We're on to city number two in our journey to the baseball towns across Virginia. If you missed our weekend guide to Richmond, check it out here. If you're ready to head west to C'ville, keep reading for some expert recommendations on how to spend your time in Charlottesville, Virginia. (If you want the podcast version of our Charlottesville journey, check it out here.)
Things to Do
One of the most highly-recommended activities in the Charlottesville region is hiking. The city is just a 30-minute drive to the southern end of Shenandoah National Park, or the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to pay $30 for a park pass, you can head into Shenandoah and take in all that it has to offer. The pass is good for the next seven days, so if you're staying in the area for a while, it's certainly worth it.
Shenandoah has some phenomenal hikes, including Bearfence Mountain, Old Rag, Whiteoak Canyon and Big Meadows. Make sure to hit at least one of these if you venture into the park.
If you decide to take the free route and head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you've still got some great options. Just about five miles into the drive, you'll come across the Humpback Rock area. This part of the parkway includes a visitor center, historic farm, picnic area and one of the most grueling hikes you can find in the region, but it's absolutely worth it.
The trail is roughly one mile, but climbs 700 feet in elevation in that short distance, making it a tough one to accomplish. Once you get to the top, though, you'll be glad you did.
If you're not so into the outdoor adventures, you can go with some of the more historic options. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Charlottesville and offers tours of the third president's home and grounds. Not too far from Jefferson's dwelling is Ashlawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe. Both are great options for the history-lover in your group.
Depending on the season, head up to Carter Mountain in Charlottesville or nearby Chiles Orchard in Crozet and take your pick of apples, peaches, berries and whatever other fruits are in season. Make sure to stop in one of the Bold Rock taprooms for some refreshments after a hard day in the fields.
Charlottesville has no shortage of craft beer offerings. From Three Notch'd to South Street Brewing in the city, to the multitude of breweries within a 45-minute drive, you can't go wrong with any of the options.
Three Notch'd is one of the biggest craft breweries in Virginia, getting its start in Charlottesville and expanding to Richmond, Roanoke and Harrisonburg. Their offerings include Minute Man and 40 Mile IPAs, Hydraulion Red Ale and all kinds of seasonal and limited release brews. Make sure to include a stop in the Three Notch'd Craft Kitchen and Brewery in your trip to Charlottesville.
South Street Brewery also has some great offerings, including one of my favorite beers of all time, Satan's Pony Amber Ale. They've got a great location adjacent to the downtown mall, so it's an easy stop in for a beer.
If you really want to go big, I recommend booking a tour with Cville Hop on Tours. They have a few different tour options, and within each tour you can choose where you want to stop. Mariah and I went on one a few weeks ago, and we chose the 151 Tour. We stopped at Devil's Backbone, Bold Rock, Silverback Distillery and Blue Mountain Brewery. All of our stops were great, and being driven around by Cville Hop on Tours made our day much more enjoyable when we didn't have to worry about driving ourselves.
Of course, if you're more into wine, the region has some options for you, too. You can make your way to Jefferson, Veritas, King Family, Pippin Hill or Barboursville Vineyards nearby. Any of them would be a good choice for the wine-lover visiting town.
You didn't think we'd tell you about all the great things to do without including baseball did you? If you're visiting town during college baseball season, you can check out a game at the University of Virginia's Davenport Field. The Cavaliers have had plenty of success recently, reaching four College World Series since 2009 and winning the national championship in 2015.
If you're around during the summer, stop in at Cville Weekly Ballpark and take in a Tom Sox game. The Tom Sox are part of the Valley Baseball League, and host college players each summer in a 42-game season, competing against teams from up and down the Valley. The Valley League provides fun, inexpensive, family-friendly entertainment, so make sure to catch a game while you're in town.
Richmond, Virginia is a lively, exciting city, with plenty of activities for people with all interests. Whether you're an outdoors enthusiast, a craft beer or food lover, or a sports fanatic, there is something for you in Virginia's capital.
