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Secrets of the Brewmasters

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 7th, 2014

Virginia has had a long love affair with beer; it’s been enjoyed here since 1607 and we even have a recipe from George Washington for his brew.

From Ales to Vienna Lagers and everything in between, dozens of breweries across the state help quench our thirst for quality quaffs.

If that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, here is another: August is officially Virginia Craft Beer Month, and many breweries, restaurants and bars have special events and other offerings to raise a glass to.

It’s no secret that it’s a great time now – as well as the whole year through – to enjoy a Virginia craft beer, but there are a few insider tips for making the most of the sips, and we spoke with five brewmasters to learn a few.

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Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
4100 Knolls Point Dr., Goochland

Farris Loutfi of Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Farris Loutfi of Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Brewery Opened: 2013

Brewery Offers: 6 regular beers; 10 seasonal beers

Signature Brew: Three Chopt Tripel is a non-stopped-hopped version of a European Classic.  What I like about it is the fantastic combination of citrus, spice and honey notes the beer has.  It is also remarkably refreshing and drinkable despite it’s high ABV of 9.3 percent.

Tours/Tastings Offered: Open Wednesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to sunset and Saturday and Sunday, noon to sunset.

From Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, Chief Beer Officer:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

The quality of Virginia craft beer is second to none, [and the] breweries themselves are fantastic destinations to visit and bring out of town guests. Craft beer gives a sense of regional identity to a place and gives those who live in the area something they can take personal pride in.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

Virginia craft breweries focus on quality in every aspect of their business.  We create unique beers and serve them in a fantastic setting.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

The best way is to try and have a clean palate between tastings and to take notes [that includes the] brewery name, beer name, beer type, general descriptors and some type of rating system.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Batchleors Delight Rum Barrel Aged Belgian-style Quadrupel Ale paired with roasted lamb and Three Chopt Tripel with fresh scallops.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Two beer releases: Creator German-Style Doppelbock on Aug. 9 and Rosemary Saison, made from rosemary on the farm, on Aug. 16.

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Lost Rhino Brewing Co.
21730 Red Rum Dr. #142, Ashburn

Lost Rhino Brewing Company. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Lost Rhino Brewing Company. Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Brewery Opened: 2011

Brewery Offers: 5 year-round beers; 4 seasonal beers; up to 12 beers on tap in tasting room

Signature Brew: Face Plant IPA, a strong malty backbone, pleasant grapefruit bitterness, great herbal hop flavor and delicate floral hop aroma

Tours/Tastings Offered: The tasting room is open Tuesday-Sunday afternoons; tours are on Saturdays

From Favio Garcia, co-founder and Director of Brewing Operations:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Overall there is a growing appreciation of small business and local craft. In our increasing homogenized world many are looking for a unique experience, be it food, drink or art.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

Without a doubt the variety of styles. Virginia breweries are producing a wide array of different styles from crisp lager to wild ales and doing them well.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

If you have the time and inclination start up a conversation with a regular, they will steer you to the must try of week.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Face Plant IPA – I think our India Pale Ale goes great with any grilled foods, especially seafood.

Woody Stout- This bourbon barrel-aged stout as you can imagine goes very well a chocolate desert, but it very fun to pair strong cheeses with this roasty sweet beauty.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Lost Rhino will be releasing Native Son, our all-Virginia Beer. Every ingredient in this beer is from the commonwealth.

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Redbeard Brewing Company
129 S. Lewis St., Staunton

Brewery Opened:  2013

Brewery Offers:  3-4 flagship beers, 3-4 seasonal beers; 6-8 beers usually on tap

Signature Brew: Black Rye IPA – it combines the roastiness and body of a dry stout with the hop-forward aroma and finish of an IPA.

Tours/Tastings Offered:  The taproom is open Fridays, 4-11 p.m., Saturdays, noon-11 p.m., and Sundays, 1-11 p.m.

From Jonathan Wright, founder and brewer:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

[It] is due primarily to the passage of [a bill allowing] breweries to sell their product in an on-site tasting/taproom. Small breweries such as Redbeard [can] focus on clientele and [create] a solid portfolio of quality offerings without the need to distribute all of our product to wholesalers at low margins.

