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Cville may be known for its wine, but the beer scene is hopping too! Here are the 12 best breweries in Charlottesville and all the details to visit and taste.
Chances are, even if you’ve never been to Charlottesville, Virginia, you’ve probably had a beer from here.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Central Virginia, Charlottesville is roughly an hour from Richmond and two hours from DC, making it a sophisticated metropolitan area with cozy small town vibes.
It’s also home to University of Virginia, presidential history, local shops, wineries, distilleries, farm-to-table restaurants and an abundance of breweries.
As a result of both its location and all it has to explore, Charlottesville has become a great spot for people wanting to plan a quick weekend getaway – especially if they are looking for a destination with plenty of options for locally sourced foods and great craft beer.
As Charlottesville is all about taking advantage of seasonality, any beer lover visiting will notice the offerings change depending on the time of year.
From Summer Ales and Goses during the hot summer months, to Porters, Stouts and heavy IPAs in the colder months, you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes.
The other great thing about breweries in Charlottesville is you can opt for those outside of the city with beautiful views and scenery (like Blue Mountain Brewery and Brewing Tree) or you can go with the walking part of the Ale Trail in downtown Charlottesville (which include spots like Starr Hill Brewery and South Street Brewery).
There are also several beer festivals throughout the year (here’s a recap of one when we had too much fun!).
Let’s take a tour of my favorite spots for the best craft beers in Charlottesville!
12 Best Breweries in Charlottesville
Starr Hill (Downtown Location)
The second oldest craft brewery in Virginia, Starr Hill Brewery was created with a focus on two key items: craft beer and live music.
While its first location was in Starr Hill in Charlottesville, they’ve expanded over the years to include their downtown location in the Dairy Market and five other spots in Crozet, Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg and Tyson’s Corner.
When visiting Starr Hill you can expect to encounter great live music in addition to a variety of beer options.
With their classic line up including craft brews like Ramble On (a juicy IPA) and Northern Lights (IPA) and seasonal greats like Festie (Oktoberfest Lager) and Sun Burn (Summer Ale), it’s no surprise they’ve won awards at the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup and the Great British Beer Festival.
If you’re visiting the Starr Hill Downtown location, you’ll have the option for indoor and outdoor seating (with the outdoor seating being dog friendly) and you’ll also have access to great local vendors in the Dairy Market food hall. It’s also part of the urban Ale Trail and walking distance of the Downtown Mall.
This nano brewery just expanded with its second location on the Downtown Mall.
This new spot is just a stone’s throw from its first home, which is attached to 5th Season Gardening, which offers hydroponics, fresh hops and homebrew supplies.
With their appreciation for home brewing, it’s not surprising the vibe is small town brewers providing their friends with good beer, making it a fantastic casual spot.
Their California Common is a standout but this is also a good spot to be a little daring and try some of their riskier endeavors when you see them on the draft list, such as their Pickle Beer or their many seasonal Goses.
While you can order a variety of snacks at this location, a perk to going downtown means you can order food prepared by The Bebedero, a popular Charlottesville restaurant right next door.
This mission-driven brewery is all about bringing a sense of community to Charlottesville over good beer in a casual taproom setting.
Located on Preston Avenue and walking distance of the Downtown Mall, this brewery is dog friendly (outside) and usually has something going on, whether it’s themed trivia, charity bingo, a run club or even yoga.
One of my favorite things about Random Row would have to be their pizza.
Billy Pie Pizza, a Richmond-based group, brings stone-fired Neapolitan pizza to the brewery and it’s the perfect combo with their beer. The best part? It’s half-off on Tuesdays!
The pizzas pair so well with their beers like their award-winning Mosaic Pale Ale.
South Street Brewery
Operating as a brewpub since 1999, South Street Brewery joins Starr Hill in being one of the more tenured breweries in the area.
You can expect to experience good food and solid beer at this spot right off of the Downtown Mall.
South Street is a great place to share several appetizers with friends, like their jumbo pretzel or their wings (boneless, traditional or cauliflower).
Pair them with one of their flagship beers like Satan’s Pony (an Amber Ale) or Anastasia’s Chocolate Fantasy, which is a heavier stout perfect for the winter months – especially if you luck out with a seat near the fireplace!
Champion Brewing Company is another one of Charlottesville’s staples and, similarly to Random Row, they always have something going on.
With the original Run Club and a steady stream of live music, this is a fun brewery just off of the Downtown Mall.
Known for their core beers like Shower Beer (a Pilsner good for exactly what it claims to be if shower beers are your thing) and True Love (a Mexican-style Lager that will convert any Corona lover), Champion Brewery always delivers a good, low-key vibe.
Recently, Champion merged with Reason Beer, another solid brewery to check out, though I’m keeping it off of the main list since it’s part of the Champion Hospitality Group now.
Champion Hospitality Group, in addition to its great breweries, is also responsible for some of the best Charlottesville restaurants: Brasserie Saison, Siren and Passiflora – all within walking distance of Champion Brewery.
Three Notch’d Brewery
Three Notch’d Brewery is a brewpub bringing a little bit of history with your pints.
