Charlottesville is for Craft Beer Lovers!
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:
In their own words, this is a cycle-centric tavern and bike repair shop that celebrates the culture of a good ride, cold beer and righteous sandwiches. Their selection of more than a dozen beers on tap are curated with a cyclist’s sense of perfection, and when the plaza is sun-drenched, a short ride down the hill on 10th Street is just the place to be.
Cville’s newest and shiniest 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.
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, grab a seat outdoors at a picnic table under a tent and obscured from the roads by potted shrubs, or inside, freshly squeegeed and ever closer to the garden merchandise, and enjoy down-to-earth beers that will soon have you hooked.
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.
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.
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.
Steps away from Beer Run down Carlton Avenue, Firefly is another chic indoor/outdoor bar and eatery. Featuring a copious selection of craft beers and more, Firefly’s atmosphere is relaxed and hip. The post-industrial indoor space offers video and board games with certified family appeal, while outside on the patio brings privacy and relative quiet. The menu is replete with traditional pub offerings, although Firefly has also gained a solid reputation as a top vegan restaurant in town.
If the New York Yankees were a brew-pub, they might be called Selvedge. Recently opened in the fabulously redeveloped Woolen Mills at the river end of East Market Street, Selvedge on day one became Charlottesville’s chic-est event space. In partnership with Champion Brewing Company, Selvedge offers a line of “unique, small-batch, culinary-inspired beers” that pair well with the menu from the kitchen of Broadcloth next-door. We recommend a visit, as the grounds are fabulous and the beer is tasty,but call ahead as reservations are required.
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.
Homegrown hometown boy Hunter Smith is the force behind this young and feisty brewing company that’s bursting at the seams. We didn’t know what a ratskeller was until Champion opened its original brew pub on 6th Street downtown. Dark and divey with a food truck idling outside, this den of men in beards and trucker caps is “must-see” for any beer aficionado, and their delicious beers will soon cause you to unbutton the top.
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!