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BeerAdvocate’s Class of 2016: 34 of the Best New Breweries in the US

BeerAdvocate’s Class of 2016: 34 of the Best New Breweries in the US

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia – On the cusp of its first anniversary, The Virginia Beer Company was recently recognized as one of the top new breweries in the country by BeerAdvocate magazine. As part of BeerAdvocate’s annual “Class Of” honors, 34 breweries out of the 861 new breweries that opened across the country in 2016 were selected as the best in their class. Virginia Beer Co. was one of two Virginia breweries selected for last year’s honors.

The Brew Enthusiast

We started 2017 off by catching up with our friends at The Brew Enthusiast, and spent some time discussing/enjoying 'Burg beer and looking ahead to what's brewing in the new year. Cliffs Notes: seasonal cans, bottle releases, more barrel-aging/fermenting, new small batch beers, and all the cheers you can handle! 

I think VBC is going to do well, both because the founding team is awesome, and because they’ve already set a solid foundation on their business. Their brewhouse, already stocked with a 5-barrel pilot system, is built for long term growth, and they made it abundantly clear that that they’ve got s%#t to do and they’re going to get it done.
— Chris McClellan, The Brew Enthusiast

Full article available at The Brew Enthusiast

Robby Willey (co-founder), Chris Smith (co-founder), and Jonathan Newman (brewmaster)

Travel Therapy in Williamsburg

Last year, Team Virginia Beer Co. was invited to visit NYC for a Visit Williamsburg event. One Williamsburg visiting another...very existential! During this visit we had the pleasure of meeting Karen Schaler, host of Travel Therapy. As they say, all good things come to those who wait - last month, Karen made the trip to our own Williamsburg in Virginia. She visited a number of spectacular locations in the area including The Williamsburg Winery, Alewerks Brewing Company, and Silver Hand Meadery. We had just started brewing a couple weeks prior, and we were fortunate enough to also host Karen during her tour! Check out the video below and make plans to visit all of these great Williamsburg area destinations this spring!

TRAVEL THERAPY with Karen Schaler Featuring Greater Williamsburg, Virginia as Hidden Gem Winter Romantic Escape for Couples. See Karen's top foodie finds, resorts, spas and craft beverages.

Local Scoop Gets The Scoop On VBC

We're all really excited (understatement) about the start of brewing at The Virginia Beer Company. Just as we were preparing for our very first brew day in January, The Local Scoop swooped in and got the scoop (so to speak) on our plans to get brewing and get open in 2016. Excerpt below and the full story can be enjoyed here

Amid the hustle and bustle of preparations last week in anticipation of Winter Storm Jonas, the team at Virginia Beer Co. was busy preparing for another momentous, albeit less apocalyptic, occasion.

After years of planning, co-founders Robby Willey and Chris Smith, along with brewmaster Jonathan Newman, worked despite the backdrop of snow to get ready for the first brew day at their Second Street brewery in Williamsburg.

If all goes to plan, the new craft brewery will have its first beer completed by mid-February, with a goal to finish seven more beers ahead of a grand opening tentatively scheduled for March.

“We’re all really excited,” Willey said.
— Amanda Kerr, The Local Scoop Magazine

What's In A Story

One of the biggest draws to me for opening a brewery was doing so with one of my best friends. Who doesn't like the idea of working together with someone you know you get along with, and someone who shares similar ideals to you on Day 1 in the workplace? And that dream is about to become a reality as we get ready to open The Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg, VA in Spring 2016! For Chris, Jonathan, and I it has been a long, amazing, arduous, and fulfilling journey to build this brewery and finally, in 2016, begin brewing! For Chris and I in particular, the conversation to open a brewery started as far back as 2007 and really ramped up in 2010, before Chris & Erin quit their jobs in 2012 to move back to Williamsburg. As you can see from the very first press we ever received about The Virginia Beer Co. in this 2013 article from The Flat Hat, it took us a bit longer than expected to get up and brewing. Not for lack of planning and trying (we tell ourselves), but sometimes that's the way opening a new business goes. Preparedness and dedication will eventually win the day, and we've had a number of amazing experiences since returning to Williamsburg (I following suit full time in 2014).

