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Virginia Beer Trails & Tours

by Casey | Posted on August 18th, 2014

Ready for a ride on the Virginia craft beer bandwagon? If so, please do one of two things: 1) Designate a driver or 2) Take a chauffeured tour. Here’s how you can responsibly sip, sample and enjoy Virginia craft beer.

Virginia's Blue Ridge Beer Loop

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Beer Loop

– TASTING ON YOUR OWN –

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Beer Loop was unveiled just in time for August Virginia Craft Beer Month and includes six breweries around the Roanoke Valley. The Loop is a self-guided tour, which enables you to take your time and truly enjoy that one beer you find and love.

  • Big Lick Brewing Co. – Roanoke – opening Labor Day weekend!
  • Callaway Brewing Co. – Callaway
  • Chaos Mountain Brewing – Callaway
  • Flying Mouse Brewery – Troutville
  • Parkway Brewing Co. – Salem
  • Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers – Roanoke

Here’s Something …¬†When you visit all six breweries this month (and have your passport stamped) you’ll be entered to win prizes!¬†Download the Brochure and Map

Spread your craft beer experience over a couple of days and throw in a winery (10 to choose from), a distillery and a cidery to make it a well-rounded Virginia tasting. An example is the Red, White and Brew Trail in Nelson County:

  • Blue Mountain Barrel House
  • Blue Mountain Brewery
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Company
  • Wild Wolf Brewery

Some of the Red, White and Brew sites are also on the Nelson 151 Trail. See the Map

In a similar way, the Brew Ridge Trail incorporates many of the sites mentioned above, plus hops over to Charlottesville to pick up Starr Hill and South Street breweries. Additional attractions and places to stay are also listed for consideration.

– CHAUFFEURED TOURS –

Richmond Brewery Tours

Richmond Brewery Tours

Richmond Brewery Tours has been doing the driving for craft beer enthusiasts for two years, and there’s no sign of business slowing down. Craft beer is exploding in the Richmond region, with new breweries seeming to pop up all the time. The 14 passenger bus delivers you and your friends to three Richmond breweries for tastings and tours. Special tour events, like “Brews & Burlesque” are a hit with locals and visitors alike. Regular public tours are available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.¬†Book Your Tour

Reston Limousine is running the NoVA Brew Bus to Mad Fox Brewing, Port City Brewing and Forge Brew Works on September 6, departing from Reston Town Center. Get behind-the-scenes tours, tasting, and even lunch at Mad Fox when you book this all-day craft beer excursion. Book Your Tour

Additional Upcoming Tours:

– STAY LONGER –

The Mark Addy Inn

The Mark Addy Inn

Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in Orange is offering private tours for two to six in a luxury Cadillac Escalade. Tour sites can include breweries, wineries or cideries. This is an add-on to your stay with rates from $225 for six.

Stay with The Mark Addy Inn in Nellysford and get a taste of the aforementioned Red, White and Brew Trail. This package is good for two nights until August 28 (better hurry!), and includes their three-course breakfast, plus a bottle of red Virginia wine, a bottle of white Virginia wine, and a six-pack of Virginia craft beer to take home. Six VIP vouchers are included for wine and/or craft beer tours and tastings, plus a $50 discount on a four-hour chauffeured tour. Rates start at $355 for two (room included). Book Now

Belle Hearth Bed and Breakfast in Waynesboro invites you to stay two nights and receive a welcome basket of wine or beer and other goodies. Your stay will include a chauffeured tour to three wineries and/or microbreweries. Rates from $380 (room included). Offer good through November 30, 2014.

Now that Staunton has two craft breweries to boast, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel has put together a craft beer package for your visit. Stay a night and receive a six-beer flight at Redbeard, two pints at Shenandoah Valley Brewing, and a free tasting at Hops retail store, plus a gift certificate to Shenandoah Pizza, breakfast, and parking. Rates from $199 for two. Book Now

Where will your love of craft beer take you? Check out Virginia.org/CraftBeer to see what you’re missing.

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11 Award-Winning Virginia Craft Breweries

by Casey | Posted on August 13th, 2014

Virginia is brewing some really tasty craft beer and the nation is noticing. The craft beer industry in Virginia has boomed very quickly from just a handful of breweries a couple of years ago to more than 80 as of this writing. It appears that Virginians and visitors passing through our beautiful Commonwealth are enjoying the liquid love on tap.

