Grain farmer grows for the ‘smiles’

Robb Hinton of Cedar Plains Farm in Northumberland County grows wheat for Port City Brewing Company’s Optimal Wit beer. Photo courtesy of Port City Brewing.

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

An award-winning beer brewed in Alexandria gets its start a few hours away in fields in the Northern Neck.

Optimal Wit, which won a gold medal August 31 at the 2020 Virginia Craft Beer Cup, is the flagship beer of Port City Brewing Company. I stumbled upon it a few years ago at an Irvington beer fest and was hooked. A wine drinker by choice and a beer drinker by necessity, I struggle to find a craft beer for my palate. But Optimal Wit, a light, crisp and citrusy beer brewed with Virginia wheat, is brewed on Hinton-family farmland in my native Northumberland County. No wonder I liked it.

“It’s a raw wheat. You can tell it’s a wheaty beer,” said Robb Hinton of Cedar Plains Farm in Browns Store, who grows the wheat for Optimal Wit, a Belgian-style Witbier.

Hinton connected with Port City Brewing by way of…

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