Virginia has had a long love affair with beer; it’s been enjoyed here since 1607 and we even have a recipe from George Washington for his brew.
From Ales to Vienna Lagers and everything in between, plenty of breweries across Hampton Roads help quench our thirst for quality quaffs.
If that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, here is another: August is officially Virginia Craft Beer Month and many breweries, restaurants and bars have special events and other offerings to raise a glass to.
It’s no secret that it’s a great time now – as well as the whole year through – to enjoy a Virginia craft beer. Celebrate the occasion: here are some of my insider tips to get the most of the month:
1. Take a tour – Taste Tidewater Tours offers four distinct brewery tours. Led by beer experts, travel around comfortably and safely in one of the motorized coaches on tours in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. You’ll get access to brews and brewmasters you just won’t on your own. One of the stops is O’Connor Brewing in Norfolk; a line-up of their quality quaffs is in the photo here.
If you go on your own self-designed tour, that’s fine – there are many breweries open to the public, just do a little research ahead of time and have a designated driver if you do a lot of imbibing.
2. Take notes – remember which beers you like, and why, by taking notes in a trusty notebook. Jot down the basics: brewery name, beer name, beer style and alcohol level, then describe three visuals you are seeing, including color; three tastes on your palate; the body of the brew; your impression at the beginning and finish of the glass; and what you’d pair with the beer.
3. Be adventurous – try some styles of beers you might not have tried before. It’s Virginia Craft Beer Month; now is the perfect time to expand your horizon.
4. Ask lots of questions of the brewmaster and other brewery staff; educate yourself and your palate. Find out what they like about a particular beer – or don’t. Ask them what food they’d pair the beer with. Find out if there is a best glass to enjoy the quaff.
5. Try a variety of beer – now is the month. Visit a brewery, order a beer or two with dinner, or grab some to take home and enjoy on the back porch. Remember, Virginia is for Lovers – lovers of beer!
One last tip – take lots of photos and upload them on social media for other hopheads to see what you are enjoying. Be sure to tag them #VaBeer and also tag them with my name, #PatrickEvansHylton so I can check them out too!
STAY HUNGRY, HAMPTON ROADS!
Patrick Evans-Hylton is a Johnson & Wales-trained chef and award-winning food journalist.
He has reported on food in print, television, radio and social media since 1991, including being senior editor for food and wine at Coastal Virginia Magazine. His latest book is Dishing Up Virginia.
Evans-Hylton is a regular contributor to hrScene.com where the give readers food news to use from across the region and afar. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com