What are some craft beer trends you see?

The revival and Americanization of Old World styles like sour beers, and the expansion of the lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) “session” segment of the market.

Sour beers of various type are extremely en vogue, [ranging] from a light tartness [to] the sourest thing on earth.

The lower ABV beers that are in fashion are a great way to enjoy the act of drinking, without getting drunk.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

Know what you’re getting into, do your homework, make sure they’re open the day you will visit, make sure the beer styles they typically offer are up your alley.

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

Drink what you think you’ll like, eat what you think you’ll like.  Be adventurous once you’ve had your fill of those to expand and educate your palate.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

There’s a new beer to try and new friends to make any time you visit, any time of the year.

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Roanoke Railhouse Brewing Co.
3106 Franklin Rd., Roanoke

Brewery Opened: 2009

Brewery Offers: 3 regular beers; 4 seasonal beers

Signature Brew: Track 1 Amber Lager was created to produce the flavor profile identified by the focus group research conducted for us by Martin Research. Track 1 is robust in a subtle manor with the emphases on malt.  It is a true,” Session” beer with low after taste and a silky smooth mouth feel.

Tours/Tastings Offered: Wednesday through Friday, 5-9:30 p.m., Saturday, 2-7:30 p.m., Sunday, 3-6 p.m.

From Steve Davidson, president:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Recent [laws] allowing breweries [that permit] on premise sales.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

The craft beer industry is not just about alcohol sales. We are creating jobs that spread throughout the commonwealth. Transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and one of the most important aspects of the state economy, tourism are all positively affected by craft beer

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

We hope to celebrate by reopening [in our new location.]

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The St. George Brewing Co.
204 Challenger Way, Hampton

The St. George Brewing Company

The St. George Brewing Company

Brewery Opened: 1996

Brewery Offers:  11 regular: 5 traditional ales and lagers, 4 imperial styles and 2 hybrids; 6 seasonal

Signature Brew: St. George IPA, a classic, English-style India Pale Ale full-flavored beer, easy drinking without overwhelming the taste palate.

Tours/Tastings Offered:  Retail sales are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From Andy Rathmann, brewmaster:

What has caused the explosion of interest in craft beer in Virginia?

Virginia has seen quite a few microbreweries since they came on the scene in the late 1970′s. The Chesapeake Brewing Co in Norfolk was the first in Virginia and Legends Brewing Co in Richmond being the oldest existing microbrewery.

The recent spurt follows a trend that has been taking the whole country by storm and has been helped in no small part by the passage of a new Virginia law which allows brewery tasting rooms to sell for on-site consumption of their beer.

What sets Virginia breweries apart from others?

The bigger difference, I believe, is really brewery to brewery, regardless of what part of the country they are located.

How can someone make the most of a brewery tasting room visit?

[In general] start with beers that won’t ruin your taste buds too quickly and then work your way, brewery to brewery, up to the more extreme types.

[At a festival] pick a specific style and them sample each breweries offerings of that style for comparison. Get in the longest line you find because they will be the most trending and most likely run out soonest.

Oh yeah, and bring a designated driver

What are some beer and wine pairings you like?

St George Golden Ale has a tart citrus note that tends to cut thru any spicy greasy food, think wings or pizza

St George Porter with it’s rich chocolate and coffee notes goes with any type of chocolate.

How will you be celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month?

Personally I’m celebrating by having a different Virginia beer every day. The brewery has several events on tap.

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Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at



Beer | 1 Comment

Virginia: Bon Appétit Appalachia!

by Casey | Posted on August 5th, 2014

Virginia’s Appalachia is ripe for the tasting, and Bon Appétit 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 Appétit 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




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!

Beer, Food, Food and Wine, Virginia Destinations, Wine | 4 Comments

Local Brews and Local Oysters: A Match Made in Heaven

by Stefanie | Posted on August 4th, 2014

Ahhh, the oyster. It’s found its home in Virginia, quickly becoming the Capital of the East Coast. Now apply that “ahhh” to craft beer. They pair so well, don’t they? So guess what? It’s craft beer month! Get excited. Here’s some spots that are going to give you the best of both worlds.

