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

 

Brew Adventures & Inspirations

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Almost seven years ago we started our homebrewing adventure. I surprised Tom with a Mr. Beer homebrewing kit and in our tiny blue kitchen he crafted his first brew. The first beer recipe came with the kit and, while it was easy to drink, it was fairly un-remarkable. Regardless, he was surprised by how simple the process was and was hooked. Not to mention, this was a hobby I could totally get on board with!

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As we began exploring this new world of beer, we discovered more and more craft beers. If you didn’t already know, craft beer is made at smaller breweries and not mass produced on large scales like those from corporate breweries. Often times their smaller scale lends to more inventive and complex beers, as well as better quality ingredients. In the interest of learning more, we started seeking out new craft brews and Tom started absorbing knowledge.

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While it took me a little longer to develop my palate, I loved every brew tasting and brewery tour along the way. It was on those adventures that I discovered my passion for photographing beer. I found myself inspired by the rainbow of natural colors that comes with a flight of tasting glasses arranged on a wood board. Much to my Tom’s chagrin, I found myself asking him to wait to taste until I had the perfect photo. Last summer I was humbled when the Virginia Tourism company contacted me to purchase one of my images and feature it in their #VAcraftbeer photo competition.

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Many brews and several years later, Tom is now brewing here in Israel in our bomb shelter. Yes, you read that right, we have our very own bomb shelter equipped with it’s own A/C unit making it the perfect place for fermenting. Using equipment he’s gathered via online purchases and at the occasional stop at a homebrew store, he has been exploring a myriad of beer styles. Among the recipes he has tried are: a Belgian wit ale, an Irish-inspired red ale with roasted chestnuts, a pumpkin ale, Belgian ale with honey and sage, and a barleywine – aptly named the “Bomb Shelter Barleywine” since it was fermenting (and then aging) down there for months.

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We’ve also had a blast exploring the nascent Israeli craft brew scene. A few of our favorites include: Alexander Brewery (4), Busters Beverage Co. (5)Dancing Camel Brewery (6), Galil Brewery (1), Jems Beer Factory(3), Libira Brewery (2), and Shapiro Beer (7).

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There is also this fantastic place called the Beer Bazaar, with several locations around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, they focus on distributing local brews, including their own, and have pubs with selections on tap. Not only are the beers delicious, but the people behind them are fun to hang out with!

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A about a month ago, another brave homebrewer gathered a few other homebrewers together to create an American expat “brewmaster” event.  With the help of our friend, Shayne (below top left), they invited the guys behind the Beer Bazaar, Shapiro, and Busters Beverage Co. to spend the day with us at this beer tasting event and homebrew “competition”. The professional brewer took the time to taste and rate each of the homebrews. After their thoughtful deliberation, they shared their thoughts with the novices. Tom was awarded best aged beer for the Bomb Shelter Barleywine and he was humbled by the response and feedback he received from crowd, especially the pros. Like most of us creatives, he is often his harshest critic, so it was great to see how positive the reactions were to his craft.

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We don’t know where this homebrewing journey will take us one day when Tom retires, but I love the idea of opening a family brewery back in Virginia. Until then we will continue to learn and drink better beer. On that note, the next time we head home to Virginia for a little rest and relaxation, we will be touring a few breweries, new and old favorites. I will, of course, be documenting our brew tour and exploring the colors of the beer world, from the golden wheat to the ruby red ales to the dark brown stouts. Stay tuned here and follow along on Instagram and at my hashtag #dgbrewphotos.

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Share your favorite brewery and/or brew with us in the comments below, maybe you can introduce us to a new one!

Cheers,

kdg