Cheers! Have a Beercation in Williamsburg

Celebrate Virginia Craft Beer Month by traveling the Williamsburg beer trail from one artisanal brewery to another.

Looking for the perfect sudsy answer to the summer heat? Welcome to Virginia Craft Beer Month, the August celebration of the creativity and care behind the astonishing range of brews born in the Commonwealth.

Looking for an imperial milk stout brewed with locally roasted coffee and aged in bourbon barrels? How about an American pale ale with Amarillo and Nelson hops layered on a base of pilsner, wheat, and honey malts? What about a fruity IPA with aromas of peach and passionfruit from Pekko and Citra hops?

We've got you covered. And that's just a tease of the tastes from the craft breweries in Greater Williamsburg. 

No wonder the Travel Channel named Virginia as one of the nation's top seven beer destinations.

Indeed, there’s never been a better time to plan your beercation in Williamsburg. Start with a beer and food festival. Whistle Belly Festival takes place on Aug. 3 on Duke of Gloucester Street. No fewer than 40 Virginia craft breweries will be featured. .  

But if you can’t make that date, create your own festival by heading down the Williamsburg beer trail from one area brewery to another. Here are your choices. There's something for every taste and preference. 

Amber Ox Public House

Opened in 2017, the Amber Ox Public House is the new kid on the block that offers the best of both worlds — bold, exciting beers and bold, creative cuisine — all within a 6,000-square-foot building on Prince George Street, a short walk from the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg. The Southern-inspired menu changes with the seasons and the whims of chef Troy Buckley, who moved over from The Williamsburg Winery, giving up grapes for hops. Amber Ox offers a Public House Beer Dinner series monthly featuring a five-course meal with beers paired from their Precarious Beer Project.

What about the beers? These guys have fun — fun with hops and fun with names. Here's a sampler: Cheapbeertwo, an American wheat made with Kölsch yeast, sample hops, and bargain hunter malt. Scienceing Hard, an American pilsner that's subtle and spicy with Mount Rainier hops. My Shadow Is a Person, a Belgian dubbel brewed with house-made candy syrup that's full of rich, dark fruit flavors and aromas, but finishes clean and crisp.

The Virginia Beer Company

Creativity flourishes at The Virginia Beer Company, one of the few places that are barrel-fermenting beers, which is different from barrel aging. The owners take inspiration from Old World brewing techniques by filling used wine barrels with freshly cooled wort direct from the brew house, completely bypassing the stainless cellar tanks. Then they add wild yeast obtained from a lab in Richmond. Talk about merging history and your best Friday night mad scientist routine. But they're fun, mad scientists.

You'll find food trucks regularly parked outside, music, a nice outdoor space with cornhole and plenty of board games inside. They serve four beers year-round, including a Wrenish Rye dedicated to their College of William & Mary roots, as well as batches of small workshop offerings like a single-hopped Kölsch and a Waimea and Denali India Pale Ale.

Billsburg Brewery

Located in a beautiful setting at the county marina on Jamestown Road in James City County, Billsburg produces small-batch beers near Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestowne and the Colonial Parkway. Founder Dave Baum started as a home brewer and his passion led him to brewing in his garage, which attracted a growing number of fans. Finally, he and some partners decided to take it to the next level and open Billsburg. Local food trucks are on hand, sometimes as early as 11 a.m. There may be a party on the deck. And there's music on the weekends. For beers, the choices include James City Export Lager, Fly Away IPA, an unfiltered IPA, and Bulldog, an English pub ale.

Brass Cannon Brewing

Brass Cannon Brewing was also founded by home brewers and offers kegs, growlers and draft selections in its location on Mooretown Road. They brew what they like, balanced beers that you can drink any time of the day. Their year-round beers include Barrage Brown Ale, an English-style brown ale with American influences, and Broadside IPA, a blend of American and English hops combining Columbus and Kent Goldings hops, which starts with aromas of pine and citrus that are never overpowered by bitterness. For something different, try their seasonal Split Shot available during the summer, an American wheat beer with 50 percent malted wheat, 50 percent malted rye and no barley. Game nights are every Wednesday and trivia nights are every Thursday.

Alewerks Brewing Company

Alewerks was the first craft brewery in the area, which opened in 2006. Weekend tours and guided tastings are offered in its taproom and outdoor biergarten, showcasing up to 16 beers on tap, from year-round offerings and special small batches of great variety, to cask ale served weekly. There's something going on most nights including trivia nights on Wednesdays, bingo on Thursdays and occasional music on the patio. Their year-round beers include Chesapeake Pale Ale with a citrus aroma thanks to Cascade, Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial hops; Weekend Lager made in the Munich Helles style and a little spicy, and Paycheck Porter, a robust brew with notes of roasted coffee and toasted cocoa. Their signature seasonal beer is a Pumpkin Ale, otherwise known as pumpkin pie in a glass. 

In addition to the craft beer scene, explore the rest of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail.  If you've worked up an appetite to match your thirst, check out the best romantic meals and cheap eats.  Start planning your visit to Greater Williamsburg today.

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