Devils Backbone Brewing Company and Restaurant

Devils Backbone Brewing Company and Restaurant

If 80+ breweries seems overwhelming, let this be a quick-start guide. Go where the big awards are (World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival, for starters) and then launch your flight tastings from there. Here are 11 award-winning craft breweries you should try now in Virginia.

1. Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland is a solid craft beer starter experience. DBB has certainly made a mark for itself in the world of craft beer since its 2008 opening. In 2013 alone DBB brought home six Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals, plus two World Beer Cup (WBC) medals this year! Such acclaim boosts you to statuses like Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (2012 and 2013 Great American Beer Festival) and Champion Brewery and Brewmaster (2010 World Beer Cup).

  • Old Virginia Dark American-Style Dark Lager – 2014 WBC Gold Medal, 2013 GABF Gold Medal
  • Vienna Lager – 2014 WBC Silver Medal¬†(Outpost¬†in Lexington)
  • Danzig Baltic-Style Porter – 2010 WBC ¬†Gold Medal¬†and 2013 GABF Bronze Medal
  • Morning Bear Coffee Flavored Beer – 2010 WBC Bronze Medal
  • Schwartz Bier German-Style Schwarzbier – 2010 WBC Bronze Medal
  • Kollaborator Traditional German-Style Bock – 2010 WBC Bronze Medal
  • Azreal Belgian- and French-Style Ale – 2013 GABF Gold Medal (Outpost)
  • Gold Leaf Lager American-Style or International-Style Pilsener – 2013 GABF Silver Medal
  • Berliner Metro Weiss German-Style Sour Ale – 2013 GABF Silver Medal
  • Ale of Fergus English-Style Mid Ale – 2013 GABF Bronze Medal
  • See More Awards
Starr Hill Brewery

Starr Hill Brewery

2. Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet near Charlottesville is one of Virginia’s oldest craft breweries (1999). Starr Hill’s eight core brews, four seasonal brews and select limited edition brews have together garnered 21 medals from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup over the years. Here are the most recent accolades:

  • Whiter Shade of Pale White IPA – 2014 WBC Gold Medal
  • Dark Starr Stout Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout – 2008 WBC Silver Medal
  • Amber Ale Irish Red Ale – 2002 WBC Bronze Medal
  • Soul Shine Belgian-Style Pale Ale – 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship Bronze Medal
  • See the Complete List

3. Apocalypse Ale Works in Forest proclaims, “the end of bad beer is here!” and they invite you to try what championship judges have loved.

  • Heavy Red Horseman Scottish-Style Ale – 2014 WBC Gold Medal
  • Red Hoppocalypse Imperial Red Ale – 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship Silver Medal
  • Lustful Maiden Belgian Abbey Ale – Dubbel – 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal
Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountain Brewery

4. Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton is Virginia’s first countryside brewery, hop farm and tasting room, not to mention, they have a farm-to-table restaurant on-site. Ten brews are on tap daily. Here are their latest accolades:

  • Blue Reserve American- Belgian-Style Ale – 2012 WBC Silver Medal
  • Rockfish Wheat American-Style Wheat – 2010 WBC Silver Medal

5. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond operates a sustainable operation, with their energy being charged by wind and other renewable sources. If that doesn’t make you feel good about a visit, maybe a World Beer Cup acknowledgement will.¬†Hardywood Gingerbread Stout¬†won a 2012 WBC Bronze Medal in the¬†Herb and Spice category.

6. Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria is just a hop, skip and a jump from Washington, DC, making it a favorite reprieve from Capital life. Their recent acclaims include …

  • Optimal Wit Belgian-Style Witbier – 2013 GABF Gold Medal
  • Oktoberfest Vienna-Style Lager – 2013 GABF Silver Medal
  • Colossal One Aged Beer – 2013 GABF Bronze Medal
  • Colossal Two Smoke Beer – 2013 GABF Bronze Medal
Three Brothers Brewing

Three Brothers Brewing

7. Lost Rhino Brewing Co. in Ashburn pairs locally-sourced eats with their gently handcrafted brews. Try the Rhino’fest M√§rzen, just released for the season today! It was awarded a gold medal in the German-Style¬†M√§rzen category at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival.

8. Smartmouth Brewing Co. in Norfolk claims to “geek out to the science of brewing,” which is becoming evident when the judges of the Great American Beer Festival award them a bronze medal in 2013 for their Notch 9 Double IPA. Great effort sometimes equals great reward.