For our episode of Baseball Across the Commonwealth in Richmond, we spoke with Richmond Flying Squirrels play-by-play broadcast Trey Wilson, Center of the Universe Brewing founder Chris Ray and Richmond Tourism Director of Sports Relations J.C. Poma. Each guest provided us with some valuable insight on what makes Richmond such a great place to visit and how to make the most of your trip to the River City.
No matter what you're interests are, there is something for you to do on a weekend day in Richmond. If you have an adventurous spirit, maybe you want to start your day with a trip down the James River with Riverside Outfitters, as recommended by J.C. Or if you're not into the water scene, perhaps a hike will suffice. Check out Belle Isle, Forest Hill Park or anywhere along the James River Park System.
If you're more in the mood for a leisurely stroll, you could head over to Maymont, a large estate that was once home to James and Sallie Dooley, a wealthy couple who left their home to the city after their passing. Today, Maymont is home to the Dooley's mansion, Italian and Japanese Gardens, and a nature center. Trey recommends visiting Maymont on a nice day in Richmond.
If you're a big history buff, the options are endless. You could head to the aptly-named Museum District and check out the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and check out their signature exhibition, The Story of Virginia. Downtown, there's the American Civil War Museum, housed in the Tredegar Iron Works building. Venture a little further downtown and you'll come across the Canal Walk, featuring signage and landmarks along the way that will illustrate Richmond's industrial history and how the canals came to be.
Food and Drink
So you've spent your morning doing some activities, and you've worked up quite the appetite. No matter where you are in the city, you can find great food, but here are some of the recommendations from our resident experts.
If you're down near the Canal Walk or Civil War Museum, consider walking across the river on the T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge. Enjoy the great views of downtown and historic quotes from the Civil War along the way. Once you reach the other side, head over the Legend Brewing (the oldest brewery in the city) for some great beer and equally as great food. Try the Brown Ale, or whatever seasonal beer is on tap at the time.
If you're further west of downtown, head over to the Scott's Addition neighborhood and go to Lunch. Yes, that's the name of the restaurant. Both Trey and J.C. recommended Lunch, which is known for its take on traditional Southern food.
After you've taken in a meal, you're ready to hit the breweries. While there are good breweries all across the city, the highest concentration of them is in Scott's Addition. If you had lunch at Lunch, you're right next to at least 10 different breweries. I would recommend checking out Ardent, The Veil and Bingo Beer Co. If you're a cider fan, you have Buskey and Blue Bee nearby.
If you want to venture outside of the city, you can head a few minutes north to Center of the Universe, which brews the official beer of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. You can't go wrong with any of the options at their taproom.
Try heading east to check out Triple Crossing in Fulton Hill, or make a stop at the east coast facility of California-based Stone Brewing.
Take in a Game at The Diamond
It's been a full day so far, but you didn't think we were going to let you end it without a ballgame did you? End your night with a game at The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The Squirrels are the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
The team is famous for the fun atmosphere at their games, with their slogan "Have FUNN, Go Nuts!" You'll be entertained in between each inning with on-field games and contest, and there is no shortage of good food. Plus, with the stadium being so close to Scott's Addition, there are plenty of beer options throughout the ballpark. And, as Trey pointed out to us on the podcast, there is a wine offering from nearby New Kent Winery, but be careful - one can of wine does not equal just one glass of wine.
So there you go, all of the activities you'll need to spend a weekend in Richmond, Virginia. Of course, make sure to check each museum, brewery and restaurant's websites or social media pages for their current COVID-19 operating policies, and stay safe and have fun visiting the state capital!
There's a long list of craft beers brewed specifically for Major League Baseball teams. Frankly, if you operate a brewery in an MLB market, I don't know why you wouldn't want to release a beer collaboration with your local team.
Everyone knows that baseball and beer just go together. Plenty of people enjoy going to baseball games just to sit outside and drink beer all afternoon, and if that's what gets them to a ballpark, that's fine by me.
Biscayne Bay Brewing in Miami is the latest brewery to hop on the baseball bandwagon. They announced today that they will be releasing the new Marlins Lager.
According to the Miami New Times, the beer is a "crisp, light-bodied, German-style lager that's the ideal teammate for baseball on a summer day."
