It arrived with some stealth, and you might not have heard the news, but August 2013 is Virginia Craft Beer Month.
Last year, there was more of a coordinated oomph to the thing, with even a proclamation from the Governor. This year, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (a government/private industry coop) seems simply to have declared it as such. Curiously, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild has posted little to its website to promote it.
Two major events bookend this year's Virginia Craft Beer Month.
The first has already occurred: Virginia Beer Live! at the Richmond Coliseum, with twenty-two participating breweries.
The second is the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, to be held on Saturday, 24 August, on the grounds of the Devils Backbone brewpub, in Roseland (Nelson County).
It's the second year for this celebration and competition of Virginia beer. And, for this, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is indeed all in.
More than 40 Virginia breweries are expected to attend and pour their beers, accompanied by music, food, and all the trappings of a fun day. Later, in the early evening, certified beer judges will vote for the best Virginia beers in various categories, as well as selecting the overall best in the state, to which will go the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The trophy itself, fashioned from kegs, is patterned after the Dominion Cup, its predecessor from the 1990s.
For more information on tickets, the schedule, and lodging (and camping) facilities, visit the festival website at: virginiacraftbrewersfest.com, or follow on Facebook. And, to find other Virginia Craft Beer Month events in your area, try these resources:
How many breweries are there in Virginia?
In addition to Anheuser-Busch InBev, in Williamsburg, and MillerCoors, in Elkton, the number varies depending on to whom you're speaking.
- The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild lists 24, but those are dues-paying members only.
- The Mid-Atlantic Brewing News lists 43.
- YFGF's list of Virginia breweries 'on' Twitter shows 46 (34 active, and 12 in planning or under construction).
- The Virginia Tourism Corporation also counts 46.
- Virginia Living lists 51.
- And, CBS News gives a count of 60+ (without a list).
Whatever the number, this is a remarkable change from 1986, when there were only two breweries in Virginia: the ABIB plant and Chesbay, Virginia's first post-Prohibition microbrewery (located in Virginia Beach, but now long-closed). As Paul Gaza of the Brewers Association noted at the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, "On the average, every American now lives within 10 miles of a brewery."
According to the Beer Institute, the beer industry in Virginia —big and small, breweries, wholesalers, and retailers— generated 52,000 jobs in 2012, and contributed $1.3 billion in taxes: business, personal and consumption. The numbers were not broken down into 'craft brewery'-only jobs and taxes. But the Brewers Association notes that, nationwide, 'craft' breweries currently employ an estimated 108,440 full-time and part-time workers, who, in 2012, produced approximately $10.2 billion worth of beer.
Since 1969, the state of Virginia's iconic slogan has been "Virginia is for lovers." In 2012, at the Great American Beer Festival —the premier competition for 'craft' breweries nationwide— Virginia breweries garnered the 5th most medals of any state's delegation. Might one say now: "Virginia is for craft beer lovers"?
- UPDATE: Devils Backbone, of Roseland, Virginia, repeats as winner of Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. Details: here.
- The (U.S.) Brewers Association defines 'craft brewery' as
- Small (annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less)
- Independent (less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a non-craft brewery)
- Traditional (A brewer who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or [emphasis mine] in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor).
- The (U.S.) Brewers Association does not produce a list of all breweries in Virginia, per se, but does publish a Google map brewery locator, at CraftBeer.com.
- The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild defines itself as: "a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth."