Drinking is an important part of Georgian culture, and all events and celebrations will be accompanied by wine, with Georgians only toasting with beer if they want to wish someone bad luck.
However, beer drinking is becoming more popular with a number of micro-breweries being established and it was time to taste, not toast, at the Lost Ridge Inn’s craft brewery.
The place, owned by American John Wurdeman, is located in the village of Qedeli, on a crest overlooking the Alazani Valley and close to the City of Love, Sighnaghi, and Bodbe Nunnery which we’d just visited.
However, by the time we arrived at Lost Ridge, it was raining, but being resolute we sat on the terrace, fortunately covered by a corrugated plastic roof and listened to the rain beating down. At one point there was no view at all, but eventually the clouds passed by, and the mountains emerged in the distance.
Before the tasting began, we lined our stomachs with lunch. As much of their produce is home grown or foraged, dishes change daily, the simple handwritten menu listed the available dishes. Four of us chose to share barbecued pork and fried potatoes, along with two salads: cucumber and tomato with refined sunflower oil and seeds, and fried cauliflower with marigold (although I was disappointed not to either see or taste the marigold). This was accompanied by adjika, a spicy tomato-based paste, and tkemali, a sweet and sour plum sauce which went beautifully with the pork. To ensure our palates were cleansed, we drank water infused with mint, lemon and tarragon.
The beer tasting followed: four types brewed in their small, three-barrel microbrewery. The glasses were held in a special wooden holder and an enthusiastic young man from California explained the differences between the Wit Beer, Blonde, Belgian Pale Ale, and finally a chocolate tasting IPA. After the tasting, I decided that Georgians have their priorities right – wine first, beer second.
If you want to stay a little longer to hike or ride, Lost Ridge has a boutique six-room hotel and a horse ranch.