If you could not guess, I am from Virginia, and yes, I will shamelessly promote my home’s variety of benefits.
Here in VA we possess: beautiful mountain ranges, rolling hills, sandy beaches, picturesque vineyards, proximity to our nation’s capital, a strong “home-grown” presence, bustling cities, quaint little towns, historic ancestry, a mostly balanced political dispersion, and a lovely climate that yields ACTUAL seasons (apologies to those from northern and southern reaches…I love you, as well). However, nestled cleverly between everything listed above, is perhaps one of Virginia’s most captivating and, indeed, underrated gems….
Yes, you guessed it, I’m talking about craft beer.
Standing in the shadow of behemoths like California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, Virginia has had relatively little exposure to the craft beer world. By volume of breweries Virginia isn’t the smallest kid on the block, nor is it the weakest in terms of its offerings. In short; tall, gangly, pre-pubescent Virginia wouldn’t be the last one picked for brewery dodge-ball, but would undoubtedly be passed up in the earliest rounds for sleek and exotic California, burly and strapping Colorado, or seasoned and resilient Massachusetts.
Despite being outmatched in the craft beer world, Virginia along many other small states, have seen remarkable growth in the past three years due to the boom of craft beer. Indeed, America’s sudden desire to actually taste what they are drinking has been a critical factor in expanding craft beer culture here in the U.S. In fact, in the past 3ish years there have been three breweries and one cidery opened within a mere 20 miles of my humble apartment. Not bad, right?
But here’s the best part: they’re actually making good beer.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes you’re right; I am biased about my state. However, when it comes to my beer, a shrewder critic would be hard to find. In other words, I am unbiased and possess no predilections of state or brewery. I don’t give a damn where the beer in my hand comes from, so long as it’s enjoyable and has been deposited into the proper glassware.
That being said, Virginia breweries have managed to deliver to my palette time and time again. Beyond this, I can even recall a plethora of beers that have been world class, capable of trading blows (or hugs if you’re a pacifist) with the premier brews of the time. Yes, Im calling you out KBS, Black Note, Bourbon County, Dark Lord, Hunnahpu, Heady, Pliny, and Parabola. Fret not, full reviews of these warlocks will be forthcoming in later articles, but for the time being take my word for it.
Like gardens of grain and indulgence, Virginia has sprouted four distinct geographic areas where craft beer has flourished due to a permutation of population density and a few strong breweries: Northern Virginia led by DC Brau, Richmond championed by Hardywood Park, Tidewater spearheaded by Alewerks, and Appalachia pioneered by Devils Backbone. Beyond breweries, these areas have seen explosive growth in craft beer culture via festivals, bottle shops, bars, beer conscious restaurants, and alterations to local alcohol legislature. Virginia has stepped up its game, and I mean to present the evidence for you ponder over.
So what does all of this mean? Well, if you love craft beer and the warm fuzzy feeling you get from trying a great new brew, (which I assume you do, else you wouldn’t be reading this) then it means a great deal. It means that in the times to come you can look forward to profound insights, gripping reviews, scintillating commentary, and some crisp perspectives on stale beer…topics.
In honor of Arlo and his team, as they set forth on this drunken opening of Pandora’s Box, I propose a toast. Cheers, mates! I look forward to sharing and learning as we tread somewhat crookedly down this path of liquid enlightenment.
Stay Crafty, my friends!
Adam Fisher, Richmond, Virginia
*Photo Credit: Richmond.com