Hall’s idea to brew a milk stout as he prefers that type of beer.

The collaboration beer was brewed on Stable Craft’s pilot system with the help of Fann and Peglow. The first step for Baker and Hall was to mill the barley to be used in the beer.

Hall poured the barley into the smaller mill used for the pilot system while Baker operated the drill. Using a drill is easier than hand-cranking the mill, Peglow said.

Josh Hall from “Swill and Swine” pours barley into the mill while Jason Baker from “Beer, Bacon and More” operates the drill. This is both of their first times collaborating on a beer with Stable Craft Brewing.

Jason Baker operates the drill on the small mill for the pilot brewing system.

Once the barley was milled, it was added to the mash tun. From there, the brewing process on the pilot brewing system is the same as the brewery’s larger brewing system designed for mass production.

As most familiar with brewing beer are aware, there is a lot of downtime while the brewers wait for one step to end before they can move onto the next step. Hall and Baker took this time to ask Fann and Peglow questions and learn more about brewing beer.

Baker took on the tasks of removing the spent grain from the mash tun and adding the sugar to the beer while it was in the boil kettle.

Baker cleans out the spent grain from the mash tun.

Baker adds the Nugget hops, which are pelletized, to the chocolate vanilla milk stout.

The collaboration beer will get its chocolate flavor from chocolate malt, an ingredient in the beer, Peglow explained. As for the vanilla flavor, the beer will soak in vanilla beans for a couple of days between fermentation and being transferred to the brite tank, Fann said. The Pork U collaboration beer will ferment for about a week and a half in total.

The chocolate vanilla milk stout will be one of the six beers that will be paired with a special type of bacon during Pork U.

Matt Milhit, Stable Craft Brewing’s taproom manager, will cure all of the bacon for Pork U himself. He plans to have the following types of bacon available for the class:

  1. A maple whiskey brined bacon smoked on hickory
  2. An agave syrup and tequila brined bacon smoked on mesquite
  3. A brown sugar and cinnamon dry-rubbed bacon smoked on applewood
  4. A black pepper and coffee dry-rubbed bacon smoked on hickory
  5. A chili dry-rubbed bacon smoked on cherry
  6. A dry-cured Italian bacon, or pancetta

The following Stable Craft beers will be paired with the above types of bacon:

  1. Porter
  2. Roostered Red
  3. Blue Ridge Sunryes Lager
  4. Throatlatch
  5. Britchin Brown
  6. Special Collaboration Beer – a chocolate vanilla milk stout

Sign yourself or a friend up today to experience this one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about pairing quality craft beer with delicious bacon.
Tickets are available for purchase online or in our taproom.
Buy Now
Space is limited.

Join Christopher Fann, Josh Hall and Jason Baker for Pork U, Stable Craft’s educational beer and bacon pairing class, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. January 13.


Pork “U” Back Room at the Taproom- Informational Beer & Bacon Pairing Class

Saturday, January 13th 2-4pm

Stable Craft Brewing will host Pork “U” an informational beer and bacon pairing class from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13 in the back room of the tap room. Pork “U” is a beer and bacon pairing class hosted by Stable Craft’s award-winning head brewer Christopher Fann and bloggers, Jason Baker from “Beer Bacon & More” and Josh Hall from “Swill & Swine”.


Fann, Baker, and Hall will each offer a particular expertise to this class as they walk participants through pairing six different Stable Craft beers with six different types of bacon. Matt Milhit, Stable Craft’s hospitality director and taproom manager came up with the idea to do a beer and bacon pairing class during the brewery’s Porkuary event as a way to give people the opportunity to not only learn more about Stable Craft beers, but to also teach participants about beer and food pairings.

Pictured: Chris Fann, Head Brewer at Stable Craft; Matt Milhit, Hospitality Director at Stable Craft; Josh Hall from Swill & Swine; Jason Baker of Beer, Bacon & More

Pictured: Chris Fann, Head Brewer at Stable Craft; Matt Milhit, Hospitality Director at Stable Craft; Josh Hall from Swill & Swine; Jason Baker of Beer, Bacon & More

Milhit is a veteran of the hospitality industry having worked for major resorts, such as the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., Boars Head Inn in Charlottesville, Va. and Airlie Center in Warrenton, Va. He is skilled with food and beverage pairings and enjoys sharing his expert knowledge with others.

