How to celebrate national beer month in Virginia

Champion Brewing Company, founded by Hunter Smith in 2012, is expanding to Richmond with a brewpub set to open by the end of the year. Photo by Eli Williams Champion Brewing Company, founded by Hunter Smith in 2012, is expanding to Richmond with a brewpub set to open by the end of the year. Photo by Eli Williams

Locals certainly don’t need another reason to imbibe in our area’s tasty brews—but we’ll take it. August is Craft Beer Month in our fair state, which means breweries are holding celebrations and events to showcase their wares.

The biggest event to hit our area is the fifth annual Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, hosted by Devils Backbone Brewing Company August 20. The celebration features 85 breweries, which will offer tastings of their beers from 1-7:30pm, as well as music from three bands and nosh from nine food vendors. And don’t worry about having to do rock-paper-scissors with your friends to secure a DD, camping on-site is available (for an extra fee), and includes tent camping, glamping shelter options or an area for your RV. The festival has sold out the last three years, so get your tickets early.

Get in on the action

If you’ve ever wanted an up-close look at how beer is made, now’s your chance. Wild Wolf Brewing Company is hosting hop-picking parties daily (until all the pickin’ is done) at its Nelson County location. Beer-lovers can help fill buckets with locally grown hops and earn Wild Wolf bucks to use on future beers.

Blue Mountain Brewery is also offering a chance to help, with a Hop Pickin’ Party from 11am-7pm August 19 at its Barrel House in Arrington. A volunteer two-hour shift earns you a free lunch and souvenir T-shirt.

A lively bunch

Starr Hill Brewery has been celebrating Virginia Beer Month with several events in August. One dollar of every pint sold in its tap room in Crozet this month goes to The Bridge PAI. And this weekend includes a Lockn’ pre-party with Disco Risqué August 19 and a Back to School party August 21 with music from The Fredds Unplugged.

Opening soon

Champion Brewing Company will open a brewpub in downtown Richmond, and it’s expected to be up and running by the end of the year. Champion will provide the beer for the space, located at 401 E. Grace St., both from its Charlottesville location and brewed on-site in Richmond.

For the food, Champion is partnering with chef Jason Alley and Michele Jones of Pasture and Comfort restaurants in Richmond.

“The Richmond market has been very supportive of our beers, particularly our experimental brews, since day one,” says Champion president and head brewer Hunter Smith in a release.

Wood Ridge Farm Brewery, which grows its own barley, oats, rye, wheat and malt, has supplied malt for other local breweries and distilleries, such as Champion and Devils Backbone, in the past. Now it’s opening its own brewery in Lovingston on September 3.

Closer to home, Random Row Brewery (608 Preston Ave.) and Hardywood Brewery (1000 W. Main St.) are both looking at fall openings. On August 9, Random Row brewed its first batch of beer on its larger brew system, a session IPA with Mosaic and Chinock hops, that will fall in the 4-5 percent ABV range. They plan to have 14 kegs of the session IPA at the brewery’s September grand opening, the date of which they’ll announce soon.

Hardywood, based in Richmond, is opening a nano brewery here in which they’ll brew small batches of one-offs. Beers that get C’villians’ stamp of approval could eventually hit the larger market. The brewery’s outpost, located in the Uncommon building, is projected to open in September or October.

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