9. Three Brothers Brewing in Harrisonburg is actually comprised of three brothers a’brewin’. The brothers and their brewery are homegrown and loyal to their local roots, which makes a bronze medal for their Rum Barrel Belgium Dubbel Style IPA all the sweeter (2013 Great American Beer Festival).

10. Wolf Hills Brewing Co. in Abingdon only distributes locally to ensure optimum freshness and flavor. That being said, more than the region is taking notice of their brews.

  • White IPA Out of Bounds IPA – 2014 U. S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal
  • White Blaze Honey Cream Ale American Cream Ale – 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship Silver Medal
  • Ordinary Bitter – 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship Bronze Medal

11. South Street Brewery in Charlottesville was founded in 1998, but you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the grand re-opening of this local brewpub. Here’s to hoping their award-winning beverages are still on tap!

  • South Street Tripel Belgian Abbey Ale – 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal and 2011 Bronze Medal
  • Anastasia’s Chocolate Stout – 2011 U.S. Open Beer¬†Championship Silver Medal
  • Satan’s Pony Scottish Ale – 2011 U.S. Open Beer¬†Championship Bronze Medal and Judges’ Award for one of the Most Creative Names
  • South Street Dubbel – 2011 U.S. Open Beer¬†Championship Bronze Medal

Without a doubt there are tons more medals hanging around bottles in Virginia’s brewpubs. Explore and taste for yourself, especially during August Virginia Craft Beer Month, and let us know via the comments section about your favorite award-winning Virginia craft beer.

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Great American Beer Festival – Virginia Winners – 1990-2013



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Oz Clarke is a Fan of Virginia

by Casey | Posted on August 6th, 2014

“What do I like about Virginia? The countryside. It’s magnificent,” said¬†Robert “Oz” Clarke. Clarke recently sat down to discuss his 2013 trip to Virginia, at which time he was the keynote speaker at the¬†Virginia Wine Summit.

Barboursville Vineyards

Barboursville Vineyards

Before Clarke discussed Virginia’s ability to grow great Viognier, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, however, he gushed over Virginia’s Southern hospitality, history, and music. Check out the video.

Mr. Clarke is a well-known international wine connoisseur, with his own website stating, his “formidable reputation is based on his extensive wine knowledge and accessible, no-nonsense approach.” In short, Oz knows his stuff and he isn’t shy about sharing his opinion. To back it up, Mr. Clarke is a decorated writer on the subject, garnering awards from the Glenfiddich and Wine Guild multiple times each, Andr√© Simon, James Beard, Julia Child, World Food Media and Lanson, among numerous others.¬†Clarke is a bestselling author and has appeared in several BBC series, including his most recent ‘Oz and Hugh’s Last Orders.’ Harpers hails, “Oz Clarke is the nearest thing to genius in the world of wine writing.”

“It took me a long time to get to Virginia. I thought it was absolutely smashing.” – Oz Clarke

Learn more about visiting Virginia’s wineries at Virginia.org/wine.



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Virginia: Bon Appétit Appalachia!

by Casey | Posted on August 5th, 2014

Virginia’s Appalachia is ripe for the tasting, and Bon App√©tit Appalachia! maps out fresh, local flavors for your road trip indulgences. Please your palate at 65 sites within Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands, Heart of Appalachia and Shenandoah Valley.¬†For the ultimate tasting adventure (a bucket list by itself, really!), eat your way through the entire 205,0000-square-mile region along the Appalachian Mountains (Mississippi to New York).

Cuz's Uptown Barbeque

Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque

When you spend¬†three days along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, you can indulge in a delish dish from Bon App√©tit Appalachia! farm-to-fork restaurant Oddfella’s Cantina, as well as the restaurant at Chateau Morrisette Winery. Extend your stay or mix in tastings from additional¬†Appalachian wineries, including¬†Abingdon Vineyard and Winery and¬†MountainRose Vineyards.

When in Lexington be sure to see the historic Natural Bridge as you sip and savor your way around. Rockbridge Vineyard, Lexington Valley Vineyard and Southern Inn Restaurant are all Bon Appétit Appalachia! stops.

The Bon Appétit Appalachia! initiative is vast. Forks up and napkins down for all of the fantastic flavors that await!

The Palisades Restaurant

The Palisades Restaurant

A SAMPLE OF FARM TO FORK RESTAURANTS

A SAMPLE OF CRAFT BREWERIES & SPIRITS

A SAMPLE OF WINERIES & VINEYARDS

Additionally, the map outlines farm tours, festivals, and farmers markets that deliver fresh tastes and first-hand culinary experiences. Download the map (22 Virginia sites) or navigate online to see all 65 Virginia sites.