Rappahannock Restaurant

Rappahannock Restaurant

Rappahannock Oyster Company is going to give you flavors from all over the Virginia coastline. The Rappahannock River Oysters are the most common, but have you ever heard of Stingray Oysters and Olde Salts? The oysters at these spots are going to give you three diverse flavors: sweet and buttery, sweet and crisp, and a bold, sea-side brininess. You’re going to find these babies at Rappahannock in Richmond, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, in D.C., and Merroir in Topping. And don’t forget, these restaurants are going to have some of Virginia’s best craft beer selections.

99 MAIN RESTAURANT – Newport News
The elegant 99 Main restaurant offers the sophisticated diner an exquisite dining experience with a creative French flair. Order the roasted oysters appetizer, topped with horseradish and house-made bacon. Pair it with Legend Brown Ale and you’ve got yourself a nice starter meal. Don’t be afraid to order a couple more brewskis.

Small’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar has four different oyster options from its raw bar AND three additional options for an entrée! If you’re in the area, put Small’s on the list for a great oyster experience. Try out the oyster grits and quench your thirst with three local breweries on tap.

The Shanty in Cape Charles

The Shanty in Cape Charles

SHANTY – Cape Charles
Located on the Bay in Cape Charles Town Harbor, the Shanty focuses on fresh local seafood in a fun environment. Swing by on boat, car, golf cart or foot. There’s cornhole for the kids, live entertainment on weekends and amazing sunsets over the bay. Order some raw or steamed oysters, a fried basket, or an oyster po’ boy, and wash it down with Starr Hills’ the Love or five other Virginia craft beer options.

Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar offers some of the biggest oyster selections around. Start off with Oysters Rockefeller, pick out some raw or steamed samplers or platters. And guess what? When it’s time for the main course, Big Easy features the O-Rock Burger, topped with bacon, spinach, parmesan and gouda. They have the oyster po’ boy and their house specialty: fried oysters. Take back an oyster shooter or their vast selection of craft brews. You have some serious oyster and craft options at Big Easy. So if you have an empty stomach and want to fill it up, head over to Big Easy.

HANK’S OYSTER BAR – Alexandria
Hanks’ menu changes daily, with fresh seafood selections throughout their menu. Hank’s Oyster Bar serves their oysters on the half shell, as a po’ boy sandwich and a fried oyster dinner. Hank’s Oysters are always served up fresh, so don’t forget you can get them raw or steamed! Try out the Port City Monumental IPA while you’re there.

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Berret’s Taphouse offers one of the largest selections of local microbrews in the area, including Wild Wolf and Legend. Pair them with unique raw bar selections, like spicy buffalo oysters on the half shell and daily chef’s choice items. The taphouse menu includes the po’boy sandwich and a seafood platter, which includes crab cakes and shrimp.


Try out all the delicious oyster spots and craft beer/breweries Virginia has to offer!



Beer, Family, Food, Locals, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

It’s Not Too Late! Plan Your Last Summer Escape

by Stefanie | Posted on July 24th, 2014

As the summer winds down, a short getaway at the end of the season is always a great way to wrap things up. Include some of these cool culinary spots around.

Lansdowne Resort

Lansdowne Resort

Did you know that 27 wineries, a whiskey distillery, incredible restaurants and the highest concentration of B&Bs in the State of Virginia are tucked into the edges of Skyline Drive? As you’re spending the weekend cruisin’ through 105 miles of natural scenic beauty, hop off for a break to take in a winery or two, check out one of the amazing restaurants, and don’t forget to make reservations at one of their many quaint B&Bs.

Located in Delaplane, Virginia on one of the most exciting wine trails in the Washington, D.C. area, Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a boutique winery that offers a unique experience for wine lovers. The legacy of Aspen Dale’s revolutionary-era agricultural experience drives the winery’s stewardship. Aspen Dale has endeavored to capture the best of Colonial and European wine making techniques and blendings, while the ambience of the 200 year-old barn winery and thoroughbred horse farm inspires. Aspen Dale’s passion for history, horses and wines is profound, as their dreams have been brought to life, providing the mellowness of a boutique winery experience that lingers long after the glass empties.