Milhit will cure all of the bacon for Pork “U” himself. He plans to have the following types of bacon available for the class:

  1. A maple whiskey brined bacon smoked on hickory
  2. An agave syrup and tequila brined bacon smoked on mesquite
  3. A brown sugar and cinnamon dry-rubbed bacon smoked on applewood
  4. A black pepper and coffee dry-rubbed bacon smoked on hickory
  5. A chili dry-rubbed bacon smoked on cherry
  6. A dry-cured Italian bacon, or pancetta

The following Stable Craft beers will be paired with the above types of bacon:

  1. Porter
  2. Roostered Red
  3. Blue Ridge Sunryes Lager
  4. Throatlatch
  5. Britchin Brown
  6. Special Collaboration Beer – This is a beer that is specifically being brewed for this event.

Milhit encourages craft beer enthusiasts, cicerones, fans of wine pairings, foodies, pork lovers and anyone else interested in learning more about pairing craft beer with bacon to sign up.

Tickets are $25 per person with limited availability.
Purchase tickets online through Paypal and present receipt at the door or purchase tickets directly at Stable Craft Brewing during our normal business hours – Wed-Sun.

 



Craft Beer Lineup Series: Britchin’ Brown Ale

Craft Beer – Robust, dark, & enjoyable

Next up in our craft beer lineup series is the Britchin Brown Ale! With a name like “Britchin Brown” it is hard to overlook this beer. This brown ale has a roasted, nutty taste that truly showcases the malt flavor with a ABV of 5.5%. It has a strong-pull mouthfeel that is enough to lure in any craft beer lover. A well-made brown ale is typically characterized as a combination of toffee, nuts, and toast flavors. Chocolate notes are notorious for brown ales, while moderate hop bitterness brings a brassy middle. Far from boring, good brown ales will delight the taste buds-they are typically the perfect balance of not too heavy and not too light! If you fall in love with the Britchin Brown Ale, it is bottled and distributed from buds to suds!

Britichin Brown Ale

Brown ales pair well with hearty foods, such as smoked salmon, brisket, or smoked sausage. Cheeses such as aged gouda also go well with the Britchin Brown, perhaps try pairing it with our cheese plate containing: asiago, cheddar, pimento, sun-dried tomato, and goat cheese served with pickled veggies. Tomorrow our featured beer is the Night Latch American Stout. This beer is a close cousin to the Britchin’ Brown, as it is also a dark beer with a roasty, chocolate finish. Stay tuned as our craft beer week lineup continues on!


What Are We Smoking?

(Why a fresh array of meat, of course)
Stable Craft has been taking full of advantage of the smoker located right outside our taproom. Nothing warms the soul or whets the appetite more, than the delicious aroma of meat smoking. And there is that joyous feeling of smelling your dinner cook; while you kick back and enjoy that farm fresh brew – nothing can be more relaxing.
 
smoker
 
At Stable Craft Brewing, we keep the fresh smoked pulled pork on our menu daily for your enjoyment…but then, Friday rolls around, and we shake things up a bit. (Except beer, that is no bueno!)
 
The rotation is never the same and we are always looking for suggestions on what to smoke next so don’t miss the next fun and exciting smoker night! Currently in our rotation: (Let your taproom server know of if you have a favorite suggestion to add to our line-up…let’s have some fun with this).
 
 
prime-rib
Fresh Smoked Prime Rib
Just one question..is there really anything more stunning than a perfect cut of Prime Rib delivered to your table? It is possible that here at Stable Craft, we may have found a way to one up that wonderful feeling of joy when your Prime Rib is within sight. We, at Stable Craft, have teamed up with McNette Angus Beef Co., from right down the road, to bring you locally-raised farm fresh Angus beef, quite possibly the freshest cut of Prime Rib, you could ever dream of. When enjoying this Prime Rib, you will be introduced to a heavenly smoked flavor on the skin of this Prime Rib, followed by a delicious, melt in your mouth pink center. Barley fed, medium rare, locally-smoked decadence.
 
 
smokedwings
Smoked Chicken Wings
We’ve figured out a way to make your favorite all-time snack food even better. Stable Craft slow smokes large chicken wings to juicy perfection. Our wings are served up with that evening’s variety of scratch-made dry rubs, buffalo or BBQ sauces. We serve up these delectable wings with our own secret recipe chunky blue cheese dip and a side of crisp celery to complete the entire smoked wing experience.
 
 
brisket
Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
There is this little rumor that brisket can be a tough cut of meat. Here at Stable Craft, we challenge that notion. We’ve figured out that brisket is perfect meat to slap on the ole smoker. Homemade BBQ sauce, plus hours of low-heat smoking, make this a luscious, tender cut of meat – fit for a king (or queen, or even your little prince and princess).
 
 
screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-1-59-51-pm
Smoked BBQ Ribs
One of life’s greatest pleasures is a rack of ribs smoked to pure perfection. Stable Craft has gotten the science of smoked ribs down to the bone. Of which the meat will fall right off, of said bone. These ribs are smoked all day to give them the flavor your taste buds crave and desire. Once these ribs are pulled, we sauce them down and serve them up- just the way you like. Served with a sweet bbq sauce to complement the smokey flavor of these ribs!
 