Named for Three Notch’d Road, made famous by Jack Jouett’s midnight ride to Charlottesville in June of 1781, their goal is to align what they produce with the history of Virginia.
Unsurprisingly, Three Notch’d produces beers fitting their historical background with flagships like Ghost of the 43rd IPA and their 40 Mile IPA.
When it comes to their other beers, though, they have a bit more of a modern flair with hits like Biggie S’mores Imperial Stout and their many Goses. They’ve also started selling non-alcoholic beers!
As this is also a craft kitchen, you can find lots of food options at this spot. From snacks like nachos and pretzel bites to burgers, sandwiches and entrees like Steak Frites, you won’t leave hungry.
They also offer Saturday and Sunday brunch and their patio is dog-friendly year round.
This 100% veteran-owned and operated craft brewery started off with its founders brewing on a kitchen stove.
From humble beginnings, they are now making award-winning beer, like their Artemis Wheatwine, a bronze winner at the 2022 World Beer Cup and silver winner at the 2022 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup.
While they do not offer food, Decipher allows you to bring your own or even have some delivered. They sometimes have food trucks onsite and you can check their schedule on Facebook.
With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, they are one of the few breweries where dogs are allowed inside as well (due to the fact no food is prepared onsite). It’s a great spot to bring your pup!
If you are looking for a spot with great food but want to add the brewery piece in, Selvedge Brewing at the Wool Factory is your place.
Located in a restored wool factory in the Woolen Mills neighborhood, Selvedge Brewing offers elevated bar food with locally sourced ingredients.
Their smash burger is one of the best in town and the side of mac and cheese is delicious.
They have a good draft list with flagships like Britches Get Stitches (a West Coast IPA) and Denim (an American Style Lager).
If you have non-beer drinkers in your group, they also offer wine, cocktails and mocktails and you have the option of grabbing a great bottle of wine at The Workshop, a boutique wine and coffee bar at the Wool Factory.
They have plenty of seating both inside and out. While outside is first come, first served, I would recommend making reservations for inside, especially on Wednesday nights when they offer weekly trivia.
Blue Mountain Brewery
One of the more recognizable names in Charlottesville beers, Blue Mountain is also home to some of the most beautiful views.
Nestled right in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, this was the first rural brewery to open in the area back in 2007.
In addition to producing classics like A Hopwork Orange (an orange-infused IPA) and the Full Nelson (a Virginia Pale Ale), they also have seasonal greats like Drink a Peach! (a peach Gose) and their Barrel House Series.
Blue Mountain Brewery also has an extensive menu and some of the best outdoor seating in the area so it is a spot where you can easily spend a lovely afternoon with a group of friends.
They also have an inn available to rent if you are looking to visit other spots in Nelson, like the several wineries nearby.
Brewing Tree Beer Company
A riverside brewery, Brewing Tree Beer Company has an expansive outdoor space with frequent live music, outdoor games to play, food available from their scratch kitchen and a solid beer list.
The food and beer is great, which is to be expected given its founders are Mark and Gina Thompson.
Mark Thompson founded Starr Hill and is a respected name in craft beer, while his wife Gina is a certified sommelier and has been a chef and caterer.
Their beer list is always rotating but some examples include Irish Red Ale and their Just Peachy Golden Ale.
Meriwether Springs Vineyard & Brewery
Charlottesville’s first combination winery & brewery, this location is close to downtown while still managing to be situated on 40 acres of land.
The original estate of explorer Meriwether Lewis, this is another brewery bringing the history of the area to the forefront.
As this is family-owned and operated, you’ll definitely get the feeling it’s a family-friendly spot. They also offer a lot of music events and the schedule can be found on their site.
This is a great one to bring children to because there is plenty of space to run!
Their beer list is composed of classics so you won’t be encountering anything wild here, but you can expect quality versions of the standards like Lagers and IPAs.
Pro Re Nata
If you are looking for a brewery with the feel of a music festival, you’ll love Pro Re Nata.
Located in Crozet, VA (just a short distance from Charlottesville), Pro Re Nata Brewpub & Music Hall has become a multi-plex, with multiple taprooms, a main stage, an outdoor shipping container bar and even an event space.
It’s also great for kids – there’s even a playground area.
While they have a ton of seasonal options, you won’t go wrong with one of their flagships like Sound Check (an American Lager) and Tapped Out (a Pilsner).
You’ll find local music weekly and, while listening to the talent, you can sip on their beer or even cider or wine.
They also have food trucks onsite daily, like Hops Kitchen and Za Spot, so no outdoor food is allowed.
This is another brewery where leashed dogs are allowed inside and out, so this is a great pet-friendly option.
If I had to pick a favorite among the best breweries in Charlottesville, it would have to be Three Notch’d and Champion.
Both have excellent beer that seem to agree with my beer preferences. The Hydraulion Red at Three Notch’d and Shower Beer at Champion are two of my favorites!
If it’s in season, the Firefly Nights Summertime Ale with Honeysuckle at Three Notch’d is one of the best non-traditional beers I have EVER had!!
All in all, if you are coming to Charlottesville to experience craft brews you won’t leave disappointed.
From small and scrappy to large and established, there is something for everyone no matter your taste.