Nestled comfortably in Nelson County, VA along the beautiful Nelson 151 travel destination for Virginia wine, craft beer, hard cider and outdoor recreation, WildManDan’s Beercentric Bed and Breakfast is raising the bar for a beer and brewing vacation experience.
Full disclosure, I have been a guest at WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B before (that’s how I met them!), and I loved every single second of my stay. Terri and “WildManDan” Dan Tatarka are two of the coolest people I have ever met, and after a day as one of their guests you’ll think of them as family.
The experience of staying at WildManDan’s starts before you even make it to the property. Virginia Route 151 is a designated Virginia scenic byway on the sunrise side of the Blue Ridge that connects the Nelson 151 member businesses, consisting of world-class breweries, wineries, and cideries. If you haven’t been to Nelson County, I highly recommend it. And if you do visit, you need to meet Terri and Dan.
As you pull into the property, you will immediately notice a large red barn and a beautiful farm house; the perfect representation of rural Virginia. The house was originally built in the 1870s, and after a time as a post office, became WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B. Added to the property sometime in the 1920s or so, the Brew Barn has now been converted into Virginia’s smallest production brewery setting WildManDan’s apart from any other bed and breakfast. During your stay, you’ll have the opportunity to try a few of the exceptional beers that are brewed onsite, and you may even be able to join Dan for a brew day.
But before all of that, you’ll need to check in. But don’t worry, at WildManDan’s even check-in is fun! You’ll be greeted with a hug (or at least you were before the COVID-19 pandemic) and a delicious welcome beer. By the time the glass is empty, you’ll feel right at home.
The accommodations are lovely, with a beercentric theme that flows through the decor, room names, and even the beer soap in the bathrooms. We stayed in the cottage, a small standalone 2-bedroom house next to the barn and across the property from the main house, which was perfect for a 2-couple group looking for a weekend getaway. The main house is even more impressive, and has a fascinating history that Terri has been able to trace back to 1872.
A chef-prepared farm-to-table breakfast is served each morning by Terri. Did I mention she’s a chef? Well she is, and not only that – she’s an incredible one. This is not your normal B&B fare, and you won’t find cereal and store-bought pastries at WildManDan’s. Instead, you’ll start with dessert, perhaps one of Terri’s famous strawberry shortcakes, before moving on to a fresh egg frittata made with eggs from chickens raised on the property, a garden salad, and a selection of fresh local breakfast meats.
After breakfast, you’ll have the option of brewing with WildManDan, learning about brewing ingredients, and tasting a selection of WMD beers, or venturing out on your own along Nelson 151 and exploring the seemingly endless breweries, wineries, and cideries within just a few miles. After dinner, you can retire back to WMD, where a large bonfire, hammock chairs, and a few more beers will be waiting for you.
Dan brews award-winning home crafted ales and enjoys teaching you to do the same. Dan has spent years perfecting his award winning brews…Chai-Laxin and Dark Matter IPA and he is always eager to share his brew techniques with you. In his own words, “I brew in my barn every week, and if you want to learn…come join me.” Here’s a list of some of Dan’s accomplishments:
- Home Brewer of the Year: 2014
- National Home Brew First Place 2017
- Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Brewer
- Siebel Institute Training
- Chemistry of Beer Training
- BJCP Beer Judge
- Fiber Optic Engineer/ The Son of Fiber Optics
- Proud Father and Husband
- 2019 Production Brewery on site
With 30 years of restaurant and hotel management experience, Terri is a wild woman who loves the passionate crazies she meets in the hospitality industry…co-workers, customers, vendors, brewers, chefs…mad as hatters, the lot of them – also, some of the most talented and generous folks on the planet. She is all in on this excellent adventure. Ask her about hiking the Inca Trail, about WildManDan Brews, or sorbet recipes – her eyes twinkle with the same excitement! Here’s a list of a few of Terri’s accomplishments:
- Sou Chef Training under Chef Ziggy-Opryland Hotel
- Pastry Chef Training under Master New Orleans Chef Boo
- Hotel/Restaurant Management 30 years-most recently Carrabba’s Italian Grill
- Married to my favorite person on the planet so far (I haven’t met everyone yet)
- Proud Mother and Wife
- Built a Brew Space
- MischiefMakers LLC Distribution (in process)
Let’s start the interview!
Thanks for joining us, Terri and WildManDan! Our hope is that other homebrewers who are interested in opening a brewery or other brewing-related business can learn from and be inspired by your experience in running WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B! We’re excited to be speaking with you!
Tell us a little bit about WildManDan’s Beercentric Bed and Breakfast!
WildManDan’s Beercentric Bed and Breakfast is a bed and breakfast with an onsite nanobrewery nestled in Nelson County, VA! We opened the bed and breakfast on July 4th, 2015, and officially opened the brewery last year! Prior to opening the brewery, we homebrewed in the barn, but now we are officially Virginia’s smallest production brewery, providing delicious beer in all styles. We have six revolving taps, tours, special event brews, and beer classes here at WildManDan’s!
Our mission statement is:
Provide the quiet little things that turn a visit into a memory.
Value each guest as an opportunity for growth, connection and lasting relationships.
All are welcome, discrimination and intolerance do not reside here.
What was the progression of building WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B as a business?
Dan: I’ve always enjoyed different beers from around the world and discovered the fresher they are the better they taste. Homebrewing was an exploding hobby and seemed a logical choice to try my hand at it. The science and engineering parts spoke to my background and I found out I really liked making beer.
Like most homebrewers, started out in the kitchen using extracts. The first beer I brewed was a brown ale from an extract kit. It was…drinkable. I brewed on the kitchen stove and cooled in the sink. I had to get the kitchen cleaned up before Terri came home from work so she wouldn’t know how messy I was while brewing. One time she caught me when she noticed an explosive accident that hit the ceiling and the cupboards.