 

The Farm Fresh Fixins’
To accompany whatever we may be smoking that day, our in-house chef, Gary, makes all the sides from scratch – to pair deliciously with the main course of the day. Gary is constantly trying new flavor combinations and this keeps things fresh and appealing. Scratch-made mac & cheese with gouda, spinach and tomato, or perfectly stuffed twice-baked potatoes are just some of Gary’s creations. Fresh mixed greens with scratch-made dressings round out this one-of-a-kind dining experience and add a bit of healthy green to that dinner plate.
 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay up-to-date on our offerings and events.


Stable Craft Brewing Co. marks formal grand opening

stable craft brewing coHermitage Hill Farm & Stables marked its 10th year in operation with the grand opening on Thursday of Stable Craft Brewing Co., a destination brewery that over the course of the next year will create 20 jobs in Augusta County.

Owner Craig Nargi began work four years ago on the plans to add the brewery, which includes a tasting room, catering business and farm store. Stable Craft Brewing Co. will operate on the premises with Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, which opened in 2006 and includes, in addition to the working horse farm, a thriving agritourism business that brings weddings and conference events on grounds 30 weekends a year.

“The addition of the new reception space and the brewery tasting room embraces agriculture, the equestrian world and the nuances of a resort,” said Nargi, who brings more than 25 years of hospitality experience in resorts and hotels, including leadership roles in high-profile resort kitchens including Keswick, Wintergreen and Kiawah Island Resort, to the project.

Those on hand for the grand opening event at Stable Craft Brewing Co. on a rainy springtime afternoon included Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, State Del. Steve Landes, the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee in the Virginia General Assembly, Mary Rae Carter, a special assistant in rural development in the office of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Augusta County Board of Supervisors Chair Carolyn Bragg.

Bragg played up the homegrown theme, talking up the importance of small business as the foundation of the local economy.

“At the end of the day, it is these companies, and the hard-working citizens of Augusta County, that enable us to have a strong local economy,” Bragg said. “On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I extend my sincere gratitude to Craig and Nikki for their continued business presence in our community. First you opened Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables, a premier event venue on a pristine rural landscape, and now we have Stable Craft, a true farm brewery honoring the agricultural background of Augusta County.”

Goodlatte also highlighted the growing small business element to the story of Stable Craft Brewing Co.

“As we recognize National Small Business Week, it is the kind of folks like Craig and Nikki that put the time, effort, money and risk into taking the small business they already have to a new level by creating this great brewery,” Goodlatte said.

“I believe this is just one more extension of the agritourism theme that you have here,” Goodlatte said. “It fits right into the rest of your model for economic growth, and I commend you for being willing to take that risk and grow our economy and create jobs right here in the community.”

Stable Craft Brewing Co. will produce craft beer literally from the ground up, with a hop yard that will begin with the planting of 760 hops, growing to more than 1,500 over the next year, with a head brewer on staff to oversee the production of 16 beers that will showcase Nargi’s long and successful track record exploring flavors.

Food will be also available through Hermitage Hill’s onsite catering operation.

“As opposed to being a hospitality business with a farm thrown in, we have always seen ourselves as a working farm first and foremost,” Nargi said. “The brewery and farm store will allow us to share the farm experience on an even larger scale while providing local beer aficionados with a unique addition to the craft brewery landscape here.”

Carter, who has worked in the rural development arena under the two most recent Virginia governors, first Republican Bob McDonnell, continuing in the administration of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, said Stable Craft Brewing is “the epitome of Virginia-grown, homegrown.”

“You are certainly the new Virginia economy. Growing businesses like this is very important,” Carter said.

Landes noted the growth of the craft beer industry in the past five years, with an estimated economic impact of more than $1 billion and more than 8,900 jobs created in the sector. The last count has more than 140 working craft breweries in operation in the Commonwealth, “and this facility will add Augusta County to the list of places that people come to visit,” Landes said.

“From my standpoint, this business follows what we’re trying to do in Virginia to bring businesses into the Commonwealth and grow the existing businesses that we have, but more importantly to bring people to the area to share in good beer and have a good time in the area as they’re doing it,” Landes said.

Story and video by Chris Graham