Whether your palate makes you a gourmand or not, there are fun food and drink experiences for everyone this year.
1. Slurp up the favorite delicacy of the Chesapeake Bay - Crassostrea virginica (eastern oyster) – during this, the 40th anniversary of its shell being named the official shell of Virginia. Seven oyster regions yield a variety of flavors, pushing Virginia to become the Oyster Capital of the East Coast.
Texas Tavern in Roanoke, VA is famous for their hot dogs. Ask for a “hot, with.”
2. It’s been 20 years since Legend Brewing Co. in Richmond began handcrafting their legendary lagers and ales, making it Central Virginia’s oldest microbrewery. Their patio overlooking the James River boasts a great view of downtown Richmond and is an awesome place to be on a sunny day.
Fresh vegetables create a beautiful primavera at Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, VA.
4. If you’re a connoisseur of fine Virginia wines, you’ll be elated to learn that 2014 potentially ushers in EIGHT new wineries in locations such as Delaplane, North Garden, Orange, Amissville, Barhamsville, Berryville, Lovettsville, and Purcellville. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Wineville!
Fall is for pumpkin-spiced everything, so why should Virginia’s craft breweries not get in on the action? If you have yet to sample the seasonal concoctions of the Commonwealth, consider this your invitation.
Many of Virginia’s craft breweries happen to be located near great hiking and biking trails. Head out with the ones you love, then come back and settle in for an ice cold beverage and great local hospitality.
This trail runs from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, along the Potomac River north to Arlington. Concentrate on the Alexandria to Arlington portions of the trail and find that there are four breweries not too far away.
In recent years Virginia’s craft beer industry has seen a major resurgence. August Virginia Craft Beer Month was born in 2012 with nearly 40 breweries. It’s now a year later and that number has jumped to over 60. Plus, we know of at least two more opening this fall. So when did this craft beer movement start in Virginia?
All the way back at the beginning of exploration …
According to BeerAdvocate.com, the History of American Beer begins in 1587 as “Virginia colonists brew ale using corn,” and then in 1607 the “first shipment of beer arrives in the Virginia colony from England.” Apparently the English beer didn’t last long, as the history goes on to reflect “American ‘Help Wanted’ advertisements appear in London seeking brewers for the Virginia Colony” in 1609.
Beer & Founding Fathers
George Washington’s Gristmill
Beer can be traced through Virginia’s history with asterisk moments like George Washington’s beer recipe and evidence that beer and ingredients to produce it were forms of payment to his Mount Vernon employees.
Or how about Thomas Jefferson? In 1812, a retired Jefferson successfully crafted his first home brew from local hops and malt. He had a fine teacher in his wife, Martha, a small-batch brewmaster during their early years of marriage. By 1814 Jefferson was malting his own grain in his own brewhouse at Monticello. Others, including James Madison, began to take notice and sent their staff to Monticello to learn the trade.
Today we’re all about buying and shopping locally. That’s not a new concept, as George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette on January 29, 1789, “I use no porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America; both these articles may now be purchased of an excellent quality.”
Legends Brewing Co. Brewery
Handcrafted beer has been in Virginia since the beginning, though breweries have come and gone along the way. Virginia’s first modern day microbrewery was Chesbay – Chesapeake Bay Brewing Company – in Virginia Beach (no longer operational). Chesbay Double Bock won gold at the very first Great American Beer Festival in 1987. That’s quite an acclaim and a legacy for Virginia craft beer.
Though not old by my standards, Virginia’s oldest craft brewery is Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, which was established in 1994. If you’re quick on your math, you’ll note that 2014 will be Legend’s 20th anniversary. Mark that down and plan to pay a celebratory visit.
Suds on the Rise
Virginia is making frothy waves across the beer industry with acknowledgements from the likes of Travel Channel as one of the “Top 7 Beer Destinations.” Explore for yourself with our handy Beer Map, or check out our recent articles for inspiration:
What better time than August Virginia Craft Beer Month to create your own beer tour? Step back and evaluate the names of Virginia’s craft breweries and you see a trend or two start to emerge. The first is animals that howl, and the second … well, the second will be a second blog post. Watch for it!
Wild Wolf Brewing Company
Tap travel across Virginia to hit the howlers of Virginia brews. From north to south, here’s your unofficial Virginia Howlers and Growlers Craft Beer Tour:
Manassas:BadWolf Brewing Company. Sarah Meyers, co-founder of BadWolf, first officially announced her and husband Jeremy’s plan for a nanobrewery in Manassas in September 2012. She has kept faithful craft beer lovers in the loop with licensing and legislation, the tap room build-out and much more, but there’s one thing she’s not telling. Don’t ask Sarah how she and Jeremy came up with the name BadWolf. “I’m sorry to disappoint you but we want to keep it a secret how we decided on BadWolf. That’s for you to figure out!” Guess you’d better head that way and sample one of the six brews on tap to find clues.
Ruckersville:Beer Hound Brewery. Sniffing out good beer? You might fall in love with Beer Hound, a nanobrewery that opened in 2012. All of their beers are named after famous hounds of history and Hollywood. Try Archie, Duke, Kujo or Old Yella, for starters.
Nellysford:Wild Wolf Brewing Company. This brewery, restaurant, sports bar and shopping village gets its name from brewmaster Danny Wolf, who was trained at America’s oldest brewing school. Sample or take home a growler of Alpha Ale, White Wolf or Howling Pumpkin, the fall beer that blends molasses and pumpkin pie spice into a well-balanced brew.
Lexington:Blue Lab Brewing Company. A microbrewery in historic downtown Lexington? Yes indeed. Sample the beers on tap and take home a growler or keg.
Abingdon:Wolf Hills Brewing Company. Daniel Boone trekked the mountains and valleys along the Great Road and into the Wilderness — today’s Abingdon. It was on this southern end of the Great Road that Boone’s dogs encountered a wolf pack from a nearby cave. That one sleepless night lives on in legend, and now, in name as Wolf Hills Brewing Company. Visit the Wolf Den Tasting Room from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays or Thursdays, affectionately dubbed “Growler Hours,” to enjoy small-batch brews.
Check out our Craft Beer Map to find more delicious Virginia beverages and to plan your own craft beer tour.