What a Daytrip! Hop on Route 211, one of the prettiest scenic drives in Virginia. Getting to the premier wineries of the 211 Scenic Vino Wine Trail is half the fun! The gorgeous rolling hills on the route lead to Shenandoah National Park, America’s favorite drive, Skyline Drive, and the quaint village of Little Washington … the town George laid out in 1749 (just an hour from Big Washington DC)! Along the way you’ll find five (soon to be seven) of Virginia’s best wineries, a whiskey distillery, unique boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and the approaching majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Drive up to Skyland for some blueberry ice cream pie. Hike to a waterfall. Do the ziplines. Stay and enjoy the many Inns and gourmet eateries along the way, you’ll get to taste Virginia’s best award-winning wines. Our tip: go backwards! Take the gorgeously scenic drive first to Sperryville, the quaint town named DC’s best weekend getaway by Huffington Post. Enjoy the approaching Blue Ridge vistas. Then slowly work your way home!

Taking that last trip to Virginia Beach? If you’re a beer enthusiast, the Coastal Virginia Ale Trail is definitely something to put on the to-do list. Dedicated to all things local, let Taste Tidewater take you to the best craft beer the Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area has to offer. Taste and tour up to three venues based on availability. The tours generally last about four hours and include local history and lore, as well as tips on tasting and pairing beer with food.

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Catoctin is the first family-owned distillery since before prohibition. Co-owner Scott Harris talks about the distilling process.

Built in 1773 by the Quaker Edward Thompson, Creek Crossing Farm was one of three plantations and several large tracts of land owned by him in early Colonial Loudoun County. Located in Virginia’s Hunt Country, in a secluded valley just outside of the present day village of Lincoln, there are more than 25 acres of open fields with cattle, woods with wild turkey, pheasants and deer, and a creek that waters the entire farm, feeding organic blueberry and raspberry fields. Venture over to Loudoun and take a trip on the Loudoun West Brew Bus. Make stops at historic Corcoran Brewing, Adroit Theory brewery and Catoctin Distilling, and relax as you get a taste of the Loudoun brew scene without worrying about driving.

Treat yourself to a stay at Beliveau Estate, a premium B&B and Winery. The estate’s winery has received more than 30 awards since opening in 2012, including 2013 Silver Best Winery by the readers of Blue Ridge magazine. It has a beautiful tasting room, a covered outside veranda, picnic spots, on-site hiking, and in the cooler months a warm fireplace to sip wine around. Enjoy a weekend of true ambiance enjoying all the amenities the estate has to offer.

WINE LOVERS PACKAGE – Arcady Vineyards Bed & Breakfast and Wine Tours
Enjoy two nights at the only Charlottesville Wine Country B&B with a working vineyard! The luxury accommodations offer a whirlpool tub for two, wine fridge with sparkling wine, heated tiled bath floor, free Wifi, Bose CD/radio, TV/VCR and port, and local chocolate turn down. Package includes a full farm fresh breakfast each morning, bottle of sparkling wine chilled in your suite, and a wine and cheese social at check in. You will enjoy a personalized, all-inclusive wine tour with the oldest owner-operated tour company in Charlottesville. Visit four wineries with a deluxe local cheese/fruit/local chocolate platter, and bottled water. The wine tour also provides transportation to downtown Charlottesville for dining.

Smithfield is world famous for Smithfield Ham, but that is only half the story. Additionally, Smithfield is a quaint coastal town with access to some of the freshest seafood on the Eastern Seaboard. This package focuses on the two hallmarks of dining in Smithfield, ham and fresh local seafood and includes: one-night stay in their Deluxe Lodge Rooms, Boardwalk Rooms or Cottages, or the Lighthouse; dinner for two in the award-winning restaurant. Dinner includes soup, appetizer to share, entrée, dessert, coffee or tea, and a bottle of house wine. Get your getaway started right with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries in your room upon arrival. And don’t forget to stop by Virginia’s largest winery, the Williamsburg Winery!

Staunton is now home to two Craft breweries, RedBeard Brewing and Shenandoah Valley Brewing. With intimate taprooms and a fine selection of beers all produced on property, come on down and sample some of the Valley’s finest. All within a short walk of our front door, no driving needed! Your package includes: Overnight accommodations, breakfast for two and parking, 6 beer flights (4 oz. pours) from Redbeard, 2 pints from Shenandoah Valley Brewing, a free tasting at Hops retail store, and a $15.00 Gift Certificate to Shenandoah Pizza (and their huge beer list!)

