Jefferson Street Brewery
1309 Jefferson St
Visited on November 22, 2013
Downtown Lynchburg is a lot cuter than I thought it’d be. Full of historic buildings – some renovated and some falling apart – the cascading hillside and meandering river provides the perfect scene for some nice brewpubs. Unfortunately, small-sized, right-wing cities aren’t exactly hotbeds for open-mindedness when it comes to intoxicating substances.
At least not publically.
Nonetheless, one small brewpub has managed to pop up. The Jefferson Street Brewery shares a renovated former shoe factory with a couple of restaurants and an impressive-looking hotel. Marked by the giant shoe attached to the exterior, the 1st floor features a joint called the Waterstone that serves its beers alongside a menu mostly composed of pizzas.
The Waterstone is gorgeous. The walls are either brick, stone, or what looks like reclaimed wood. The bar is beautiful, the lighting is on point, and the general ambiance is warm and laid back while still managing to be classy. It’s damn near perfect. The only issue is the terrible logo and font choices adorning every available surface that screams corporation. It reminds me of a Bone Fish Grill.
On the menu, there’s a few entrees, a few sandwiches, and a few salads. But the main focus is obviously their pizza. And with good reason. The corner of the restaurant sports an encouragingly authentic-looking pizza oven. I’m not sure if it is wood-, gas-, or coal-fired, but whatever heats it up, it makes a great pie.
My wife and I ordered a Thai-inspired creation with chicken, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, Serrano chilies, mozzarella, and sesame sauce. The title claims it is spicy, even though it isn’t. But that’s okay because its tasty anyway. The second pizza we tried was the Sicilian, which featured red sauce, sausage, cappicola, salami, oregano, pecorino-romano, and fontina. Also a winner. The best part of their pizza is the thin, crispy crust. If I had any complaints, its that the toppings were a bit sparse, but perhaps it’d be a shame to cover up the delicious carbs with too much going on up top.
So far, so good. This place has the makings of an outstanding establishment. Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels fall off. The crux of any brewpub has to be its actual beer. And Jefferson Street’s libations fall well short of the rest of the establishment.
There’s not much on tap – just five beers on tap and no seasonals to speak of. And of those six, the amber inexplicably is the highest ABV at 6%. All of the beers were dry and drab with little or no complexity to their grain bill or hop profile. I didn’t even bother ordering a pint after sharing a sampler with the Mrs., which is a rarity for me.
Too bad. The place has such potential.