Virginia: Bon Appétit Appalachia!



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The Best of Virginia: Cities & Towns

by Casey | Posted on July 29th, 2014

When you love a place, you rally behind it to make sure everyone knows how great it is. Vote-offs like “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel are annual favorites, and Virginia towns have been included in two of the last three votes. A real pride of place, however, takes over when a publication names the town or city closest to your heart as “best” or “favorite” without any public input. The accolades that these Virginia towns and cities have garnered are well deserved. Do add them to your travel bucket list to see the sweet gems you’ve been missing out on.

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson

Abingdon

  • Best Performing Arts Town -The South’s Most Creative Small Towns, Garden and Gun, 2011

Alexandria

  • Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S., Amazon.com, 2014
  • Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013
  • Best Small Cities for Art Lovers, Nerdwallet, 2013

Blacksburg

  • #14, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living

Bristol

  • Best Music Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles

  • #4, Perfect Little Beach Town, Southern Living

Charlottesville

  • #1, Happiest American Cities, Harvard Gazette, 2014 (per National Bureau for Economic Research)
  • #1, Top 5 College Towns in America, Travelers Today, 2014
  • Top Five Destinations Every American Should Visit, Orbitz Worldwide, 2014
  • #9, America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • #1, America’s 5 New Foodie Cities, Wine Enthusiast, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, America’s Best Small Towns for Food, TheDailyMeal.com, 2013
  • #14, America’s Favorite Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, Top College Towns, TravelChannel.com
  • #2, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living

Chincoteague

  • #1, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
  • #6, 8 of the Best Small Town Getaways in the U.S., WallStCheatSheet.com, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best Little Beach Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Culpeper

  • One of America’s Top 10 Small Towns. Crampton, Norman.¬†The 100 Best Small Towns in America.
Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby

Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby

Floyd

  • 50 Great American Places to Visit this Summer, Men’s Journal, 2013

Fredericksburg

  • #9,¬†America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Galax

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011

Harrisonburg

  • Best Beer Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • #5, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Lexington

  • Best Small Towns to Visit, Smithsonian Magazine, 2013
  • #14,¬†America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • 10 Coolest Small Towns in America, Budget Travel, 2009

Luray

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011

Lynchburg

  • 50 Best Places to Live & Play, National Geographic, 2007
Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation

Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation

Middleburg

  • Best Small Town Weekend Getaways, Southern Living
  • #6, 20 Best Day Trips in the U.S., Fodor’s Travel, 2014

Richmond

  • Frommer’s Top Destinations for 2014, Frommer’s, 2014
  • Best Town Ever, Outside, 2012

Roanoke

  • Top 10 Valentine’s Day Getaways, WorldPropertyChannel.com, 2014
  • 10Best: Bike-Friendly Cities, USAToday.com, 2014
  • Best Trail Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • Best Mid-Sized Mountain Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2012

Smithfield

  • #41, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
Virginia Beach. ©John Henley

Virginia Beach. ©John Henley

Staunton

  • America’s Best Main Streets, Fordor’s Travel, 2014
  • America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • America’s Greatest Main Streets, Travel + Leisure, 2012
  • Best Small Towns in America, Smithsonian Magazine, 2012

Virginia Beach

  • Top 10 Summer Destinations, Priceline.com, 2014
  • Top 20 Destinations for Fourth of July Travel, Priceline.com, 2014
  • Best Cities for Summer Drives, NBCNews.com, 2013
  • Top 10 Art Beaches, Huffington Post Travel, 2013
  • 8 Great Labor Day Weekend Getaways, Budget Travel, 2013
  • 7 Most Beautiful and Underrated Cities in the U.S., EscapeHere.com, 2013

Williamsburg

  • #2, Best Historic Destinations in the USA, US News & World Report, 2014-15
  • #3, 10Best: Best Historic Cities, USAToday.com, 2014
  • #3, 10Best: Places to Explore American History, USAToday.com, 2014
  • 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in Virginia in 2014, Smithsonian Magazine
  • #4, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • These Old Towns are the Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013 (Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement)
  • #7 Best Weekend Getaways, US News & World Report
  • #8, 8 Affordable Family Vacations, US News & World Report

Which Virginia city or town is your favorite and why? Leave a comment to let us know!

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