After getting more and more into the hobby, I found and joined a homebrew club in my area. I started to upgrade equipment and eventually moved to a 10-gallon single-tier 3-vessel system propane system. Now we’re the smallest production brewery in Virginia using a 1/2 BBL system with the idea that we will eventually grow into a larger system.
Deciding to Jump
Terri: The story of how we decided to make the jump into doing this fulltime is a fun one. In 2012, Dan and I were hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, somewhere at about 11,000 feet above sea level where there is very little oxygen. Dan was getting close to retirement age, and he turned to me and plainly stated that he wants to retire and brew beer. Again, there’s not a lot of oxygen at that altitude, so I said, “Ok! Let’s do it!” That was in 2012. By 2014, we had closed on the property and started the remodeling project needed to adapt the old 1870s farmhouse into a bed and breakfast.
Opening a Bed and Breakfast
Our overarching goal was to ensure that Wild Man Dan was able to retire and execute a smooth transition to the world of beer!
We decided on starting the business as a bed and breakfast because it seemed like a logical first step towards our perfect retirement. Because of our unique backgrounds, with Terri working in hotels and restaurants for 30 years and Dan being an engineer who took to brewing quickly, the B&B seemed to fit.
The idea was that the bed and breakfast could cover the overhead costs of the brewery start up. So, we needed a location that had a space for brewery expansion and also in an area with established tourism. Nelson 151 was the perfect fit!
Initially, we started out homebrewing for our guests. Our inspiration to move into becoming a licensed brewery was that our guests really liked the beer and wanted more, but due to the Virginia ABC laws, we weren’t able to provide more beyond sampling. Having a “brew” barn on site we went ahead and got licensed as the smallest production brewery in Virginia. We were received very well by everyone that stopped in. We offer a beer tasting class and guests can brew with the brewer for special events like weddings or social gatherings.
Brewing a Business
We’ve been really excited about how it has progressed. WildManDan’s won Best of the Blue Ridge for the best inn/B&B in our 4th year of operation. This is grand praise due to the reputation of the other nominated businesses and especially because our guests not only nominated us, but outvoted everyone else! We love each and every nutjob that voted for us.
Honestly, that’s what we do and the greatest joy of this adventure: making connections with folks who swing through for a weekend getaway. We aren’t the typical hosts. We great you with a hug and beer, we host smore’s and beer around the firepit, we select top notch local ingredients for a breakfast made with love (always a secret ingredient) and we make no fuss about special food concerns or requests. After breakfast, you join WildManDan in the BrewBarn for a beer class before setting about your day on Nelson 151.
Simply put, we make real and meaningful connections with each and every guest. We created a place a place that we would want to go and hang out with friends and family. In our extensive travels we were able to develop a list of what not to do! This information has become invaluable!
- We want to meet and have a beer with the brewer.
- We want to become students of the Beer Brewing art.
- As Home Brewers, we envisioned the opportunity for our beer to be on tap at our favorite local “water hole”
- We created an Oasis for home brewers to realize their dreams and aspirations, or at a minimum, drink to them!!
What has been your greatest success and your greatest challenge in running the Beercentric B&B?
Our greatest reward has been the personal relationships forged over the years, siting around the fire pit, beer in hand, solving the most complex problems of the world!
The greatest challenge we’ve faced is that although I have a love for animals, I have yet to crack the code on being a dog friendly establishment without going broke. We had to stop allowing pets on the property after too many people abused it.
What advice would you share with other homebrewers who are interested in opening a beer and brewing-related business?
Get a reliable booking system that works with your financial systems. You don’t want to be handling all of that manually.
Be self-aware. Do you REALLY like people? Any foray into the hospitality industry is not for the weak or lazy or anyone without the ability to maintain extremely high standards.
Don’t attempt to be everything to everyone: you will fail. It’s ok to say no, we can’t do that and here are some other locations that you can call. (For example, we are only open on weekends).
Build a culture and have the backbone to stand up for the environment you cultivate, be brave and say goodbye to guests who violate your rules.
Have a backup in case of emergencies (what are your resources?) Terri calls it our escape pod.
Our single biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to open a B&B is that you must be aware of your own financial situation, and understand that overextending your resources will result in downward spiral, very fast.
What is a common myth about the beer and brewing industry that you want to debunk?
The myth that we would debunk is that anyone can do this. The dedication, and energy required to successfully operate this type of business has to be above reproach. This is not for everyone.
What are your plans for the future of WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B?
Our goal is controlled growth of the brewery space in order for it to be self-sustaining. We are currently in the process of expanding the space in the BrewBarn to include a second floor. This increases the potential for small events and feeds into the bookings of the bed and breakfast. Converting an 1900’s Cola Barn takes some doing, but let’s be honest – it’s just a damn cool space.
To be honest, we have no idea what the next year and or 5 will bring as we are in the middle of an unprecedented time responding to COVID-19. We have been able to reopen with some new COVID-19 policies, but it’s hard to plan for the next few years in this current environment. All we can say currently is that WE WILL BE WAITING! When things get back to normal, we will be focused on B&B recovery and brewery growth.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
The intangible warmth and true affection we have received has actually restored my faith in humanity. During the COVID pandemic, the amount of calls, emails, texts, and letters we have received from our guests/friends who are truly concerned with our well-being is how we have been making it through this difficult time. We love you all!
How can people connect with you?
The best places to connect with us are:
- Coming to stay with us!
- WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B Website
- WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B on Facebook
- WildManDan Brewery on Facebook
- WildManDan on Instagram
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Best of luck to you in the future!
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