Virginia is for Craft Beer Lovers

In honor of Virginia Craft Beer Month, I thought it would be fitting to share some of the amazing craft breweries we have visited. We have yet to make it to every region of Virginia, but we will one of these days! This is a booming industry with lots of talented brewers and a culture all it’s own. At the heart of It’s a Colo{u}rful world and DGRCP is community over competition and that this what I love most about the craft brew culture. There are so many fantastic stories of established breweries helping up-and-coming brewers. There is even a tradition of handing out stickers and having a spot for other breweries’ stickers, fostering a feeling of togetherness. That is the type of stuff I can get on board with and support! Here’s to all the amazing craft breweries in Virginia making some amazing beers to be enjoyed and experienced with family (kids and dogs welcome) and friends! Don’t forget to tag #ToastVA #VAcraftbeer #LoveVA when you visit.

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Northern Virginia (aka NoVA) – 

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Brew Republic Bierwerks – It was a real treat to meet head brewer and one of the owners of Brew Republic, Darcy. She is passionate about the process and shared her experience of moving from a homebrewer to a real brewery (and taptoom) as she prepared to open her own – see community! We really enjoyed tasters of their patriot ic beers paired with sliders and pretzels, yum! For a non-acoholic beverage they offer their own root beer on tap. Standout brew: Patriot 212 Helles Lager | 5.0% ABV |18.0 IBU Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag | #ToTheRepublic #ANationOfBeer 

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Capitol City Brewing Company – The first brew pub in DC post-prohibition has deep roots in the DC Metro area and is located in both the Capital and Shirlington, VA. It has also been a long standing favorite for our family. Plus, complimentary pretzels – need I say more? Standout brew: Award winning Amber Waves American-style Amber Ale | 5.6% ABV | 31 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers & swag #CapCity 

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Fair Winds Brewing Company – Voted DC’s Best Local Brewery for the second year in a row. The taproom is intentionally airy and light with a stack of board games, in house snacks, and food trucks outside, all inviting you to come taste and stay awhile. The designer in me just has to say I really dig that their nautical branding is consistently carried from their logo to the names of their brews. Standout brew: Howling Gale IPA West-Coast style IPA | 7.2% ABV | 80 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

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Forge Breworks – This no-nonsense brewery is perfectly located in an industrial park, where they forge both Belgian Ales and German Lagers that pack a punch, some coming in as high as 11.5%. There is something for every adventurous beer drinker. Standout brewBrown Dwarf Star Quadruppel | 11.5% ABV | and The Empress Imperial Pilsner | 9.2% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag 

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Heritage Brewing Company – We have visited both the brewery and taproom in Manassas and their new brew pub in Arlington, and both sites perfectly house these flavorful, revolutionary-themed ales. I truly appreciate their attention to detail in the decor and food choices, as well as their beer – seriously all of their flagship brews are great. They also serve and sell Veritas Cold Brew coffee at the brew pub for those need a caffeinated pick me up. Standout brew: American Expedition Honey Ginger Wheat Ale | 4.5% ABV | 15 IBUs and  Double Taxation Imperial Indian Pale Ale | 9.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans (of both beer and coffee),  & swag #heritagebrewing

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Old Bust Head Brewing Company  The first time we visited OBH we became fans of this brewery’s mission, crafting inventive and flavorful beers while nodding to their Fauquier County roots. They are so creative, using a myriad of ingredients including a variety of fruits and vegetables, even chilis!  It is even a treat for the underage crowd with their delicious root beer floats. Standout brew: The Graffiti House West Coast-style IPA | 7.5% ABV | 75 IBUs and Watermelon Bright Prospect mixed with Margarita Gose  – a creative sour concoction! Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag #oldbustheadbrewingcompany #oldbusthead

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Port City Brewing Company – This fantastic brewery won Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2015 and is one of my personal favorites. I just love their motto “We put the ‘ale” in Alexandria!” They definitely deliver great award-wining year-round brews, as well as tasty seasonal ales, including Tidings one of my favorite Christmas beers. Standout brew: Optimal Wit Belgian-style White Ale | 4.9% | 15 IBUs and Colossal Five English-style Old Ale | 9.8% ABV | 55 IBUs  Take aways: Kegs, growlers, bottles,  & swag #PCBC

