Calling all beer connoisseurs: In case you’re feeling like you’ve tried all the breweries and hotspots the Blue Ridge Highlands has to offer (and there are many, so that’s really saying something!), we have a tip: Hop on I-81 and head over to Montgomery County, Virginia.
There’s one thing in particular that sets these breweries apart from the rest of the pack: A good handful incorporate farm-fresh initiatives. And that might sound cliche, but trust us, it’s not. Many of these places are using locally sourced -- sometimes backyard sourced -- ingredients and produce, and they’re putting them right in your beer. It’s like the farm-to-table movement, also sometimes called farm-to-fork, but in a pint glass! And it’s delicious, said Irene Kilmer, the visitor relations manager of the region’s tourism office.
So with that in mind, we asked Kilmer: Where are some of the best places to stop by? And she provided the following recommendations, in no particular order.
Scroll just past the map to view the breweries. And click or tap each star on the map to see their locations and website information.
Rising Silo is a farm brewery -- and just like the name implies, it’s located on a fully operational farm called Glade Road Growing. They brew all their beer on site, and use produce straight from the farm to make some truly unique creations. For example, fresh jalapeños might inspire a jalapeño stout. And for any non-drinkers, Rising Silo offers homemade sodas and kombuchas, as well. Visitors can take a walk around the farm to bask in the beauty of the New River Valley, breathe in the fresh air or pop a seat in the barn. It’s relaxed, casual and open.
This is one of Southwest Virginia’s only farm breweries, and they even use organic malts and water from the farm’s well. How cool is that?
Moon Hollow Brewing
This is the region’s newest brewery, considering they only opened about a year or so ago. Fun fact, Moon Hollow is actually located in a portion of an old elementary school and led by a female brewmaster.
Look up their beer menu online (although it does change, as these offerings are seasonal!) and currently you’ll find some quirky but delicious-sounding brews like a cranberry cinnamon pale sour ale, a blood orange eclipse gose, a guava-tational pull blonde ale and a new moon milk stout.
While they don’t offer their own food, you can often catch regional food trucks out in the parking lot if you’re looking for a bite. The brewery also crafts its own vanilla cream soda and has a cold brew coffee on nitro, for anyone seeking a caffeine kick to boot.
The fall colors are upon us -- and with that in mind, anyone up for a scenic drive? Beliveau should definitely be on your list, Kilmer said.
En route to the outskirts of Montgomery County, you’ll take in some winding and beautiful roads. This trip will prove it’s about the journey and the destination.
The story behind the brewery involves Beliveau’s owner, who had to go gluten-free for health reasons, so they decided they’d create gluten-free beers, which you can now taste and enjoy at the farm. In fact, it’s a completely gluten-free beer facility, according to their website.
The overall atmosphere is outdoorsy, you can bring your dog, and even snag a cheese board. Beliveau is a great place to bring children, as there are lots of running-around areas and rocks to climb. You can sip, savor the day and take in the gorgeous surroundings. There are picnic areas, hiking trails and lots of outdoor spaces scented by fields of lavender. It’s vast and incredibly family-friendly, as are many of the places on this list, Kilmer added.
Eastern Divide Brewing Company
Similarly to Rising Silo, Eastern Divide uses lots of local produce as well, but the vibe here is a bit different.
Eastern Divide Brewing Company is actually located within the Blacksburg Industrial Park, so it’s not as outdoorsy as some of the other venues, but has a more urban feel. You still have views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the taproom and the outdoor lawn and patio space.
They’re located in a large facility, so the brewery has an open, airy feel, along with an XXL outdoor patio area.
They’ll use non-traditional ingredients in their brews such as stonefruit. They offer a popular Blacksburg Pale Lager. They too have teas, kombuchas and other cool non-alcoholic drinks to anyone looking for some alternate options. It all looks delicious.
For people who like to share a snack or a meal, Eastern Divide also hosts a kitchen for Feast and Company, which serves farm-inspired cuisine. It’s like high-end bar food, Kilmer said -- tallow fries, banh-mi sandwiches, and even brunch. Think local, but with a gourmet twist.
Bull and Bones Brewhaus
Looking for more of a traditional restaurant to grab a beer and a bite? The wood-fired BBQ at Bull and Bones is a must-try, and the Virginia Tech campus is right around the corner, so to speak, if you’re looking for somewhere to stroll around after you grab that pint and some ribs.
There are actually two locations, in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, but they’re both fairly close to campus and offer something for everyone, when it comes to the beer and the food.
No matter whether you have your kids along for the ride, you’re going out with some friends or some family members, any of these places are sure to please, Kilmer said.
It might be worth visiting these businesses' social media pages and checking on things like hours and any changes or tweaks they’ve made due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But otherwise, let’s raise a glass and say cheers to finding new breweries and supporting local.
Wanderlust represents a strong desire to travel, but in Virginia, we call that feeling #WanderLove. Though travel hasn’t looked quite the same this year as in previous years, you can still fulfill your #WanderLove by exploring Virginia’s beauty with an epic road trip, in just a day’s drive. Travel safely.
Follow @GoToMontVA on social media and www.GoToMontVA.com for travel inspiration and information on visiting Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Montgomery County.