AFTON — Most Nelson County residents are familiar with WildManDan Beercentric Bed and Breakfast in Afton. But the cozy getaway recently officially opened the newest addition to the public — the WildManDan Brewery.
Dan Tatarka and his wife, Terri, recently received their licensing and started what they believe is the smallest production brewery in the state of Virginia.
“It just called to me. You get to make it, learn the process and enjoy the product,” Dan Tatarka said about brewing beer.
Tatarka said he got into brewing his own beer like most people do, with a starter kit. During a trip to Germany, he found inspiration from people who lived in one portion of a house and ran a small brewery out of another part of the house.
A year and a half ago, the Tatarkas started to construct the brewery and tap room and get all the permits necessary to open in an old barn on the property, decorated on the outside with the Coca-Cola logo. Dan Tatarka fully retired in February and he now spends his time not just running the bed and breakfast, but also creating the beers for Nelson residents and visitors.
“He’s always sacrificing for the kids and working hard to support us. When he began planning his retirement, I said, ‘let’s make the next 10 years about you and about beer,” Terri Tatarka said.
Located in the Coca-Cola barn, the brewery is officially open to the public from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, The public also can sign up for beer tasting classes on Saturdays. The brewery is open to guests of the bed and breakfast on the weekends, and the Saturday class is included in the lodging fee.
Dan Tatarka makes the beer that fills the six different taps — built out of an old piano — from unique recipes he has created. With ingredients sourced locally, he creates the beers on site. He said it takes about six to eight hours to brew the beer and then up to three weeks to ferment it.
Currently, the six beers on tap include a Belgian ale turned into a Saison — a highly carbonated, fruity and spicy pale ale that has hints of lime and Cayenne pepper. Also on tap is an Alpaca Kick Porter, made with a balance of coffee, jalapenos and chocolate flavors.
As a certified beer judge by the Beer Judge Certification Program, Tatarka is familiar with all the different styles of beer.
“I’m inspired by many things — podcasts or food or other drinks,” he said.
Corey Tatarka, their daughter and assistant brewer, said since officially opening April 1, everything has been going well. Corey Tatarka began brewing on and off with her dad three or four years ago and thought she would go back to school and pursue a master brewer degree.
“I decided I could just learn with family and hands on,” she said. After completing an internship with Olde Salem Brewing Company, her family’s new production brewery opened and the opportunity as assistant brewer fell into place.
“We’re just trying to get the word out and, because we are a small operation, keeping up with demand,” Corey said.
Terri and Dan Tatarka said they believe people are in need of personal interaction and a break from the isolation of technology. Their bed and breakfast is set up in ways to encourage personal interaction — for example, the bedrooms don’t have TVs — and the brewery is now set up in the same way. The barn includes comfortable lounge chairs and board games for guests.
“Everything is designed to set people up to interact with each other. We want folks to make a real, true connection with us and other guests. Some guests coined the term ‘this place is a hug and a beer,’” Terri Tatarka said.
The six taps will vary as the Tatarkas come up with new beers. They credit some of their success to the support they received from Nelson County, other alcoholic establishments in the area and residents.
“I think if it weren’t for the support, we probably would have moved this elsewhere,” Terri Tatarka said.