Jack and Joal Russell, the owners of Charleville, decided to add beer to the fine list of wines that they sell, parlaying Jack’s love of beer with the recognition that there might be more that one reluctant spouse coming through their doors. Over time their beer has become almost as popular as their wine among local beer lovers and is finding its way onto store shelves in nearby towns and cities.
The tasting room, which was to soon be replaced with a larger facility when I visited, was small but inviting. Jack and Joal are typically there to warmly greet their guests and love to talk about their wine and beer. The tasting room opens onto an open porch where visitors are invited to sit and enjoy the impressive view of the vineyards, rolling hills, woods and fields.
Charleville has a pretty standard selection of beers available with one or two seasonal brews available. You can check out their wines on their website. They also serve some food – sausage and cheese trays and the like.
Half-Wit – This unusual Belgian wheat beer was certainly the most surprising of the bunch. I was also told that it’s one of the most popular. The subtle nose carried hints of banana and generous doses of orange. The flavor of this cloudy, yellow beer is also subtle but packed with the taste of oranges. This comes from, I was told by Jack, the halved oranges that they dump directly in the brew-pot!
IPA – This is a pretty standard American India Pale Ale. The nose is citrusy and the flavor low on malt and heavy on hops; though not overwhelmingly so.
Pumpkin – This was the seasonal available when I visited in the autumn of 2007. The beer is packed with spice; notes of cinnamon, cloves, and some hops were apparent in the nose. The beer tastes heavily of pumpkin pie spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice with cinnamon dominating. The brew finishes with more typical beery sweetness and hops mingling and lingering on the tongue.
Other beers that become available at various times through the year include an oatmeal stout (which I tried later and thoroughly enjoyed), a barleywine, and a popular Christmas brew – Rodulph the Red-nosed Reinbeer, an amber ale spiced with peppermint.
Jack told me that they are planning to expand their selection in the future. More Belgian-style brews appear to be on Charleville’s horizon.
All in all I recommend taking the trip to Charleville. A solid selection of enjoyable beers, a beautiful setting and very friendly staff makes this an excellent place to while away an afternoon.