Say no more. Even though I'm a Braves fan and am not very fond of the Marlins, I'd give this one a try. Biscayne Bay said the beer is available at local grocery stores in Miami, but no word yet on shipping.
If you listened to this week's podcast, you heard me say at the end that I'm going to my girlfriend's river house this weekend. (It's actually on the Chesapeake Bay, but her she calls it a river house).
So since I am spending my weekend hanging out by the water, I decided to do a beer review of the perfect summer beverage.
Bud Light Lime is the ultimate summer beer and nobody can tell me any different. The first time I had it was actually last summer at her river house, and it's been my go-to drink for summer activities ever since.
It's the perfect amount of refreshing and crisp beer, with enough citrus to make you feel like you're on a tropical vacation wherever you are.
When I went to Smith Mountain Lake late last summer with a couple of friends, I convinced them to try it. They were skeptical at first, but they liked it so much that we had to buy another 12 pack before the weekend was over.
I tried to convince my mom to get one at a Nationals game last summer, but you know how ballpark prices are. It was $15 for a can, and as much as I love this beer, I can't justify those prices.
My friends judged me a little bit when I told them how good this beer is, and they said my dad would be disappointed in me for drinking it. (He is kind of a beer purist and not a fan of mass-produced beers, but even he can enjoy a citrus-flavored beer every now and then.) I have had some beers that I'm somewhat ashamed of (see Naturdays), but Bud Light Lime is not one of them.
As with all the beer reviews I do, the ultimate test is whether or not you can drink it at a ballgame. The answer is 100 percent yes, as long as you're willing to shell out 15 bucks.
I hope you all enjoy your weekends as much as I will, and pick up some Bud Light Lime next time you need a relaxing getaway.
Untappd Rating: 4.0 out of 5
The Houston Astros are probably not too upset that the baseball season has been put on hold. All the talk has shifted from their cheating scandal to speculation on when the season will return and whether or not there will be baseball in 2020.
One craft brewery in New Jersey is trying to bring the Astros' talk back by releasing a new beer taking shots at the team's cheating ways.
Departed Soles in Jersey City released Trash Can Banger this week, an IPA obviously named after the way the Astros relayed incoming pitches to their batters. In a social media post full of Astros puns, the brewery unveiled the can, which is reminiscent of Houston's 1970s rainbow jerseys.
"Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little to Marwin the day, so we're up and at 'em a little earlier than we should be getting a new Hazy IPA in cans Justin time for a surprise Sunday release," the brewery posted on Instagram.
"Some of you may have gotten the Signs that this was coming today, but beer releases are like a pitcher's arsenal, and you never really know what's coming and when...unless, of course, you cheat."
If the beer name, can design and social media post weren't enough, the brewery announced that the new beer is dry hopped with 2017 grams per barrel of Galaxy and Strata hops. 2017 of course is the year in which the Astros won the World Series while operating their sign-stealing operation.
Even with all the craziness in the world right now, at least we can all still come together to take digs at the Astros.
You're at a baseball game on a hot summer day. You want a beer to go with your hot dog and peanuts, but you're not sure what to go for. There's the classic baseball beers like Budweiser or Coors Light, or you can find craft brews at some stadiums, like Goose Island at Wrigley or Terrapin in Atlanta.
If you happen to be at Coors Field in Denver, you'll be able to find Blue Moon throughout the stadium. Blue Moon has blurred the lines of craft beer since its introduction. It started out in 1995 as the craft beer division of Coors Brewing Company.
But as part of one of the largest brewing companies in the world, can you really call it craft beer?
Well that's not the point of this post, so we'll let someone else decide that.
Blue Moon's summer variety pack includes the usual Belgian White, a Mango Wheat and and Iced Coffee Blonde, all of which are fantastic beers. I had the Iced Coffee Blonde recently, and while I was drinking it, I thought it would be the perfect beer for a hot day at a ballgame. (Disclosure: I have no idea if this beer is available at any baseball stadiums, but it 100% should be.)
The Iced Coffee Blonde isn't too far off from the regular Blue Moon. It's a sweet, light blonde ale that is very refreshing. There are some hints of coffee towards the end, but it's not an overwhelming coffee flavor.