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Water’s End Brewery Aptly named because indeed at some point “water ends and the beer begins.” A laid-back and easy-going atmosphere with a separate play area for children including toys, games, and coloring books (THANK YOU!). Outside food is welcome and the Paisano’s pizzeria across the way seems to be a regular guest at the brewery and they don’t charge a delivery fee. They even have a Beer Club that we would definitely be members of if we lived close by, it truly is a neighborhood brewery! Standout brew: Hop Drop Double IPA and Damn Beer Golden Ale|5.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag #webrew


Central Virginia – 

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Wild Wolf Brewing Company – A true family brewery led by a mother-son team, Wild Wolf wowed us with their tasty brews and their “farm-fork” and sustainable story. Their site is close to the Shenandoah mountains and surrounded by beautiful landscapes making it a truly picturesque place to sit and sip awhile. Standout brewBlonde Hunny Unfiltered Belgian style Blonde Ale | 6.8% ABV | 21 IBUs Take aways: Kegs, growlers, cans,  & swag #wildwolf #wildwolfbrewingcompany


Hampton Roads (Coastal Region aka the 757) – 

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Alewerks Brewing Company – The oldest brewery in Williamsburg with a great history of creating crowd pleasing ales. They also brew exclusive beers based on historic recipes in collaboration with Colonial Williamsburg. They have a large range of brews from classic IPAs to the more extreme barrel aged ales. Standout brew: Jubilee X Belgian Strong Dark Ale | 12% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #Alewerks

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Brass Cannon Brewing Company – The atmosphere is carefree with its yellow and green paint job, shelves of board games, and chalkboard wall. Brass Cannon invites patrons to join in their challenges and draw on the wall. The beers were surprising and full of flavor. Standout brew: Angry Scot Scottish-style Wee Heavy Ale | 7.8% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag 

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Commonwealth Brewing Company – Ever since we first walked into this refurbished firehouse, this brewery has been one of our favorites. The beach vibes definitely lend to a laid back atmosphere with outdoor games, board games, and inventive Belgian inspired brews.  Being walking distance to the Bay certainly doesn’t hurt! Standout brew: Big Papi Double IPA | 8% ABV | 61 IBUs, Wapatoolie Tropical IPA | 6.4% | 90 IBUs, and Cheval Au Soleil Belgian Wit | 7.6% ABV | 17 IBU  Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & (FANTASTIC) swag 

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O’Connor Brewing Company  Just like their logo of the tree, this brewery’s roots go deep in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk brew scene collaborating, mentoring newer breweries, and hosting events. Their space is definitely conducive to hosting large events with a stage at the back and plenty of seating. They have a wide variety of ales, promising that there is something for everyone.  Standout brew: Discovery Scotch Ale | 9% ABV | 32 IBUs and Spyhop White IPA | 7% ABV | 65 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #OBCBeer

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Smartmouth Brewing Company – One of the original breweries in the area and a fan favorite among our VA Beach family.  Their cheeky, in your face brand lends to the vibe around the tasting room where you can check out their craft on tap, in a can, or through the windows. Outdoor games are a big draw and a fun way to pass the time with friends (and kids!). Standout brew: Murphy’s Law Amber Ale | 5.8% ABV | 35 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

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Virginia Beer Company – Two College of William & Mary grads opened the brewery a little over a year ago and have enjoyed impressive success in a short time frame. They have a wide range of well refined beers and are truly taking a foothold in Williamsburg. We are excited for them and look forward to our next visit. Go Tribe! Standout brew: Wrenish Rye Amber Ale | 6% ABV | 39 IBUs and try a bottle of Barrel Fermentation Saison. Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans,  & swag #VirginiaBeerCo


Check out Virginia Tourism’s list of Breweries here to discover all the other great local breweries we cannot wait to visit! Please let us know what you think when you visit these, we hope you enjoy yourself!

