We’re presenting our list of 12 great beers for the season. We’ve tasted well over 200 Christmas beers over the years. Some have been bad elves, others have been nothing short of gifts. Some of the ones on this year’s list are relatively easy to find, others are from our archives and beer vault. We hope even the ones from the archives will have stories that will help you find you own path to great beers. Follow these links to find earlier posts in the series: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth,
For much of May, we’ll be featuring the exceptionally vibrant beer scene in Roanoke, Virginia. Roanoke isn’t the only city that figured out a beer-friendly town is an economically growing town, but it did it better than most. Three local brewers, two Virginia brewers and one of the best of the west offer a marvelous range of experiences. A first class historic hotel is icing on the cake.
Dulles Take-Off Tasting Tour: Sterling, Ashburn, and so much more. April 15-22
So many breweries, so few livers. Loudoun County as has been a magnet for craft brewing since the last wave of crafters in the 1990’s. We brewed at Old Dominion for a decade and did two collaborations with Lost Rhino more recently. Some of the best brewers in the Mid Atlantic turn out easy drinking smooth beers and complex masterpieces in far more breweries than our week allows.
There are only a handful of these breweries that are close to accommodations, so only a few will be central features in our upcoming Brews and Snooze Brewery/Inn combination book. This week we get to talk about some breweries that will be peripheral entries in the book.
Leesburg, and Chantilly do provide an opportunity to stay and walk to breweries, but some other hotels are worth considering ride sharing rambles. The Marriott Dulles is a classic hotel built with the same brick that the Rockefellers used to build some of the reconstruction of Williamsburg. It’s one of the showpieces of the chain and the hotel that the Marrotts tend to use to meet with big shots. We stayed in a suite that had been recently occupied by the queen of the Netherlands. It was just fine, thank you.
To see all the brewing possibilities, we recommend you visit https://www.craftbeer.com/breweries/find-a-us-brewery — a map site maintained by the Brewers Association. They don’t have every brewery in the country, but they’re the most comprehensive and accurate of the major beer mapping site.
For the next week, we’ll present some of the best beers we tasted during several recent visits to the area.
Surprising Wilmington: Three Breweries and a classic hotel. Beers of the Day: April 8 through April 14.
Wilmington, Delaware, is the city that is perhaps best known as the urban area you have to avoid on a trip from Washington to Philadelphia. For beer tourists, though, it’s worth a stop. Three breweries, plus a few others on the periphery, give plenty of opportunities for beer hunting and there are fun things to see and do.
The DuPont Hotel helps make the city a destination.
Several breweries tried and failed to change the face of Wilmington breweries during the 90s and early 21st Century. Iron Hill brewery was the first to stick, opening up a branch more than 10 years ago in a waterfront area that also hosts the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball field. Today a high rise Hyatt so you can catch a game, a few beers and sleep it off without disturbing your car.
The City’s newest brewery is located not quite two miles from the city center. It’s a good sized beer hall with a wide range of beers and if the location isn’t very central, it does have plenty of parking.
The DuPont Hotel is a gem. Opened in 1913, it is a masterpiece of French and Italian craftsmanship. The theater, a short interior walk from the lobby is a $40 million attraction in its own right and claims the fourth largest stage in the country.
From the Dupont Hotel, the industrial-themed Stitch House is a short and safe walk–if you stay on market Street. Menu is above average– prices run a bit over $10 bucks on average, but vary widely in size from massive sandwiches to a more modest pair of scallops.
Weekend Ale Trails: Virginia Beach, Virginia
For the next several weeks we’ll feature fun places to explore beer — and much more–a different destination each week. Our beers of the day will feature beers from this wonderfully wet destinations.
This week’s beers are from Virginia Beach, Virginia. You can stay on the beach and walk to several of the town’s breweries; other’s will require a ride sharing service. Be warned — while some of these breweries are easily reached by walking or ride share, others are a fair distance from the center and Virginia Beach is, by area, larger than either New Orleans or Philadelphia.
The main attraction of Virginia Beach is, of course, the beach and its three-mile-long boardwalk. The statue of Neptune is iconic. There’s also an aquarium, an historic lighthouse, and a huge pile of trash that has been landscaped into a tourist attraction (Mount Trashmore).
We’ve tended to stay at the north end of the beach more or less near 32nd street. There are good bars in addition to the two easily walkable breweries and a number of chains to choose from if you’re using or stockpiling points. A Hilton Garden Inn is a bit more affordable than the full scale Hilton nearby. A Courtyard was one of the best of that brand if you’ve got Marriott status. An impressive buffet breakfast is around the corner from the dreary “Bistro” on weekends and in season.
There are many dozens of hotels up and down the beach and reaching up to five miles inland. The number of new hotels dropped like a stone during the Great Recession and recent growth has still left the number of rooms in season well short of demand. Off season is a great time to explore if you can live without an ocean dip. Rates drop like a stone, but most businesses stay open most of the year.
A dazzling array of breweries await you if your quest includes all within the massive city limits. We’ll start with three that are walkable from the beach. Home Republic and Smartmouth’s Pilot are an easy walk back from the boardwalk on either side of 32nd Street. Back Bay is a longer walk west on 9th, then continuing as it turns into Norfolk Avenue.
The nearly one dozen breweries run from fairly small local favorites to the much more ambitious New Realm which took over the space built for Green Flash’s failed east coast project. Check out our Beer of the Day feature each day this week for some of our favorites.