The 10 Craft Breweries You Have to Drink at in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach may be known for lots and lots of seafood (and especially oysters), but we’re here to tell you that no trip to the city would be complete without checking out its beer scene. Coastal Virginia is booming with craft breweries (the state ranks 13th in the US for breweries per capita), and there are more set to open in 2018.
Most of that growth has happened in the last five years, after Virginia made it legal for taprooms to sell beer by the glass without needing a full-service restaurant. With nine breweries in Virginia Beach alone, there’s plenty of uncharted beer territory to explore (and brag to your beer-snob friends about). Plus, most of these craft brewers are paying homage to their local roots in some way, so grab your growlers and prepare to get a true taste of the town.
The Brewery: Reaver Beach takes an offbeat approach to its tap room, too, where in addition to the wild ales, you’ll find an extensive menu of sour beers fermented with fruits like raspberry and apricot, as well as more traditional styles with oceanic names (like their Hoptopus or Hammerhead IPAs). Every month, Justin hosts a “Beer Nerd Forum” for those who want to dive deep into the brewing process. There are also regular release parties for the newest test beers, for when your palate is feeling adventurous.
The Beer You Need To Try: There are 20 rotating beers on tap, but you’ll always find The Reaver sour ale available. It’s their flagship, year-round brew, with a taste that’s tart and funky.
The Brewery: The tasting room, located in the ViBe Creative District, is actually closer to the oceanfront than the Back Bay area, but the space retains roots to its namesake: the building is a converted former fish house and the tin walls come from a Back Bay farmhouse. You can usually find live music at the brewery on Saturday nights, too -- and if you’re feeling inspired, they host beer-brewing classes throughout the year.
The Beer You Need To Try: For a taste of history, try their Witch of Pungo Pumpkin Ale, named for the legendary “Witch of Pungo” Grace Sherwood. The last person in Virginia to be convicted of witchcraft, Sherwood was accused by neighbors of ruining crops and shapeshifting into a cat, earning her a “trial by water” and seven years in jail. Her name was cleared 300 years later, and now lives on via this tribute beer, which has a touch of sweet potato to round out its autumnal flavors.
The Brewery: Located just a 12-minute drive from the oceanfront, the taproom at Young Veterans is as much about the military as it is about beer. Every brew’s label is designed to look like a World War II propaganda poster -- with a name to match -- and similar artwork lines the taproom. They pour seven flagship brews, plus special releases seasonally, all of which have military-inspired names (G.I. Pilsner, New Recruit Honey Blonde Ale). YVBC also hosts fundraisers for vets, as well as bi-monthly trivia nights on site. Plus, there are plans to open a second location, a brew pub near the oceanfront, this spring, where they’ll have more entertainment options, like live music and bar games.
The Beer You Need To Try: Pineapple Grenade Hefeweizen is a flagship brew, and a quirky take on the traditional German style, with tropical notes such as banana.
The Brewery: Besides offering German brews without the transatlantic flight, the brewery is known for having some of the best pub eats in town -- especially its unique pizzas, which are all named after dogs. (Their signature Wasserhund pie is topped with sauerkraut and bratwurst.) Besides food, you’ll find regular gaming events (like trivia and bingo) as well as some oddball annuals such as an adults-only prom with a steampunk theme that would put your high school dance to shame.
The Beer You Need To Try: After dinner, skip dessert and try the Haagen Dog Ice Cream Stout -- made to taste like vanilla and chocolate ice cream in a glass, and one of their specialties.
The Brewery: If you’re looking for a classic beach pub, Home Republic is the place. Besides the convenient locale, there’s a full-service restaurant and wine shop in addition to the brewery -- plus plenty of other local craft beers on tap. There’s Trivia Tuesday every week, and a weekday happy hour that offers unique drink specials and inexpensive eats (think cheese and sausage plates and the “extra smokey beer burger” with gouda and guacamole).
The Beer You Need To Try: King Kolsch is their award-winning speciality and a classic Kolsch-style beer, while their Salted Caramel Ale, a brown ale with caramel notes and a touch of sea salt, is perfect for chilly winter nights at the beach.
The Brewery: Today, Pleasure House Brewing is a bit more hospitable, and is actually designed to be as comfortable as your living room -- we’re talking hook-up-to-free-wifi, get-Chinese food-delivered comfy. (Seriously. The brewery’s website even recommends a few nearby restaurants that deliver.) In addition to daily tasting room hours, there are weekly events (Wednesday night trivia, anyone?) on the schedule.
The Beer You Need To Try: While the brewery’s 11 taps are always rotating, their Glo Belgian Blond and OB’s Wattleseed Stout are award-winners and on draft at all times.
The Brewery: The old fire station was known as a community gathering spot, so Commonwealth built their taproom around the same concept. It’s designed to feel like a European beer hall, so those American bar standards (free wifi, walls of big-screen TVs) are scratched in favor of long communal tables, outdoor seating, food trucks, and cornhole. In addition to 28 taps in the main tasting room, the brewery also hosts everything from a book club to yoga classes in their space.
The Beer You Need To Try: Don’t be overwhelmed by the gigantic beer list (but do be sure to appreciate each can’s label -- they’re practically art). To avoid paralysis of choice, try the Sophrosyne Aged Saison: It’s brewed with American malt, wheat, and spelt; aged for six months; and blended with a bit of their house Solera to make it slightly tart. The best part? The Sophrosyne’s creation was a happy accident -- it’s fermented with an airborne wild yeast strain that was unintentionally captured at the brewery.
The Brewery: Green Flash is known for its hoppy IPAs but there are more than 30 different beers on tap, if those aren’t your thing. Besides the extensive selection, head here to check out their one-acre beer garden, murals by local artists on the walls, and regularly-stationed food trucks. Tours of the brewery are held daily, too, if you want to get an inside look at the process.
The Beer You Need To Try: Beyond their flagship beers, like the popular West Coast IPA, Green Flash brews some quirky seasonal options, too. Their Cellar3 varieties are barrel-aged; for something a little different, try their Sepia Frumento -- a barleywine variety. The Sea to Sea Lager is also notable as the beer they brewed in tribute to their trek from West Coast to East.
The Brewery: While the Norfolk location remains Smartmouth’s main production facility, Pilot House acts as a tasting room and smaller, experimental brewery. Food trucks are usually nearby when the tasting room is open, and their event calendar is set to be filled with everything from trivia nights to local music spotlights. And while experimental brews are what’s made here, Smartmouth’s core beers are always on tap.
The Beer You Need To Try: Alter Ego, their flagship brew, is a farmhouse style Belgian saison named in honor of Hardy’s “alter ego” -- in that he left his day job as a lawyer to make beer full time.
The Brewery: Deadline is a nanobrewery, which means it’s especially tiny. While there are only five beers on tap, its location, a few blocks from the beach on a hiking trail that runs through First Landing State Park, makes it worth a stop. Events are also beginning to fill their calendar, like a monthly trivia night.
The Beer You Need To Try: Being so modestly sized affords Deadline the option to make small-batch brews in unique flavors; their newest is a Persimmon Wheat. Or, if you’re feeling festive, the Maple Cranberry Stout is prime drinking for winter. Better book that brewery crawl, stat.