FOODE EXCLUSIVE CULINARY EXPERIENCE – Various Fredericksburg Locations
Experience a delectable 5 course meal especially prepared for you with locally sourced fresh ingredients. Meet your chef and learn the inspiration behind your dishes during your culinary delight! This package includes: One night at a Fredericksburg-area hotel (price varies by lodging tier selection) and especially prepared 5-course meal for two.

This is a comprehensive wine and culinary adventure in the heart of DC Wine Country as this Virginia wine country tour takes two adults from vineyard and back to the Virginia winery resort. You will be whisked away by a private car for a five-hour winery tour to experience as many wine tours and tastings as your heart desires. Choose from our partner wineries: Breaux Vineyards, Corcoran Vineyards, Doukénie Winery and Sunset Hills Vineyard. Package Includes: luxurious overnight accommodations (double occupancy), private car for a total of 5 hours, $100 Dining Credit, and breakfast buffet for two adults.

Getaway and learn something new together! Learn the basic art of making cheese from scratch. Basic cheese instructions concentrate on “farmers” cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. Easy to make when you get back home. In the individualized 1-day, 2-night getaway, you will learn how to make simple basic cheese from scratch. The day will be spent learning and making a couple basic cheeses, with each person bringing home with them what they prepared. When not cheesemaking, enjoy strolling around the farm, sitting on the deck’s in lounge chairs and rockers, or watching the farm animals. So grab your friends or family and come down to the farm for some fun-filled time away! Package includes cheesemaking, 2-night stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all cooking supplies.

SHENANDOAH WINE TRAIL – By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast
Get a true taste of Shenandoah with this valley getaway package including: Two nights in one of three luxurious cottages, a romantic dinner for two at BEYOND ($60 Value), complimentary red or white Virginia wine upon arrival,  a light version of their gourmet picnic to carry to the Valley Wineries of your choice (includes gourmet cheeses, French bread, fresh fruits & dessert), hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door each morning or served in the Common to Main House guests. Wineries nearby include: Cave Ridge Vineyard (10% Discount on cases), Wolf Gap Vineyard & Winery, Shenandoah Vineyards (10% discount on cases), North Mountain Vineyard & Winery, and BlueStone Vineyards.

The Boar's Head Inn

The Boar’s Head Inn

Experience Love by the Glass with the Boar’s Head Virginia Wine Package, which combines Four Diamond accommodations and dining with impeccable Virginia wines. Virginia’s quintessential escape, Boar’s Head, offers a warm, intimate ambiance, exceptional service and unparalleled Southern hospitality. Package includes: two night’s accommodations, a welcome gift of one bottle of Virginia wine with an artisan fruit and cheese platter, daily breakfast in the Old Mill Room, a self-guided tour to a local winery (including house credit for two tasting passes), a special three-course Virginia wine dinner for two in the Old Mill Room.

WINE OR BEER LOVERS TOUR – Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast
Spend two relaxing nights, Tuesday thru Saturday, in any of the tranquil rooms and enjoy a welcoming wine or beer basket stocked with goodies. Then be treated to the vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains while being chauffeured to three of Virginia’s finest wineries and/or micro-breweries only minutes from the Belle Hearth. All of this libation, plus a three-course gourmet breakfast each morning.

Celebrate your love and passions in life with our exclusive package in honor of the Virginia is for Lovers award-winning slogan.  Complete your experience with our Virginia is for Beer & Barbecue Lovers’ Basket including 2 bottles of Green Flash beer, an Oceanfront Inn bottle opener, two Oceanfront Inn pint glasses, and a gift certificate to locals’ favorite, Beach Bully Barbeque.

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Virginia’s Craft Beer Pairs Nicely with Summer’s Bounty

by Casey | Posted on July 7th, 2014

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the staples of summer in Virginia, as are signature, summer-only, craft beer. Why not pair the best of summer’s bounties?

Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountain Brewery

With the idea of great summer flavors colliding, we reached out to Virginia’s craft brewers to see what’s on tap this season and with which local foods they’d most likely pair their best brews. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling along for a tasty summer weekend. Visit and enjoy!

A Match Made in Virginia

The best of what’s around!

  • Rick of Rusty Beaver in Ruther has his summer dishes coming straight from his Beaverdam garden. While that’s cool enough, it’s what he does with those veggies that takes it all over the top. He’s deep frying them in a Rusty Beaver ”Top Down Summer Ale” batter. Expect to find “zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, okra and fried pickles, based on availability … Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.”
Rusty Beaver "Top Down Summer Ale"

Rusty Beaver “Top Down Summer Ale”

Something New Every Week

Menus – both for food and for beer – change weekly at a majority of Virginia’s craft breweries. There’s your encouragement for a return visit! *wink*

  • Blue Mountain in Afton has a new weekly offering called Friday Night Bites. According to Jessica, the evening offers “$5 small plates that are seasonal and created to pair well with our 8-10 beers on tap. We don’t actually pre-select pairings so customers can order whatever they would like to try with each dish. We typically have 5-6 items available from 5-10 pm every Friday night.” One example she offered is the Seared Beef Carpaccio, which is spiced seared beef, roasted garlic aioli, frisée, aged Parmesan and olive oil.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Understandably, not all breweries seek to venture into the restaurant business. However, they will round up some food trucks to keep their patrons fed and steady on their feet.

  • Adventure Brewing in Fredericksburg has a regular group of food trucks that serve high quality food. According to Tim, “our ‘Stiletto Stout’ pairs very well with barbecued meats. With a roasted flavor that releases quickly after it leaves the tongue, it allows easy transitions between bites and drinks. Our ‘Super Power Pale Ale’ works well with Steve-O’s burgers and dogs, Martina’s Cantina’s tacos and Beach Fries’ crab cake sandwich. In another great pairing, the unique mix of ingredients that Smooth (Smooth’s Smoke House) uses on his pulled pork and chicken combine well with the light fruity hop flavorings in our ‘Expedition IPA.’”
  • Steve, a representative of Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers in Roanoke said you can find two exceptional summer beers on tap: “‘Tinker Creek’ is light in body with medium hop notes and a dry finish. This beer pairs well with Primo Pizza’s wood fired veggie mama pizza and their meatball sub. ‘White Top’  is a Belgian White Ale. This light bodied wheat beer spiced with coriander, chamomile and orange peel is very refreshing. ‘White Top’ pairs well with Blues Bar BQ’s BBQ and Smoked Sausage.”
  • Old Bust Head is a brand new brewery in Vint Hill, and their taproom and beer garden is scheduled to open later this summer. Jaimis gave me a few suggestions for enjoying their brews with some of the food trucks that come out. “Crowd favorites include Becky Jordan of Chef Beckles Foods, who recently created a special Santa Maria BBQ menu featuring OBH’s ‘Chinquapin Chestnut Porter’ in a wild mushroom BBQ sauce.”
  • Josh of Starr Hill in Charlottesville touted their new summer beer, ‘Soul Shine,’ described as “a Belgian-style Pale Ale with an American twist,” stating, “We love to drink ‘Soul Shine’ with oysters and grilled fish, but our favorite dish to pair is the Baja Fish Taco plate from Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen, a local food truck. The thick white meat of the beer-battered cod and spicy chipotle slaw combine deliciously with the Belgian yeast and citrus flavor and aroma that ‘Soul Shine’ delivers.”
  • Center of the Universe in Ashland also offers a brand new summer Belgian Ale called “RVAle.” Chris told me “RVAle” “pairs perfectly with the fare being served by Intergalactic Tacos on Friday nights at the brewery. The beauty with a taco truck is that you can create anything to match well with new beer releases and styles.”
  • Jeremy of Sunken City in Hardy raves of Bruno’s Gastrotruck, “My favorite combination lately is the Naan Fish Taco paired with our summer seasonal, ‘Surfside Wheat,’ a traditional German hefeweizen.”
Devil's Backbone Brewing Company

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

Nothin’ Pale About Pale Ale

Light beers are most common during the summer, with many breweries offering a signature pale ale. These brews pair nicely with flavor-filled smoky or spicy dishes.

