VA Brew Fest Samples Over 50 Local Breweries

It is one of Virginia's fastest growing industries, more than 50 local breweries showcased their beers at this year's Virginia Craft Brewer's Fest in Nelson County.

Live music, a cigar and of course, beer. What else could be better on a Saturday in the Mountains.

This year's Virginia Craft Brew Fest was held at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, drawing over 2,500 attendees all taking a sip of various local Virginia brews.

"I'm a porter fan, and I will not give out the name of a brewery because there are so many breweries I just love that I won't do that to them," said William Pugh, a 3-time brew fest attendee.

The brew fest was an event for all: designated drivers who sipped ginger ale and root beer, kids who played in bubbles, and even those who wanted to be fashion forward.

But one attendee said coming to an event like this you have to be well prepared.

"So this is the ubiquitous pretzel ring, since we're not allowed to bring food in and out, we bring the pretzels to kind of help clean the palate between different beers," said Eric Butler, an attendee from Durham, North Carolina.

Breweries in the commonwealth are major attractions for tourism, having an economic impact of over 600 million dollars.

"You know events like this help people know what's made in their communities," said Brett Vassey, CEO of the Virginia Craft Brewer's Guild. "You know when they go home, there is a tourism aspect, they say I had no idea that beer was made in my community or near my community."

More importantly, these breweries give people jobs. According to a study by the Brewers Association, Virginia employs more than 8,000 people with an average wage of $33,000.

"You've got to have somebody grow it, you've got to have somebody brew it, you've got to have somebody to sell it," said Eric Butler. "I mean as long as everybody enjoys it responsibly, it's a good thing."

As the brew fest keeps growing in attendance, the Brewers Guild hopes to make the festival a multi-day event in the future.


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