The incredible growth of beer, wine, and spirits in Virginia has led these like-minded businesses to find homes close together. Here are the best booze clusters in the commonwealth.
Olde Towne Portsmouth
Portsmouth may not be the first place that comes to mind for Virginia drinking destinations, but a seven-block stretch of High Street in Olde Towne has arguably the perfect blend of beer, wine, and spirits spots, all within walking distance of each other.
Take the ferry from Norfolk and you’ll step off the boat right at the front door of Legend Brewing Depot, where you can sit outside with a beer and a spectacular view of the Norfolk skyline.
The Bier Garden, a Portsmouth staple for more than 20 years located nearby, features authentic German food and more than 400 beers from all over world. If that isn’t your thing, directly across the street is Stellar Wine Co., which offers more than 200 varieties in a cozy, sophisticated environment.
And the latest gem is Copper and Oak Craft Spirits, a distillery and tasting room that specializes in small batch whisky, gin, and moonshine.
If you’re looking to grab something to eat, the choices are plentiful. Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas, Gosport Tavern, Baron’s Pub and The Lobscouser seafood restaurant are only a few of the options with diverse menus, extensive beer and wine lists, and craft cocktails.
– Pete Newell
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a 15-mile stretch home to more than a dozen breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries. Folks travel Nelson 151 for many reasons. Hiking. Skiing. Camping.
Doesn’t matter why you’re there, just make sure you take time to enjoy a booze trail bookended by two of the better-known Virginia breweries: Blue Mountain Brewery and Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Both are acclaimed for their breathtaking views, award-winning brews, and hearty food.
Not far from Devils Backbone is Wild Wolf Brewing Company, a quaint brewpub built in a 100-year old schoolhouse.
Starr Hill Brewery’s founder Mark Thompson recently opened Brewing Tree Beer Company, and there are six wineries along Nelson 151, each offering tours and tastings for those looking to stretch their legs. Whether you stop at Afton Mountain Vineyards, Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery or any of the others, you’ll get magnificent views along with your vino.
Bold Rock Hard Cider and Blue Toad Hard Cider are popular stops for fans of their refreshing, gluten-free ciders (Bold Rock also competes with Blue Mountain for the best view of the bunch).
Last, but certainly not least is Silverback Distillery. After you snap a photo with the gorilla statue out front, pull up a stool and try their small batch gin, vodka, rye whisky, honey rye whisky, bourbon or moonshine.
– Pete Newell
Leesburg, in brewery-rich Loudoun County, offers multiple beer sites and sips in one tidy, walkable package. The town’s historic district hosts specialty shops, a section of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad bike and pedestrian trail, distinctive dining, and breweries.
Crooked Run Brewing offers beers that play across a spectrum of styles and includes offbeat creative touches. The cozy brewery is so popular that its owners opened a second, larger brewery down the road.
Black Hoof Brewing Company displays a reverence for German- and British-style lagers and Loudoun Brewing Company offers great IPAs and approachable styles. Bike TrAle Brewing Company also offers a variety of ales and lagers brewed at nearby Bike TrAle Brewing Farm. And Black Walnut Brewery has a cozy little pub-like atmosphere and beer garden that is a must-visit.
Pair food with a worthy beer selection and other beverage choices at Delirium Café (look for the familiar Belgian Delirium pink elephant), Fire Works American Pizzeria, Tuscarora Mill (aka Tuskie’s) or, just outside of town, Dog Money Restaurant & Brewery. Enhance your beer drinking with the “legendary” Leesburg Brew Crawl or the LoCo Ale Trail passport program.
– Annie Tobey
Scott’s Addition, Richmond
Scott’s Addition is an imbiber’s delight with more than a dozen breweries in an area that stretches just a few blocks. Add to that a handful of cideries, a distillery and a meadery and it’s no surprise the area is known for its booze.
Originally slated to be a residential neighborhood, it was rezoned in 1927 for industrial use, which is largely responsible for the open, warehouse vibe that has attracted this particular cluster of businesses.
Start your journey at The Veil Brewing Company to get your hands on limited cans of juicy IPAs (if you’re lucky), then make your way over to the chill tasting room at Vasen Brewing Company before trying out the patio at Ardent Craft Ales.
Hungry? Give ZZQ a whirl. Its Texas craft barbecue was recently named the best in Virginia by Food & Wine magazine. If that’s not your thing, Lunch & Supper serves up mouth-watering comfort food around the corner, and Brenner Pass can’t be beat for a little fine dining.
Fans of cider don’t want to miss the dry ciders at nearby Buskey Cider or the killer digs at Blue Bee Cider, an old stable turned tasting saloon and patio. And everyone should try mead once in their life (makes you a little loopy, folks) so make sure you check out Black Heath Meadery.
Dig spirits? Don’t forget the award-winning Reservoir Distillery, which offers tours, tastings, and bottle sales.
That’s quite a list, and we haven’t even talked about The Circuit Arcade (with 40 pour your own taps) or River City Roll, a cushy boutique bowling alley. Whew!
– Hilary Langford
One of the state’s newest booze hot spots is Norfolk’s Chelsea neighborhood. If you drive too far, you’ll end up in Portsmouth, but stay focused and you’ll land in an oasis of good beer and gems of restaurants within walking distance.
The Birch has landed on best beer bar lists for years with its eclectic offerings. Benchtop Brewing Company is making what could be considered the most innovative beer in the region and Smartmouth Brewing Company still draws a crowd to its original taproom. And it’s upping its game lately by swapping out Notch 9 IPA for a juicy, hazy, refreshing can of Game On.
Meanwhile, Torch Bistro offers giant burgers and tons of beer options with a laid back vibe and a decent outdoor space.
And if you really want to enjoy a local tradition, order a fantastic wood-fired pizza from the Chelsea Bakehouse and have it delivered to The Birch to pair with beer from all over the world.
– Robyn Sidersky
Historic downtown Fredericksburg has quietly gained a reputation as a beer haven.
What started with the Capital Ale House (providing locals with dozens of craft beer options long before it was the hip thing to do) has grown to include Spencer Devon Brewing, which offers a full menu with house-made beers, and Red Dragon Brewery, a Wales-themed spot that churns out beautiful, delicious beers.
A few blocks away is Kybecca, a former general store re-imagined as a rustic chic eatery with swanky cocktails and an innovative menu. It’s great for cozy date nights or time out with the girls.
Sedona Taphouse, a recent addition, also has a wide tap list and promises not to repeat beers. Brock’s Riverside Grill, right on the Rappahannock River, has a patio bar and offers steal-the-glass nights and tap takeovers.
The downtown area is small enough to leave your car in one spot and wander, not just for its breweries and restaurants, but charming shops or a stroll along the river.
Outside the downtown area, about a dozen more breweries have set up shop within the past few years, but you’ll have to hop in the car.
– Robyn Sidersky