Virginia Craft Brewers Fest caps a month-long celebration of local beer

SMALL BITES

Photo: John Robinson Photo: John Robinson

Crafty brewers
Every month’s a good month to celebrate Virginia’s ever-growing craft beer movement, but this month it’s official. And what better way to commemorate Virginia Craft Beer month than with the First Annual Virginia Craft Brewers Fest on Saturday, August 25 (Sunday if it rains) from 2 to 8pm at Devils Backbone Brewing Company. A cup (the trophy kind) will be awarded to the best overall brewery as well as the top picks in five categories: Pale Ale, Belgian-style, Lager, Dark Beer, and Specialty Beer. Expect beer tastings from 20 area breweries, live music, and tasty, local eats from The Rock Barn. Purchase tickets in advance at virginiacraftbrewersfest.com and pay only $10—the price is doubled at the door. Kids under 12 are free, and VIP packages, which include camping and RV passes, are available, so you can whoop it up the whole weekend long.

Little Sichuan
Charlottesville’s got another authentic Sichuan restaurant to call its own. Early this month, Gingko opened on the Corner’s 14th Street in the old Ni Hao Café space, and diners are already clamoring for owner Sophie Yang’s specialities, perfected by growing up in Chengdu (Sichuan’s capital) and her previous job in the bustling kitchen at Peter Chang’s China Grill. The 50-seat space serves lunch and dinner (including an $8 takeout special) cooked by an all-Sichuan staff. Try the steamed chicken with chili sauce or the Sichuan pork platter—thin pieces of pork wrapped around cool cucumber all heated up with a spicy garlic sauce. A beer and wine license is in the works, so pumpkin cake will suffice for now. And what about the restaurant’s name? Yang’s son, Paul Chen, who is a UVA alum, explained that not only is the gingko tree one of Chengdu’s most common trees, but it also has Charlottesville ties: Jefferson brought the tree to America and the largest one on Grounds has stood there since 1860. History, botany, and food unite.

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