Celebrating the Hop

By Posted on Aug 20 2018 | By

August’s monthlong craft beer party

The ascendancy of craft beer in the United States is a remarkable tale. From a handful of breweries in the 1970s, today over 6,300 establishments are pulling tap handles daily.

Even more impressive? The entire industry sprang from whole hops driven by hobbyists.  As talented amateurs realized their beers were getting accolades from friends and neighbors, they turned professional to the lasting gratitude of their local communities.

Here in Virginia there are now over 215 breweries, 20 more than North Carolina; long considered a craft beer destination state.

And while beer is associated with fun and good times, consider that the industry contributes more than $9.4 billion annually to the Commonwealths economy, employs over 28,000 people and annually sends one billion dollars to the state’s treasury.

Always nice to hoist one for a good cause.

Caroline Rodan, spokesperson for the Virginia Tourism Corporation says, “The beer industry is an authentic way to get travelers to come and visit the Commonwealth with their taste buds. Many of the breweries are kid and pet friendly, making it an ideal family destination trip.”

Rodan underscores today’s success story has a direct link to our state’s history. “Beer was produced in Jamestown and Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson and Madison were brewers,” she said.

Reinforcing Virginia’s accelerating beer reputation, two large West Coast breweries have opened facilities here: Stone Brewing and Ballast Point Brewing Company.

In 2021, Deschutes Brewery will open a $95 million production facility in Roanoke. The brewery is the eighth-largest craft brewery in the United States highlighting the Old Dominion’s reputation as impressing even the big boys.

Moreover, the media buzz has grown to such an extent the Travel Channel named Virginia as one of the Nation’s top seven beer destinations.

In concert with the explosive facility growth, an increasing number of breweries are now farming or contracting to purchase Virginia grown hops and barley creating a collateral ‘Farm to Stein’ industry.

So with all the good news there must be a way to toast its success, right? Indeed, and it’s coming to a brewery near you in August.

Toast Virginia
Virginia’s August Craft Beer Month was launched several years ago and is showcased by the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The celebratory month spotlights the passion, creativity and local values that make the state’s craft beer scene unique. It’s likely your favorite brewery will be hosting several events throughout the month with the focus on beer, entertainment and community outreach.

A centerpiece of VTC’s promotion is toasting Virginia breweries. It encourages beer lovers to post a video or picture of a “toast” to their favorite Virginia beer or brewery using #ToastVA, then to “pass the microphone” by tagging a friend and inviting them to do the same. Weekly winners with the best Toast to Virginia will be chosen throughout August to win beer related gifts.

What’s a toast? It’s open to interpretation, but salutes, songs, tributes and photos are all options. Follow #ToastVA and #VACraftbeer on Instagram for additional ideas.

One brewery that mirrors the industry’s August creativity splurge is Lost Rhino Brewery Company in Ashburn. Each August Lost Rhino releases it “Rhin O’fest” Märzen Lager which is a German-style lager. The Märzen style originated from Bavaria and is traditionally served at Oktoberfest.

Logan Martin, the brewery’s graphic designer said, “Our Rin O’ fest is an excellent companion to autumn’s first chill with its full body, malty flavors and a clean, dry finish. Additionally we are also planning on releasing one of our barrel-aged sours as a part of our ‘Sour Sundays’ program.”

The purpose is to educate Rhino’s customers about the process of souring beer and the myriad flavor profiles that can be achieved with the process. Its August sour release has yet to be determined but Barrel Master Alex Lynch has a few ideas already foaming in his head.

The number of activities similar to Lost Rhino’s is seemingly limited only by your beermagination. Here’s a recap of a few August opportunities that might lure you away from your smart phone and get you connected with live folks and real beer:

*Statewide music concerts and performances at both breweries and outside venues.

*New and special beer releases at numerous breweries.

*Barbeque & Beer festivals.

*Myriad restaurants featuring local and statewide brews and tap takeovers.

*India Pale Ale Day August 2.

*International Beer Day August 3.

*Virginia Craft Brewers Fest August 18 at Three Notch’d Brewery, Charlottesville.

*Beer centric charity fundraisers.

*Growler giveaway events.

The partial list can be fleshed out by visiting your favorite breweries online or searching of breweries in Virginia for breweries near you.

And if beer seems to be a pedestrian libation for such gustatory celebrations, keep in mind what Plato said 2,300 years ago, “He was a wise man who invented beer.”

Now we’ll drink to that. In August.


Published in the Summer 2018 edition of Dine, Wine & Stein magazine.


Categories : WINE ARTICLES