10 Virginia beers to try before VA Craft Beer Month ends

by | Aug 24, 2016 | EAT DRINK

Virginia Craft Beer Month may be on its way out, but we’ve still got some local recommendations for you to try. A few of our local favorites were mentioned on our list of 10 Richmond beers to try for Virginia Craft Beer Month, which if you missed that you find it here. Many of them won awards at the recent Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, you can also find our story on that here.

Virginia Craft Beer Month may be on its way out, but we’ve still got some local recommendations for you to try. A few of our local favorites were mentioned on our list of 10 Richmond beers to try for Virginia Craft Beer Month, which if you missed that you find it here. Many of them won awards at the recent Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, you can also find our story on that here.

Anyway, let’s get down to what this list is all about. This week we wanted to focus on some Virginia breweries and awesome beers that are not directly in RVA. With so many breweries in the state and new ones popping up all the time, it’s hard to find just 10 beers to pick out. But hey, we do our best and have come up with this list of some favorites to try as we creep out of summer.

O’Connor Brewing Co., Norfolk – El Guapo IPA

For O’Connor this is one I find myself coming back to and is a staple IPA in Virginia. It’s very drinkable and refreshing, with a very light agave within it. It ranks in about 70 IBU so it has a nice grapefruit bite that is smooth and easy to down quickly. It has a nice malt background as well with a copper look to the beer. This is great with any spicy food, and I LOVE spicy food.

Starr Hill, Crozet – Last Leaf, Maple Brown Ale

Classic Brown here, nice toasty tasting with some maple thrown in for good measure. This is a good beer for the changing of seasons, for cooler nights while getting your final grilling done as we head into September. Lightly hopped with some Kent Goldings its balanced and smooth – and an easy drink that you can enjoy anytime.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company, Charlottesville – Bourbon Barrel Biggie S’Mores

I hope you can find this one, it’s a beast! Love what the people at Three Notch’d Brewing are doing here. This is a big beer with tons of flavor, hints on chocolate and bourbon with malty caramel and hints of smoke. The head has a nice brown tint (that usually means its serious) that smells of booze and sweet vanilla. You really do get a little of a Graham Cracker chocolate feel with this one. It’s a home run, go find it if you can.

Smartmouth, Norfolk – Notch 9

The Notch 9 is a big DIPA – this is on the level of any Double and was one of the IPAs I have been most impressed with out of a can. It stands up to Sculpin – and that’s saying a lot for me. It has a big kick at 9.5% so watch yourself with it. But if you’re like me, then you really enjoy having something that big that is still bitter and balanced. It’s orange bronze in color and has a real citrus explosion when opened with heavy rind.

AleWerks Brewing Company, Williamsburg – Secret Admirer

This brewery has been kicking out some great beers in Williamsburg for quite some time. This is a popular one for sure, many people have mentioned it to me at some point. We have a double that is around 8%, it’s a real smooth customer with medium body and crisp fruitiness to it. Its unfiltered so expect some floaties with it, and a real resiny kinda creaminess in the finish.

Apocalypse Ale Works, Forest – Lustful Maiden

I have a crush on this brewery. It’s true I love the beers and I love the very metal design of their logo and beers. I wish they had a brewery in RVA – that would be grand. But alas, I must continue the search for the Lustful Maiden here in town. An evil black fairy once told me that they would be putting it in bottles soon. This is a Dubbel Belgian that really has a deep dark fruit, raisins with almost a wine like character. A true Belgian, you get the yeast up front and the smooth caramel fruity finish. This is an exceptional USA brewed Belgian beer, it has won a number of medals – try it and see why.

Sunken City Brewing Company, Hardy – Red Clay IPA

So here we have a red IPA with a malty German background. You can find this one in cans most everywhere you go. This is not a West Coast style – so first you have to know what you’re getting. It’s a good transitional IPA for people who like the malt but want some bite as well. I think it’s a good Red IPA that is easy to drink overall. It has a little of a dark nutty grain flavor that’s nice with the semi-bitter hops.

James River Brewery, Scottsville – River Runner ESB

Love the name of this one, it’s a bitter English beer. So what you get here is classic British hops (Fuggles) along with classic British malts. It’s a true classic beer that harkens back to England and beers like Fullers. I will be honest with you, it’s not my usual kinda beer I’m looking for these days. But I do enjoy a finely crafted ale, and this is it. It’s not easy to make a balanced yet complex classic bitter – so props to them for making this classic. This recently won best in show at the Craft Brew Guild awards – congrats to them!

Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton – Dark Hollow

You know it by now right? It’s a great bottle for a dinner. Many times I have enjoyed Dark Hollow with friends together at my table. I just have to mention it here as we talk about beers we enjoy as we get into fall. This one has what I want in a lot of ways – bourbon, wood, dark malt, vanilla hints and a smooth finish. I feel like I get a bit of bourbon char in this – and I LOVE that flavor. On draft it’s even better, and if you ever come across the Lavender variant you must get it. I know that sounds kinda odd to some – but it works so well. This is my liquid chocolate bourbon bliss I can pretty much get anytime.

Brothers Craft Brewing
, Harrisonburg – Eight Bells

Brothers makes really fine beers. I met them a few years back and was really impressed with everything they put out. Here we have a very unusual and interesting beer called Eight Bells. It’s a fruit beer – but hold up because it’s a very unique and quite refreshing take on fruit beer. Blueberry and maple syrup with some spice make up the backbone of this beer. It’s a little tart – but not really a sour. This is just so complex – with a peppery spice finish. What? This is a truly a unique creation by some really creative brewers. I’m a little baffled by it. See if you can find it in bottles or take a trip. I need more of this to study (yeah study).

Amy David

Amy David

Amy David was the Web Editor for RVAMag.com from May 2015 until September 2018. She covered craft beer, food, music, art and more. She's been a journalist since 2010 and attended Radford University. She enjoys dogs, beer, tacos, and Bob's Burgers references.

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