Charlottesville is for Craft Beer Lovers!

A pair of beer pints

Charlottesville is for Craft Beer Lovers

Craft beer lovers can find their happy place in Charlottesville! Here are eleven meccas near downtown for the delicious pint you seek.

Years from now we’ll look back and consider the present to have been Charlottesville’s belle epoch for libations of many types, but especially craft beer. Officially, we have a six-brewery, city-wide walking tour called The Charlottesville Ale Trail. On foot, if you walk a straight line, you’ll travel a mile and a half or so. But unofficially, Charlottesville has another half-dozen bars, restaurants, brew pubs and full-fledged breweries within striking distance! Each serves delicious craft beer—sometimes local, sometimes exotic (think Portland). You definitely don’t wanna miss these epic locations, so we put them together and now unfurl the banner of our Craft Beer Enthusiasts Journey. Check these out:

Dairy Market Starr Hill Taproom

A shiny and new brew pub, and Starr Hill’s super-swanky new home in a converted dairy building is a beautiful satellite for their Crozet taproom and production facility. With a terrace overlooking bustling Preston Avenue — what some call the start of Craft Beer Alley — and a sleek and expansive interior, Starr Hill has it all. Starr Hill beers speak, nay, actually sing, for themselves. From classics like the Mojo lager and 40-Mile IPA to seasonal offerings that bubble up the outer edge of the innovation-curve, this Charlottesville brewer is a longtime fave.

Rockfish Brewery

This cozy nook is nothing less than a beautiful marriage between an organic nursery and a craft brewery. Sure, it’s named after a sea-running fish, doubtlessly full of nutrients that enrich soil, and therefore complementary to a nursery, but never mind that. Just arrive at this former auto garage and grab a seat outdoors at a picnic table under a tent and obscured from the roads by potted shrubs. An attendant will soon be at your side. Sip these down-to-earth beers that will soon have you hooked.

Rockfish Brewery opened a second location on the Downtown Mall in 2022

Kardinal Hall

A clear Charlottesville fave since it opened in a former Coca-Cola warehouse on Preston Avenue, Kardinal excels in offering an extensive selection of craft beers, frequently updated and happily complemented with a robust kitchen offering. Inside, under a high ceiling, there’s ample room to spread out on picnic tables beneath flat screens tuned to English Premier League, or along the sun-splashed bocce court outside. Take your time to settle in for a perfect Charlottesville experience. Everyone here is happy, and the menu offers many choices for delicious pairings.

Random Row Brewery

Fifty yards down Preston Avenue from Kardinal Hall awaits Random Row Brewery, where in 2016 an energetic gang of entrepreneurs opened a relaxed station for craft beer enthusiasts to cool their heels. In 2020 Random Row won a bronze medal for their Mosaic Pale Ale at The Great American Beer Festival, and founder Kevin McElroy, who doubles as a trauma technician at UVA Hospital, continues to push the innovation curve. This is “love-local” brewery with lots of parking and ideal space indoors and out to sip delicious beer with friends.

Beer Run

From the folks who brought you Kardinal Hall, here is a bar/restaurant/wine and beer retail juggernaut with museum-like specificity and curation. Located on the lee-side of the trendy Belmont neighborhood, Beer Run is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The jovial, slightly distracted atmosphere will set you at ease, while the menu and beverage selection will conjure repose. 

Decipher Brewery

Another real McCoy, Decipher is code for a small group of beer experts from Colorado who found a non-descript warehouse on little-known Broadway where the craft beer cognoscenti conjure for Friday firkens. The beer is delicious, brewed right there next to you, by the guy pouring it for you. If and when you find Decipher, you’re likely to stay.

Three-Notched Brewing

This expansive beer hall ranks at the top of Charlottesville’s most visited. Overlooking the Ix Art Park, Three-Notched has built an impeccable reputation for premium craft beer, made onsite. This atrium-like beer hall echoes with laughter and excited revelation as the liquid pleasure and delicious comfort-food issued from the kitchen transport merry quaffers into their happy space.

So there you have it! Charlottesville is a craft beer lover’s paradise! The journey is shiny and new, and full of craft-makers, local-appreciators, future friends and delicious drafts. Go forth and discover!


Two new entries to Charlottesville’s craft beer scene include Superfly Brewing Company, a new entry on Preston Avenue by a certified British pub-veteran. A hand-made decor and solid craft line-up make a visit here worthwhile. Over on West Main Street, Devils Backbone Backyard offers a full line-up of the famous brand, and in late-afternoon offers some of the best people-watching in town.