Because there are now over 6,300 breweries in the United States it’s easier than ever before to find good local beer. So when you head to a holiday party or family meal this year, don’t cart along the same tired old six-pack with you. Bring one of these local Virginia brews that are sure to impress this season.
Yes, a gingerbread stout does sound like a gimmicky beer, but the boys from Hardywood Park in Richmond manage to do something special with this brew every single year. The potent mix of ginger, cinnamon, clove along with Madagascar vanilla can be almost overwhelming, even before its put in a bourbon barrel that adds a distinct sweetness. If you can pick up a couple bottles, bring one this year and put one away for next year. It’s fun to see how this one ages.
Another milk stout that is holiday appropriate, the Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg puts out its Bad Santa every year to the delight of anyone who likes winter spices in their drinks. Another good reason to pick this one up: The black can with an angry Santa silhouette will make you look cool when you show up with it.
This is not the most practical beer to pick up, but if you’re near the brewery in Herndon (which is really the only reliable way to take cans to go right now) get as much as you can fit in your car and you’ll be a party hero. Aslin is always doing a variety of interesting things at the brewery and their cast of beers is constantly rotating. Their long list of juicy IPA’s is where you should focus.
Like Hardywood Park, the Veil is up in Richmond, so it’s another brewery that’s a hike from Hampton Roads. Their beers though, particularly their powerful New England style IPAs are amongst the best in all of Virginia. In terms of accessibility, there is good news: The Veil currently has plans to open a brewpub in Norfolk in 2019, so you should definitely get them on your list for next year.
Beer snobs don’t look kindly on the fact that Devil’s Backbone was acquired by Anheuser Busch-InBev in 2016, but that acquisition didn’t make the flagship Vienna Lager any less drinkable. This is a safe, easy going beer if your crowd isn’t into all the IPAs and powerful stouts out there.
If you’re avoiding the idea of winter, pick up this sour from Norfolk’s own Coelacanth. Their gose is tart, fruity, and a little salty thanks to the addition of Hawaiian sea salt. Swing by the brewery on 22nd street and get them to fill a growler for you.
This stout from Virginia Beach’s Commonweath is a rich, chocolatey nitro stout that goes down smooth despite its 8.5 percent ABV. If Hardywood or Bad Santa’s offerings are too spicy for you, you’ll be happy with the cocoa and coffee of the Marvolo.
The Virginia Beach gastropub has an outstanding, always changing tap list, but they also have a number of rare bottles and cans to take home.
Norfolk’s best beer bar, they’ll fill growlers of most of the stuff they have on tap, which also includes a number of craft ciders—a product Virginia does as well as almost anywhere in the country.
The Norfolk bottle shop has one of the widest and most diverse selections in the area as well as a dozen rotating taps with an emphasis on Virginia beers.