Farm Credit helped Barry Wood achieve his goal of opening a brewery in addition to his working farm.
"My name is Barry Wood, I own Wood Ridge Farm Brewery in Nelson county Virginia. Wood Ridge Farm Brewery differs in the way that we actually grow everything on site. Well we have 300 acres here as you can see its a great view. All our barley is planted here, raised here, combined here, cleaned here, malted here, brewed here and served here. Right now we have about 15 beers on tap. Well the process is we raise a winter barley which we plant usually in October or November, depending on the weather circumstances. This year we were late due to the dry weather. So it sits there and goes dormant over the winter and comes back in the spring. As soon as the barley is ready we harvest it, it goes into our storage down here which then gets augured into our malt house which gets cleaned and goes into steep tanks, goes on the floor where it’s turned by hand for about a period of 4 to 5 days until fully modified. When we determine that then we push it off into a kiln and we start a 24 to 36 hour drying process all the way up to 180 degrees to cure the barley. Then it goes into the next step which is the brewing which is done here in this building and we have right now a 7 barrel system. We’re up to about 8 fermenters now and thats the last step til it goes into the tap.
When you are raising barley the weather has everything to do with it. Rain, temperature, everything so we’ve been really lucky with our weather patterns we’ve had the past 3 years and we’ve been very successful in our harvesting. We have some hops but not enough to do what we would need to do, so we buy most of our hops in, all our water comes from this site also. Since it started out as a test to see if we could actually malt barley here on the east coast and if the barleys that we had here would malt. Then I found out that Virginia Tech’s been doing extensive research on this for quite a while, so we looked to them for some of the varieties that we now raise. Once we figured it was viable to do it, we built a malting facility which we intended to be able to sell to lots of other breweries but then we decided to go ahead with our own brewery and now that take most all the malts.
There really is no typical day on the farm, being as we have the brewery here its either planting season, harvest season, all the other property to keep up with. As far as brewing, the brews go in about 1 to 2 times a week so were on a 7 barrel system we brew about once or twice a week and that allows us to keep beers coming out all the time and replenishing whatever might be out. It just depends on where we are in the year, where we are in what were doing, we are still expanding so we are still building other buildings and pizza ovens and bakery and tiki bars outside so there is no typical day. And were expanding all the time, we are getting new customers all the time, we seem to have a pretty good rating on everything, everybody that comes seems to have a good experience.
When I first started this I wasn’t sure if it was going to be me and you sitting here drinking beer, or me you and the world. It’ll hopefully get somewhere in between and that’s about where we are at now. We’re getting busier all the time with different things we have coming up. Since I am not finished it’s still a lot of work, but just seeing it develop from the ground up I guess has been the most rewarding. I like to build stuff, that’s where I get my happiness from is building.
Well we hope that they like the atmosphere that we create, it is a little different than some of the other breweries. I didn’t set out to build a brewery under any kind of rule or law or anything else, I just kinda got it in my mind and went with it. People seem to have been very happy with what we have done so far, they keep coming back to see where we’re going next. Hopefully, it should go along alright."