By Jeff Maisey
The scenic Tides Inn, known for its romantic location on the Chesapeake Bay for weddings and its world class marina, spa, golf course and restaurants, has decided to give ol’ man winter the boot and celebrate the full bloom of warmer weather with a new festival called Taste of Spring.
The inspiration for the festival came from an event promoted last November as Taste of the Bay, which essentially said goodbye to the peak operating season. Wineries, music and BBQ lured some 1,000-plus people.
“We really felt we should have something to open the season,” said London-born Gordon Slatford, the Tides Inn general manager. “It is time for everyone to come out of hibernation and what a perfect opportunity to get everybody together, have some music, a few beers and introduce a lot of local vendors from the area. It’s the social commencement of the season.”
The April 11 festival will showcase regional food, wines from Virginia’s Northern Neck and craft beers. Beer, as you might imagine, is part of Slatford’s DNA.
“I come from a history of beer, back in the UK,” said Slatford. “Although we do serve beer at a slightly different temperature over there. Americans would come over and look at us strangely that we would drink beer at such a temperature.”
At the Tides Inn, however, the beer will flow much more chilled. The craft breweries and cideries featured will include Bold Rock Cidery and Brew Pub, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Goose Island Beer Co., Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Legend Brewing Co, Starr Hill Brewery, and Williamsburg Alewerks.
Slatford moved to America 25 years ago. He’s observed a lot of changes in the beer market during that time, and consumer tastes.
“At the Tides Inn – up until three years ago – we were purely doing bottled beer,” he said. “It was driving me mental that we were not able to serve a proper cask conditioned beer. So we installed all of the equipment, and then beer sales just exploded. We’re now seeing so many people moving from a bottle of wine at dinner to some interesting beers.
“The other exciting thing coming in is cider. It is also exploding in popularity. I’m not necessarily talking about Angry Orchard, but artisanal ciders in wine-sized bottles. I think the cider and beer industry go hand-in-hand in many respects.”
Even in fine dining, Slatford notes that regional craft beer, wine and cider have impacted west coast and European wine sales.
“There was a word used a couple of years ago called Local-vore, which I didn’t personally like very much, but it’s a celebration of local food, wine, beer and everything that’s within a 50 to 75-mile radius. People are really nterested in coming to a place like the Tides Inn and having local food, local wines, local beers, and not necessarily looking for great French Chateaus. There’s even a movement away from California wines. We have some fabulous wines coming out of Charlottesville and the Northern Neck is producing some good wines. Probably one of my favorites is Good Luck Cellars, which is just up in Kilmarnock.”
Taste of Spring
11 AM to 5 PM
Tides Inn, Irvington