Cheers!

kdg

 

Home is where {a piece} of your heart is

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“I have so many feelings!” This is my exclamation when my beloved husband asks what’s up? I am a jumbled up, hot mess of feelings these days. We are heading back to Tel Aviv soon and I’m excited for this next year and the adventures awaiting us there and of course getting to see our pup – every dog makes us miss her. That said, my heart is breaking just a little, all over again.

They say “home is where your heart is.” If that is true, my heart has been left in pieces around the world in the hands of our family and treasured friends, with most of those pieces in Virginia. Oh, the bittersweet life of an expat!

I’m typing as we weave our way around the the streets of our old neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia pointing out favorite spots to the boys and my nose is tingling. It was a good life we lived here. Our boys were born here. As you can imagine, there are so many memories flooding back. We truly loved living off the beautiful George Washington Parkway, all the colonial brick buildings and streets of Old Town, and the small town feel right outside the metropolis of our Nation’s capitol. Oh the feelings!

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Although Alexandria was a literal home for us and holds our little family’s history, there are pieces of our heart scattered across the state.

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Warrenton, VA is where our love story began and where I tearfully moved for my senior year of High School from Kansas. It’s where I started Young Life and grew so much of my faith. It is a quaint little town that is simply booming! From old town and Main St. hosting shops and restaurants to the bustling businesses and amenities we didn’t have 15 years ago. Driving west on Route 66 to Warrenton may be a nightmare some days, but once we arrive it has so many good memories for us. Not to mention, it is on the way to the mountains.

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Visiting the Shenandoah Valley is like a family tradition. It is where I experienced my very first hike and camp adventure. There is a lot to appreciate up there including the glorious views, walking and hiking trails, well kept campsites, flora and fauna, local shops and restaurants, and the knowledgable rangers, staff, and volunteers – a couple of which we call family. I highly recommend Fall up there it is simply awe-inspiring to see all the warm tones!

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Fredericksburg, VA was my home for 4 years while I attended the University of Mary Washington. Those were great years full of laughs, learning, and growing up. Another growing town with new things every time we visit. The old town streets are charming with shops and restaurants, including one of our post college favorites, the Capitol Ale house. The college itself expanded in the decade since I graduated with new buildings and a pedestrian bridge across Route 1, and new amenities. Go Eagles!

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Williamsburg, VA holds a big chunk of our hearts from our college years. The College of William Mary, Colonial Williamsburg, Bush Gardens, and Water Country USA, are all attractions that keep us coming back annually. Williamsburg is a part of the Colonial Triangle, along with Jamestown and Yorktown and we definitely recommend checking them out and diving into all that history. In Colonial Williamsburg (CW) we visit the Cheese Shop for Virginia ham sandwiches with their special house dressing, stroll around the historic streets, and visit the W&M bookstore. Go Tribe!

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South of the Colonial Triangle is Virginia Beach and some of our favorite beach bums. From the Bay to the boardwalk there is a ton to do! We particularly enjoy playing on the shore and going mini golfing with our family and friends. Meeting at Chick’s Oyster Bar for a meal is also one of our family traditions. This is one stop on our usual tour we sadly didn’t get to make this year.

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A couple of years ago my parents moved to Woodbridge, VA near Occoquan and although I didn’t grow up in their new house, it is where one of the biggest chunks of my heart lives, which is why it feels like home just being there with my family. We spend our days relaxing and spending time on the Potomac River. It is glorious!

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Out near the mountains between Fredericksburg and the Charlottesville is Orange County, VA. This picturesque county is full of small towns and history. For us it is where our boys experience farm life – running in fields, feeding a horse, working in the garden, climbing trees, getting dirty, and a cookie jar filled with Grandma’s cookies.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to visit in Virginia, there are so many other towns and cities in Virginia that make the state a great place to live, explore, and adventure. There are wine and ale trails, fantastic eateries, arts and crafts, music, museums, and outdoor activities; all covered in warm hospitality with rich history. I highly recommend visiting or touring the state for lovers of all the above! For more information or help planning your trip check out the tourism site. #LoveVA

I am so thankful to call Virginia home and for all the people who loving keep the pieces of my heart here with them – I miss you all dearly!

Do you have pieces of your heart scattered around the world? How do you cope with leaving home? Travel safely everyone and cherish each moment in each place you call home.

from Virginia with love,

kdg