Virginia Craft Brewery Snapshot: Beach Brewing Company, Virginia Beach

Chances are good that on a few occasions you have lived out your own version of those famous commercials in which a flawlessly beautiful, sunny day on the beach, complete with Adirondack chairs, crystal blue water, and the distant, lazy sounds of passing seagulls is made complete with an ice cold bucket of beer by your side.  Personally, I’ve never argued with such a setting, and I prefer it to most others.  Any other.  On days such as these, I simply choose a different beer to stock the bucket with, and if you’re reading this blog, you may have as well.  My bucket, or more likely cooler, is usually supplied with plenty of good, craft beer that seems to fit the day rather perfectly.  The only way to up the ante, I’ve found, is if you can stick something local down in the ice, if you can find a brewery nearby.  In Virginia Beach these days, this is not a difficult thing to do.  In operation for roughly a year and a half, and just a mere seven miles or so from the surf, Beach Brewing Company has been supplying locals with well made craft beer for their blissful days on the beach, or just about any other occasion.

Within the words of brewery owner Justin MacDonald, you can hear a desire to connect the brewery’s beer with those beer curious folks, and of course, the passion that creates such good beer in the first place.  “We’re very lucky to have great local support.  People are excited to have a brewery back in Virginia Beach and a big part of my job is educating our customers about our beer” MacDonald explained in a recent email.  MacDonald, who like many in the business started as a homebrewer, understands that from both the savvy craft beer drinker to the newly curious, tastes can range from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Of course, inherent in the widely varied styles of beer craft brings to the table, is both one of the most wonderful features of craft beer, but also can make it somewhat difficult to suggest what beer a person may care for.  MacDonald’s gladly accepted role of teaching people not only about Beach Brewing’s own beer, but in turn, about craft beer in general, has the right approach, that of an open mind and palate.  This is the most enjoyable route as well, to simply not limit yourself in the styles and beers you try.  “I find that most people who are new to craft beer tend to begin with less aggressive, less hoppy brews, but everyone is different.  I encourage everyone to try a wide range of beers, because there’s certain to be something you’ll love that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”  For the MacDonald and the brewers at Beach Brewing, it’s a relationship that is wonderfully reciprocal.  “The range of palates amongst beer drinkers is incredible, so in order to challenge people, we have to challenge ourselves.  Beer geeks demand more of their beer, and we’re extremely grateful for the passionate culture that surrounds our industry.  Rather than say, ‘This beer is for this person, and this beer is for another.’, I encourage people to try many different styles and see what best fits your taste.  You might surprise yourself”.  Not only a recommendation for others, this is also his own mantra when exploring different beers.  “I make a habit of trying anything new I come across, because I’d hate to miss something great.”

This relationship between Beach Brewing and their fans, as with many between craft breweries and the craft curious, is certainly beneficial for both.  MacDonald and his brewers seem to be constantly trying something different, and enjoy doing so.  “One of the greatest things about this job is the opportunity for experimentation.  We’re constantly pushing ourselves to improve, be it with an existing recipe or a new release.  There are always a few test batches bubbling away around here.”  MacDonald continues, “We push ourselves to continually improve and innovate, which in my opinion, is what really makes our industry great.”  Some of the experimentation in the near future includes experimenting with barrel aging some of their beers.  For the time being, the current line-up of Beach Brewing recipes is a well rounded of group of brews, ranging from their American wheat beer Hurricane Wheat, their Seadevil Stout, Hammerhead IPA, Hoptomus Imperial IPA, and Tigershark Red, described on their website as an Irish style red ale.  Some of the brewery’s test batches end up as brewery only seasonals.

Spend enough time talking to craft brewery folks like MacDonald, you’ll often hear something that you simply don’t hear quite enough of these days, a love for the job.  “When I get up for work every day, I’m excited about getting to the brewery to work on the various projects we have going.”  It’s this kind of passion that drives the production of flavorful, interesting beer at craft breweries nationwide.  Beach Brewing is a wonderful example of just that, and a feather in the cap of Virginia based craft breweries.  And although MacDonald is content to grow the business in a manner respectful to his beer, Beach Brewing’’ beers are starting to gradually show up in other areas around the state. “Distribution range isn’t the cause of great beer, it’s the effect.  We’ll continue to grow organically, in a way that allows us to continue to focus on the important things; namely, the beer and the fun we have making it.  I won’t put a number on how many barrels we should be making, or how far our distribution will go.  If we’re making great beer and having a great time doing it, then we’re doing exactly what we set out to do”.

My own city of Roanoke has been lucky enough to be the recipient of some of MacDonald’s and his passionate brewers’ beers.  On a recent chilly, windy March day, I sampled their Hammerhead IPA.  As I took the first sip, I enjoyed the beer’s initial touch of sweet maltyness that quicky turned the stage over to citrusy hops and a slightly puckering bitterness.  The pattern of foam lacing stuck its way down the sides of the glass, and reminded me of how the last bit of a crashed wave looks before being pulled back out to sea.  As my taste buds were wrapping themselves around the lingering flavor of the hops, I smiled and looked forward to the next sip.  All I need now, of course, is my Adirondack chair, a crystal blue ocean, a beach full of warm sand, the sun, and my cooler.

Take a look at their website here!


~ by thebeerroad on March 5, 2012.

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