Blue Mountain Brewery Beer SamplerOne of my favorite outdoor activities is drinking beer in the shade. When the sun is beating down and I’ve done nothing else productive with my day, I like to buckle down and go drinking. There are many places in Charlottesville to accomplish such a goal, but if you’re looking for nature-gazing instead of people-watching Blue Mountain Brewery is tough to beat.

Located in Afton a short 20-minute drive from Charlottesville, the brewery and restaurant occupy a farmhouse overlooking patchwork fields and trees, with mountains in the distance. We didn’t try the food, having popped in at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery on our way out, but the patio was packed with people greedily gobbling up pulled pork sandwiches and “brat pizza.”

The six beer sampler, artfully detailed by one of the owners as he gave us a tour of the magic beer-making machines towering in the back room, was just the right size to keep our palates excited without getting us too drunk to drive home. Our favorite was the “Butternut Bitter.” Of course, if you have one too many you can always laze in the shade with some cheese dip and “nitro” chili dogs until you sober up.