One of the things that kept us going was our fondness for the Greater Williamsburg area. A big reason for returning to Williamsburg to open a business was because it's where our story as partners began. While we looked at many different areas up & down the East Coast that could have been interesting places to open a brewery, at the end of the day we knew we were coming together over our love of beer in the state where we met, and doing so in the place that brought us together just made sense. It didn't hurt that Chris's wife, Erin, was also a William & Mary alum. Or that Chris and I volunteered for a board for the College and co-chaired our respective 5-year reunion gifts, both bringing us back to campus on a regular basis. Or that Chris's youngest brother, Will, was set to graduate from the same university in 2014. Whatever the reasons, we had a continued appreciatioin for our time at W&M, for the lessons learned while there, and for the personal connections we had maintained since graduating. One thing was for certain:  when the time came to start our adventure in 2012, we had no doubt that Williamsburg was the place to do so. It was the home to a community that had already given much to us and our friends and our families. We were already giving back to the college community part-time, so why not make it a full time endeavour and give back to the Greater Williamsburg area community on a full time basis? The passion to create something that could foster community engagement and be philanthropy focused was there and we simply needed the place and the mechanism to bring it all together.

It has taken us longer than we thought. It's been more expensive and more frustrating than ever imagined. But recently, Chris and I were afforded opportunities to reflect on our stories. Chris was even asked by his high school alma mater (Westminster School), a high school that his wife and all of his brothers also attended, to reflect way back about what then and what now tied together to push him down an entrepreneurial path. I recently had the opportunity to reflect on my relationship with my collegiate alma mater, an alma mater shared with Chris and his wife and Chris's youngest brother, about where my experiences have led me. All of this reflection reminded us about the authenticity of our place and plan, and why we've continued to forge down the road of uncertainty to open a brand new brewery amid a booming brewing landscape. Long story short:  here, in Williamsburg, it's personal. It's why we're here. It's why we're still here. And it's why we love being here!

All of this nostalgia came about as we approached the eve of our first brew day, when we had the recent fortune to reconnect with William & Mary's newspaper, The Flat Hat, to provide an update on our plans. This time, we actually had a facility to tour, a brewmaster to introduce, and ingredients waiting to be turned into beer! So while we may have missed the mark by about two years between interviews with The Flat Hat, needless to say we were pretty excited to see where our story had taken us when we finally had a chance to read the new article...

College Alumni bring brewing to the ‘Burg

So what's in a story? Well, to us, just about everything. And we hope that you'll agree when you have the chance to sample The Virginia Beer Co.'s rotation of beers at 401 Second Street this spring!

Quick Hits & Food Trucks, Part 2

It's been an amazing start to the new year in the Greater Williamsburg area. The biggest news (at least for us) is that The Virginia Beer Company's buildout at 401 Second Street is practically complete! With the exception of a few odds & ends on our punch list, we've been working steadily along to make this facility into the brewery of the future. With the wrap of construction and the start of brewing (maybe that's bigger news!), we've been busy getting ready for a grand opening in the spring, and find ourselves trying to take a moment to recap the amazing start to the year.

In our last update, we provided a few notes on the delivery of our brewing equipment and the progress of our buildout. In addition, we were getting hungry over the prospect of food trucks being allowed in York County. The December vote that was set to allow food trucks was tabled due to a complication (per WYDaily), but the New Year's resolution stuck early and the Board of Supervisors passed the updated regulations in January (per WYDaily) (almost a year after we first started the conversation)! We had initially worked to design 401's beer garden so that food trucks could pull alongside the space and provide access to their sumptuous morsels while our patrons were enjoying the outdoors with a Virginia beer in hand in front of the brewery. We're now excited about the opportunity to work with Williamsburg's amazing culinary artists and introduce the area to some new flavors (such as from our friends at Karnage Asada) now that we can formally host food trucks at 401!