  • “Head First” - A strong malt backbone supports the piney, citrusy notes brought on by multiple additions of Cascade and Citra hops. A great beer to pair with weekend burgers or taco night! 6.5% ABV. Midnight, Rockville
  • “There Can Be Only One” – an American pale ale made with black patent malt. 6.3+ ABV. Bad Wolf, Manassas
  • “Gray Ghost American Pale Ale” – crisp, refreshing, summertime beer goes down smooth with a soft, rounded out blend of Crystal, Simcoe, Citra and Cascade hops backed with a slight caramel sweetness. 5.1% ABV. Three Notch’d, Charlottesville
  • “Bust Head English Pale Ale” – Additions of Goldings, Fuggle, and Cascade hops provide the aroma of floral hop tones, as well as imparting a refreshing, clean bitterness. 5.6% ABV. Old Bust Head, Vint Hill
  • “Striped Bass Pale Ale” – This refreshing pale ale was created to be consumed while enjoying the bounty of the Bay and protecting local waters. Gold in color wih a light body & pleasant hop bouquet of traditional noble German hops blended with the intense citrus of American hop varieties. 4.8% ABV. Devils Backbone, Roseland
Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

Brewing: Keep it Local

Locally sourced ingredients are common with Virginia’s craft brewers, with some even offering spent hops to local farmers to use as livestock feed. It’s a reverse “eat local” mentality, if you will.

  • Dan of Back Bay Brewing in Virginia Beach wrote, I have a beer coming out in a few weeks called “Honey Blue Blue.” It’s a blueberry honey golden ale. The clover honey was sourced from northern Virginia and the blueberries will be locally sourced. At 4.8% its definitely a light refreshing fruit beer.”
  • Hardywood‘s Hardywood Virginia Blackberry is available only in summer, with its next release scheduled for July 12 at 2 p.m. It’s made with local Virginia blackberries, of course!
  • Adam, brewmaster and owner of The Damascus Brewery in Damascus will soon have something brand new for you to try, and even recommends what foods it would would pair well with. “We are getting ready to brew a ‘Fresh Hopped’ beer next week with hops grown by us and by a local hop farmer from Meadowview, VA called Kelley Ridge Farms.  This type of beer uses fresh hops less that 24 hours off the vine.  Because these hops have not had a chance to dry out, they contain several delicate essential oils and aromatics that would normally be lost.  This fresh hopped beer will only be available for a limited time and will fall into the IPA category.  The best pairing with this beer should be things like red meat, red sauce pastas, and Thai food or foods that have lots of curry or cumin.”
  • “Native Son Virginia Ale” can be found at Lost Rhino in Ashburn. It was created using only Virginia ingredients, from the water to the Copperfox Distillery malt and local Ashburn yeast.

Pairings to Try at Home

Several of our brewers offered which of their beers might translate well with your dishes at home. Stop by the brewery and take home a growler!

  • Adam at The Damascus Brewery had two suggestions for you to try. “‘Funberry Raspberry Lager is a lighter style of beer that is good for pairing with meals that have vinaigrette dressings or balsamic reductions. ‘Sweet Beaver Apricot Hefeweizen’ — while not actually sweet, the apricot finish to this beer really says summertime and is a great way to refresh yourself after a long hot day.  This beer goes really well with seafood and we personally love this with a Low Country Boil!”
  • Sean of Lickinghole Creek in Goochland offered, “We have Pony Pasture Pilsner available for the summer. It is a classic Bohemian Pilsner that is fantastic for hot Virginia summer days. Goes great with Crab Cakes from Haywood Grill, which is a local Goochland restaurant.” The moral of the story? Fill your growler, order crab cakes to go, and find a place to picnic!
  • Mark at Adroit Theory in Purcellville primarily pairs their brews with cheese, but does offer meal pairing suggestions. “Scorpion 3.0,” an 8.10% ABV Black IPA, pairs will with Bourbon marinated Angus beef tenderloin sliders, for example.

Which Virginia craft brewery is your favorite for fantastic, palate-pleasing summertime flavor? Leave a comment to tell us the best pairings you’ve experienced.


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Beer, Food | 1 Comment