Hunter Smith

Hunter Smith is the founder of Champion Brewing Company, opening Fall 2012 in Downtown Charlottesville. He also works for his parents' winery, Afton Mountain Vineyards, in picturesque Nelson County. Smith holds a BS in Marketing and is a proud alumnus of the Siebel Institute and World Brewing Academy. Smith has been a performing singer/songwriter for the better part of ten years, but is enjoying focusing on his role in the food and beverage world, as well as his recent entry into fatherhood. Like his mother before him, Smith was born at Martha Jefferson Hospital and was delighted to return to the cultural hub of Charlottesville in 2009. Interests outside of beer and wine include cooking, business, punk rock, and Boston sports.

Try New Belgium’s Dig at Brixx. The Nelson Sauvin hops have a gooseberry flavor with hints of white wine grapes. Photo: Elli Williams

Beyond the bitter: Brewers explore new flavors in ‘feature hops’

Humulus lupus, the species best known to us as hops, produces effects in beer that we traditionally associate with bitterness. Hops also produce aromas and flavors that are usually associated with earthiness, grassiness, floral characteristics, and a bit of weedy dankness. In the past couple of years, a progressive sect of hop growers has been […]

Choices, choices: At Beer Run, there’s no need to heed ratings. Sample each brew on tap and then make up your mind. Photo: Christian Hommel

Trust your gut: The danger of scoring wine and beer with points

Most wine drinkers are aware of the 100-point scale, whether they are familiar with Robert Parker and his recently sold Wine Advocate, or simply with the numbers on gold medallions adorning shelves of bottles. Although these numerical shelf-talkers are helpful to a lot of customers when it comes to purchasing decisions, they are often a […]

Beer and batter: Brews, baseball, and the growth of craft

Beer and batter: Brews, baseball, and the growth of craft

Although it still feels like winter outside, pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training next week, which indicates the time for baseball fans to start getting excited. With baseball, of course, comes beer, and for many, an increasingly exciting selection. The rich tradition of beer and baseball began not surprisingly as an effort by […]

Jason Oliver, head brewer at Devils Backbone, served as one half of the inspiration for Lloyd's Revenge, a high-test dark beer borne out of the first official collaboration with Champion Brewing Company. Photo: Jon-Philip Sheridan

Brewing collaborations mean good news for your pint glass

I begin this article at the end of a long, but thoroughly enjoyable brewday. Today was Champion Brewing Company’s first official collaboration brew, between myself and Devils Backbone Head Brewer Jason Oliver. The development of this collaboration is a result of a long and funny e-mail chain that began with an article regarding New York’s […]

File photo.

Give brew its due: Bring beer back to your holiday table

Beer and Thanksgiving. The words conjure fond memories: an uncle asleep in the La-Z-Boy with a pile of cans on the end table; the Lions game on TV; a semi-interested crowd of family gathered around the set, making small talk. Tradition is great, but the days of discarded cans of Coors and sleepy football fans […]

Top of the Hops Beer Festival sells out for the first time

Top of the Hops Beer Festival sells out for the first time

The third annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival took place last Saturday, September 22, and a record crowd descended on the Downtown Mall, packing the walkways and breaking a new record by selling out the Ntelos Wireless Pavilion. Lines wrapped around the mall, heading east and west trying to get everyone inside the door. Once inside, festival goers […]

How to drink in Top of the Hops like a brewmeister

How to drink in Top of the Hops like a brewmeister

This Saturday, September 22, the 3rd annual Top of the Hops Festival descends upon the Ntelos Wireless Pavilion, and beer lovers like yours truly rejoice! Dozens of fantastic craft beers from all over the world will be available for tasting, and forecasts show temps in the mid-70s and clear skies. All signs point to a fantastic sunny and beer-soaked […]

Why are we already drinking Octoberfest beers?

Why are we already drinking Octoberfest beers?

Ah, Fall: crunching leaves, jeans and hoodies, the melody of Auld Lang Syne playing after a touchdown, and the warming smell of spices in the season’s savory food and drinks. Contrast that with the sweltering, soggy, drawn-out dog days of summer  and you’ve got two pretty different headspaces. This was the source of my shock […]

Soggy craft beer enthusiasts braved the rain at Devil's Backbone this weekend to celebrate the first annual Virginia Craft Brewer's Fest. Photo: Hunter Smith.

Virginia Craft Brewers Fest is a soggy success

Saturday, August 25th, was the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, held on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewing Company in nearby Nelson County. With over 22 participating breweries, Virginia’s craft beer surge has certainly earned itself its own day in the sun. Alas, that was not to be the literal case. After moving back into my remodeled home in […]