With 290 craft breweries in in the commonwealth, making it 12th in the nation, and an economic impact of $1.7 billion, Virginia is obviously doing its part to encourage the growth of this industry. While craft brewery owners have been hit hard by COVID-19, doors are beginning to open again, much to the delight of customers.
The Shenandoah Spirits Trail is a network of wineries, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries, from Harrisonburg through Shenandoah County to Winchester/Frederick County. Launched in 2016 with 14 vineyards, 9 craft breweries, 2 cideries, and 2 distilleries, the trail has now grown to 47 such establishments, all connected by classic Valley views, historic sites, and charming Main Street communities.
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is 15 breweries from Harrisonburg to Natural Bridge—incorporating some of the most scenic areas in the Valley to hike, bike, paddle, horseback ride, or just tool along with the top down. Sitting down with a cold, local craft beer after a vigorous day in the mountains is a treat that’s easy to find along this trail.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Is it safe to visit a brewery or vineyard considering all the restrictions we are living under right now? We checked with several members of both these trails, all of whom put your safety as their first priority. Here are some of the safety precautions they have in place:
Billie Clifton of Backroom Brewery in Middletown told us, “BRB is a farm brewery and we have lots of outside space; please limit your group size to 10 or fewer people. Our picnic tables seat 8. Moving tables together will not be allowed for now. Our restaurant (brewpub) is open for takeout. You may take your orders with you or to one of our designated out door spaces. Please do not enter any building without a face mask. You may also bring your own picnic or bring food from another restaurant. Social distancing guidelines should be observed as well. Call them to find out more at 540- 869-8482.
The Front Royal Brewing Company is providing service only through curbside, contactless local delivery, and dine-in in their outdoor beer garden and dining deck (weather permitting). This includes food, canned and kegged beer and bottled wine delivered to your home, anywhere in Warren County. Call them at 540-631-0773.
The Box Office Brewery in Strasburg opened for business with outdoor seating on May 15th, following the Governor’s order. Outdoor tables are spaced over six feet apart. Throw-away menus are provided with plexiglass separations at the bar ordering area. Growlers can be filled. Hand Sanitation Stations are provided at both entrances and restroom area. Call them at 540-465-2609.
Wisteria Farm and Vineyard outside Luray, is offering curbside pickup or free delivery with a minimum of three bottles. Outside seating is available, and they strictly enforcing social distancing guidelines. Reservations are recommended (call 540-742-1489 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org). When you make your reservation, you can place your wine order and give your credit card info to ensure a “touchless” transaction. Some other rules apply, too; check their website.
At Brothers Craft Brewing in Harrisonburg, owners have created an outdoor space to allow for social distancing while enjoying a pint on the patio. There are four separate outdoor sitting areas that will have a maximum occupancy of 10 patrons. Each space has sitting areas six feet apart and signage to remind patrons to socially distance their group. Their indoor space is now set up to create a line to the bar with six feet between patrons for both patio consumption and to- go sales available. Curbside service is available, too. Find out more, including delivery options, at 540-421-6599.
Tristan Napotnik at the Elkton Brewing Company said, “During “Phase One” we are open Tuesday through Thursday, 1pm to 6pm, Friday and Saturday 1pm to 8pm, and Sunday 1pm to 6pm. We have outside seating on our front porch and a roped off area that extends from the porch into the parking lot. The seating areas are intentionally spaced out for our patrons’ comfort and safety. If our outside area is full, then we encourage patrons to get our fresh-filled Crowlers to-go.” Contact them at: ElktonBrewing@gmail.com.
Cory McDaniel General Manager at Seven Arrows Brewing Company and Nobos Kitchen in Waynesboro, says, “We are open for outdoor dining at half capacity with 6 feet distancing of tables. We are providing Silverback Distillery hand sanitizer for guests and staff. Facemasks are required for all staff members during their shifts. Our staff members are sanitizing all common surfaces and fully cleaning all tables and chairs after each guest leaves. Restrooms are cleaned and sanitized regularly. Beer and food is available for curbside as well.” (540-221-6968)
Daddy Rabbit at Queen City Brewing in Staunton told us, “We are open, running deals on both take-home growlers sales and discounts off our “patio pints”, which can be enjoyed on our spacious patio with plenty of room between groups. Cheers!” (540-213-8014)
While working within the Governor’s orders, different breweries and vineyards may have different physical arrangements, individual policies, hours, etc., so be sure to check them out first, either online or by phone. In addition to those mentioned here, you can find even more places to enjoy a drink responsibly here.
Banner photo of Elkton Brewing Co. courtesy Andrew Cothern, Virginia Tourism Corp.