The state of breweries in the state of Virginia is good. As of today, there are 82 breweries in the state, contributing more than $622 million to the local economy.
And, so, we residents celebrate August as Virginia Craft Beer Month, or so said the Virginia legislature in 2012.
Virginia’s craft breweries already are an economic engine in the Commonwealth; most sell their beverages only in Virginia, thus the money raised from sales of craft beers and the revenue from tourists visiting the breweries remains largely within the local economy [...]
The members of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild also contribute to the state’s economic growth through job creation, the purchase of locally grown barley and hops, and the donation of spent brewing grains to local farms to be used as animal feed
The month-long observation has continued informally in the two years subsequent, sponsored by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, an affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. 'Craft' breweries 1, brewpubs, pubs, restaurants, and beer shops, statewide, schedule events throughout the month. (See below for details. 2)
The centerpiece of the month is the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, a festival of and by Virginia 'craft' breweries, on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewing basecamp, in Roseland, Virginia. The day-long outdoor festival includes the announcement of the results of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, a best-beer competition among Virginia breweries.
The 'craft' beer business is booming in Virginia, in no small measure because of the rapid recent growth of the number of breweries within the state itself (which, at last count, is well more than sixty). In 2012, production in Virginia grew nearly 37 percent, to more than 84,000 barrels, almost double the national growth rate. 3. Journalist Annie Tobey mentions two legal reasons for this liquid expansion:
In the past three years, local beer industry activists have worked to improve Virginia laws. The most influential step was passage of SB 604 in 2012, which allows breweries to serve tastings and sell beer for onsite consumption. That same year, the Virginia legislature proclaimed August as Virginia Craft Beer Month, making late summer a great time to visit.
In 2014, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery was a driving force behind SB 430, which removed stifling restrictions from farm brewery operations. As Virginia’s first farm brewery, LCCB is growing hops, barley, and other crops to use in its beers.
—CraftBeer.com (from the Brewers Association)
Beer Month IronyHere's a banner proclaiming the month-long celebration, spotted in an unusual location: a 7-11 convenience store, in Fairfax,, Virginia.
Ironically, the only beers displayed behind this announcement banner were not Virginia beers, and, other than the Sam Adams, were not 'craft beers.' Couldn't the beer wholesaler that placed the placard there —the local branch of the nation's largest beer distributor— have expended just a tiny bit of effort to put Virginia beer on display? Sad, but typical. 4
But to look at this in a more positive way, 'craft' beer is no longer the exclusive domain of good-beer meccas. It's now in that most quotidien of American places: convenience stores. Consider that a sign of a goal of 'craft' beer over its three-decade history: get it on main-street.
'Local' BeerThere are too many breweries and brewpubs in Virginia making good beer to not be able to celebrate Virginia Craft Beer Month by purchasing a Virginia beer over the month. Yes, there are bad Virginia beers, some very bad. If you find one, celebrate the month by telling the brewers so, not anonymously online, but to their faces with good intent. A brewer, worth his brewing salt, will appreciate the feedback and up his game.
And, when you find a good Virginia beer —not difficult— compliment the brewer: purchase it!
Beer is a fragile commodity. The further it travels, the longer it sits, the more likely what the brewer intended will not be in your glass. Drinking local is usually drinking fresh. Of course, political boundaries don't guarantee the shortest distance from source to glass. (For example, southwestern Virginia is an easy 320 miles from northern Virginia, more than the distance from northern Virginia to New York City.) But drinking 'within' a state does help promote state revenues, employment, economic growth, and, with uber-local purchases, your neighbors. That's a personal advantage.
More about Virginia Craft Beer MonthSome resources for learning more about the month 2:
- A partial listing of events statewide, via the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
- The website from the Virginia Tourism Corporation with events, and a map to breweries statewide.
- The primary event of Virginia Craft Beer Month is the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest: only Virginia breweries pouring their beers, and the results of the Virginia Beer Cup competition. It's to be 23 August, on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewpub, in Roseland, Virginia.
- The inaugural screening of “From Grain to Growler”, a forty-minute documentary about Virginia 'craft' beer, at the Capital Ale House, 9 August, in downtown Richmond.
- A story about Richmond, Virginia's events celebrating the month, from journalist Annie Tobey. A good starting point: Richmond is the state capital, and the recent growth of breweries there is emblematic of statewide growth.
- The Virginia Beer Trail has a list of Virginia beer bloggers.
- Facebook group Fans of Virginia Craft Beer.
- At present, fifty breweries in Virginia post to Twitter.
- Photos of Virginia Breweries at a Flickr group.
- 1 What is a 'craft' brewery? Here's how the Brewers Association defines it.
- 3 The figures on Virginia craft beer growth were taken from an Associated Press story, in 2012. The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, founded in 2010, should consider providing such information. Also, a more concerted effort to promote the Craft Beer Month: maybe as simply as crafting a logo and offering a press release and promotional packet to its brewery members and the press. The Guild's founding Director, i 2010, was Mike Killelea, brewer for Center of the Universe Brewing, in Ashland, Virginia. The Guild's current Director is Mark Thompson, owner of Starr Hill Brewery, in Crozet, Virginia.
- 4 Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I compete with that 'large' distributor.