I try to actively keep my finger on the pulse of new breweries that are worthy of your attention and not just repetitive hype reinforcement of one off Cantillions or whatever St Louis juice is making the rounds. Imagine my surprise when I got messages about a lager powerhouse in…Virginia.
I usually engage my core and put on my blast suit when I see a VA hurt locker arrive. To see Vibrissa carve out a name with cans of pilsner, festbier and hefeweizen felt like a betrayal to the commonwealth. No fruit puree, cereal, or IP theft in sight.
This is Front Royal laundered in a new location, but unless you’re some hardcore Winchester, Culpeper, Fairfax cartographer, its just Virginia.
There is this civil engineering concept of “third places” spots in a city that aren’t home or work that you can exist. We are losing them rapidly as home congeals into work and every third space is now a place you pay to inhabit. Vibrissa feels like a genuine third space. The taplist is riddled with ESBs, low abv porters and baby IPAs: you can just exist.
This helles is as third place as it gets. I crushed several of these while last place in Overwatch 2 and it softened the experience. Eurostyle hopping without the stupid vegetal IPL reaching that many breweries strive for, jasmine not juniper. The soft accomplishment of lowering your screen time with actual living.
Park Pass feels out of doors in that you aren’t supposed to focus on it. If a foley artist draws attention, they are bad at their job. This makes the snap of a neck sound as crisp as an Anjou pear, with the light water cracker and bibb lettuce swallow, melty and riparian. It is less bready than some heftier hellies, and glides on cucumber handroll heelies. It won’t fill you up but it is something you order to pad out the experience.
The clean swallow gives you a space to collect yourself, the alcohol doesn’t create the experience, it is an a frame structuring it. This is a can that you give a friend and they don’t say a single word about, and sometimes that is the most effective beer of all.
Vibrissa offers that rare slice of Virginia beer that we can just silently enjoy without being compelled to scrutinize “oh what now?”