I could see myself enjoying this beer on a beach, after a hike, or, like I've said already, at a ballgame. When you're watching baseball, you don't need a beer that's too flavorful. It just needs to be crisp and refreshing, and this one gets the job done.
Untappd Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Of the beers that I've drank and reviewed, the ones I speak highly of have something in common: a very malty flavor.
That's what I look for in beers. My favorite style of beer is Oktoberfest, but I also like red ales and lagers and brown ales.
This beer from Middle James Brewing in Charlotte fits my ideal description. The brewery says about Jamestown: "A collaboration with our friends at Town Brewing, this Scotch Ale is brewed with Simpsons Golden Promise malt from the UK. Expect huge caramel and toffee aroma and flavor, with a reddish/brownish color."
That sounds good to me. I got a lot of the malt flavor and could pick up some caramel notes, but I'll be honest, it was a hot day and I just wanted a beer. I wasn't too focused on trying to determine different flavors. What I can really tell you is that I really liked this beer. And at 7.2 percent alcohol, you don't need a whole lot of it.
Untappd rating: 3.75 out of 5
If you've read my beer reviews, you know I'm a fan of the products that Elkton Brewing Company is putting out. I've never gotten the chance to actually go there, as I came home right around the time everything started shutting down.
But my dad has stopped in there a few times to pick up some crowlers, and the beer they're brewing in Elkton is among the best of the breweries in and around Rockingham County.
This newest beer that they released is called Old Spotswood, and it might be my favorite of the three that they've released.
It was very similar in style to The Nutt, their brown ale, but in my opinion was a little better. At 8.0% alcohol, it also packs a punch.
The beer has malty, roasty and rich characteristics, with a bit of sweetness. The official description on Elkton's website reads: "Some might fault him for being loyal to the British, but times were different back then. And we'd like to think that he was always an American at heart (at least a Virginian!). This beer is a tribute to the olden days and to the heart of exploration which led Old Al to the valley!"
If you're anywhere near Elkton, I'd stop in and pick up a crowler or two of the Old Spotswood pretty soon.
Untappd Rating: 4.0 out of 5
There's nothing better than an American classic. Whether it's baseball, apple pie or hot dogs, you can't go wrong. The same thing goes for beer, too.
Budweiser is the classic American beer, and it goes perfectly with cookouts, ballgames, concerts and any other type of event you can imagine. It can always be your go-to beer, but sometimes, it's okay to change it up.
Anheuser-Busch has been coming out with new beers in their Reserve series since 2017 when they introduced the Repeal Reserve. Since then they've had some great selections, including the Jim Beam Copper Lager.
The latest style that they've come out with is the Nitro Reserve Gold. Craft breweries have been doing nitro beers for a long time, but this is the first time I've ever seen a mass-produced nitro beer.
The lager is infused with nitrogen gas to give it a smooth, creamy, draught-like feel. It's a fun one to drink, too, as Budweiser prints instructions on the can for how to pour the beer.
Traditional beers are usually poured down the side of the glass to prevent the head from foaming up too much. But with the Nitro Reserve Gold, you're encouraged to shake the beer upside down three times and then pour it straight into the glass to get the nitrogen infused throughout the entire beer.
While I like sticking with the classics, this new beer from Budweiser is one that's worth making a change for.
Untappd rating: 3.75 out of 5
Earlier this week I posted a beer review of Elkton Brewing Company's Reddish Knob. Today's review is another option from Elkton, The Nutt brown ale.
The newest brewery in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area is knocking it out of the park with their selection, and The Nutt is proof of that. While I had some high praise for the Reddish Knob, this beer is a great choice as well.
It has everything you expect from a brown ale - a strong malt flavor, hints of caramel and coffee, and very smooth. Just like Reddish Knob, this beer is named after a local mountain, and I love the way they describe it on their website: "A classic brown, just like the ski slopes in March, except this one is smoother."
If you find yourself in Elkton soon, you better stop in and pick up some of this beer to go. I tried to get a whole crowler to myself, but my parents still weren't letting that happen.
Untappd Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.