Meanwhile, the Hampton Roads craft beer scene continued to grow in new and exciting ways. Future openings by fellow newcomers were announced and upcoming moves and expansions by other known brewers were unveiled. In addition, the year-end brought with it a time of celebration for the amazing brewing going on around the area. We were thrilled that our Public Frenemy No. 1 collaboration with fellow York County brewery Alewerks Brewing Company received a silver medal for Best Collaboration at the VEER Magazine Golden Tap Awards! To play even a small role in the HRVA craft beer scene in 2015 before we open was a great thrill. We CANNOT WAIT to get even more involved when Spring 2016 rolls around!

Quick Hits & Food Trucks

It has been a whirlwind around 401 Second Street the past few months. We have been working steadily through our buildout and site work, and after many months are mere weeks away from the completion of these tasks. All of our major brewing equipment is now in house, and if all goes well Virginia Beer Co. will be brewing in a few (comparatively) short weeks! We had a quick mention in a recent business notes section in The Virginia Gazette to mark the milestone of our equipment delivery.

We've also been working closely with York County on their food truck regulations. After many conversations about the viability of food trucks in the area, and our desire to host them at 401, we are happy to report that York County's Planning Commission came out in support of food trucks in November! We're now less than a week away from a final vote on the topic by the York County Board of Supervisors on 12/15. If all goes well, we'll be seeing some tasty trucks roll in to Williamsburg (with many frequent stops at 401) in 2016!

Exciting times around Williamsburg and around 401!

Hampton Roads Enjoys A Good Beer

We've been working hard at The Virginia Beer Co. to get up & running. Buildout and site work at 401 are ongoing and our bigger pieces of equipment (including brewhouses!) and kegs are arriving soon. With all that's going on, it can be nice to take a step back and admire the amazing craft beer landscape that is developing in the Hampton Roads area. Virginia is already a beer destination in it's own right, and we love seeing HRVA get its due as well. The Daily Press recently published an article on the breweries, current and future, working to build the area's craft reputation. And they were kind enough to put together an interactive map of what's here and what's to come! Get your road trips planned!

Hampton Roads breweries reach out to customers in new ways

Map: Breweries in Hampton Roads

VEER Magazine Visits 401

The Virginia Beer Co. recently had the pleasure of hosting Elizabeth Erschens, of VEER Magazine & Virginia Craft Beer Magazine (and HomebrewUSA & HomeBrew USA -Hampton!), at 401! Elizabeth turned that visit into a wonderful article that is currently gracing the pages of the most recent issue of VEER! We can't say enough how much we greatly appreciate the kind words. And we can't wait to host Elizabeth and everyone else at 401 once our buildout is finished; things will look just a little different and we'll have a lot more beer!

Check out the article in the current issue of VEER, or on VEER's website at the link below: 

Williamsburg Readies for Virginia Beer Company

Via @VirginiaBeerCo on Instagram: 

HR Growler's SB604 Update

Virginia Beer Co. is one of many breweries opening in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The growth of the craft beer scene in Virginia - to over 100 breweries, more than doubling since 2012 - is due in large part to the passage of SB604. The bill, which allows for breweries to serve beer on premises without hosting a full service restaurant on the same premises, revolutionized Virginia's beer industry. But how is the Virginia scene a few years later compared to where it could be? Ben Swenson put together an overview of the current atmosphere around the HRVA areas for Hampton Roads Growler, including updates on the adventures of The Virginia Beer Co. and a number of our local brewing brethren as we all work to bring even more quality beer to our state's liquid landscape! It's an exciting time, not without its challenges, but in the end there's more growth and excitement to come! Check out the full article below or in the latest hard copy edition of HR Growler: 

SB604: The law that launched the craft beer explosion in Hampton Roads and a look at where we are now.