Vanish, the tasting room at Black Hops Farm in Lucketts, will be getting a little help from accomplished chef Bryan Voltaggio.
Voltaggio runs several restaurants in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, including Family Meal in Ashburn. He is known to national audiences from his appearance on Top Chef, where he placed second to his brother Michael.
He is also business partner to Hilda Staples and a longtime friend of her husband, Jonathan Staples, who started the brewery at Black Hops Farm.
“I met him when he and Hilda first started talking about doing Volt [Voltaggio’s restaurant in Frederick, MD] together, and we became friends,” Jonathan Staples said. “We both skateboard, so ironically we kind of bonded over that.”
“We definitely grew up on skateboards,” Voltaggio said. “Now, unfortunately, I have to be at restaurants on a regular basis, so I can’t afford to break anything.”
Black Hops Farm is also the site of the region’s first hops processing center and Virginia’s first dedicated malting operation—both projects were announced in person by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is working to boost the commonwealth’s craft brewing industry.
With Voltaggio’s help, the tasting room will be a little bit of a first, too.
“I’m big fan of breweries, and what they usually have is food trucks,” Staples said. “When I was thinking about the food there at Vanish, what I’d hoped to figure out was a way to have something that was more integrated with what we were doing, as opposed to someone that popped in for the day and then left.”
Working from their own menu, Staples said, will give Vanish a way to customize and pair its beers and Voltaggio’s barbecue.
“It was the idea of having food more integrated with the overall brewery,” he said. “It was the idea of the food being part of the experience.”
“It’s gonna be cool, and I’m really excited about doing this,” Voltaggio said. “For me, I love cooking outdoors. Barbecue is a passion and a love that I don’t get to do on a regular basis.”
The food will be prepared with help from the staff at Family Meal, while Voltaggio continues his practice of sourcing his meats from around the region. Staples and Voltaggio plan to have the smoker fully up and running by Valentine’s Day weekend, and both will be tinkering with their recipes from then on to match them perfectly.
“I think naturally, beer pairs with barbecue in many different ways,” Voltaggio said. “Week one, it’s barbecue and beer. I think maybe week 10, you might see a little bit more focus on trying to play off the subtle nuances of the beer. Right now, it’s about smoky, charred, delicious meat.”