Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the nation’s most famous scenic drives. And sometimes, you get thirsty along the road. Despite being one of the first states to embrace prohibition, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is now a hotbed of craft breweries. The VBR Beerway is the official beer trail of the area with 15-stops throughout the Roanoke Valley for a self-guided, self-paced boozy excursion. If you want to hit them all and imbibe responsibly, there are bikes to rent downtown or Uber available.
Each brewery has a different vibe, which makes it easy to find your favorite place to toss one back. Sometimes you want a happening, hoppy spot and sometimes, you want a chill bar to reconnect with an old friend. Sometimes you feel like a decadent sour or an IPA, while other times you want a light, day-drinking brew. Whatever your mood, here are a few of the not-to-miss highlights because no great story ever started with a salad. I’ll cheers to that.
For Epic Views and Great Food – Ballast Point Brewery
The new east coast outpost of celebrated San Diego brewery, Ballast Point is a bit outside the city, but the views make up for the hike out of town. A great “get to know” you date spot, the floor to ceiling glass windows and roaring fire pit set the mood where you can make small talk over bites and brews. The food is restaurant (not bar) quality with innovative chef-driven plates. The Manta Ray Double IPA and Grunion are GABF gold winners, but there are also interesting flavor profiles like peanut butter, Thai chili (caution: hot), and Moscow mule if you’re feeling experimental.
For Your Neighborhood Experience – Starr Hill Pilot Brewery
Starr Hill Pilot Brewery out of Charlottesville is the tasting room where “everyone knows your name.” Yes, it’s the Cheers of brew halls and the place to post up and unwind after a long day at the office (judgment-free if you toss back more than a few). Try Love, a light, sippable wheat. There’s often music and food trucks making it a casual place to unwind. $1 from every beer is also donated back to the community so you could say they’re Blue Ridge proud.
For Live Appalachian Music – Deschutes
Another west coast cult favorite that decided to migrate east, Deschutes out of Bend, Oregon is a happening spot downtown. They have one locally made brew called Market St. (where they’re located) and the rest are Oregon imports. Come on Wednesday for their Appalachian jam sessions where anyone can show up and jump in on the fiddle (or any other instrument) to make sweet mountain music together.
For Game Night – Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers
One of Roanoke’s first craft breweries, Soaring Ridge is the place to fully waste away the day. Housed in a reclaimed garage, it’s a spot where your classic college bar games live on in infamy. Giant Cornhole Tournaments are what they’re known for, but they also host random one-off events like Mario Kart and Battleship throwdowns. It’s a great place to come with your whole posse or even the kids in tow for some casual day drinking. Their signature pours have quirky local names like Virginia Creeper and Twisted Stump.
Best Patio –Big Lick Brewing Company
What started as a small home brewing operation evolved into Roanoke’s first nano-brewery, and continued to grow. Recently named one of the 50 fastest growing craft breweries in the U.S. by the American Brewers Association, the vibe at Big Lick is shabby chic, eclectic. Popcorn, live music, trivia, and the killer patio encourage hanging around. When you get hungry, there’s a kiosk to order tacos from Tuco’s across the street or you can get Beamer’s 25 delivered from next door.
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