When you think of beer, you might think first about Milwaukee or even about Oktoberfest in Berlin, Germany. If you've followed the recent trends in craft beer, however, you might have heard there's at least one more place that deserves to be mentioned alongside those world capitals of beer.
That's Richmond, VA. And it's actually the #1 beer destination in the world.
How the heck could that be possible? Just ask Vinepair.com, a leading beer review and travel site, which named Richmond the world's top beer destination for 2018.
Central to the story: The huge proliferation of top-quality local breweries. From a humble start with just a small handful of them, Richmond now boasts at least 32 active breweries – with even more slated to open in the coming years. That gives it one of the most active brewing cultures (pun not intended) in the world.
Adding to the excitement, WalletHub called Richmond one of the best cities for foodies, noting that it rates as sixth in both restaurants per capita and ice cream shops per capita. When it comes to a variety of foods, Richmond delivers as #3 in grocery stores per capita, too.
In ranking the leading beer destinations, Richmond was scored against global cities including New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, and many others. Although it might seem surprising at first, taking a closer look at Richmond makes it clear just how it earned the gold.
A vibrant, creative world of craft brewing is truly part of this city's beating heart.
Each year, thousands of tourists are drawn to the area to explore the Richmond Beer Trail. There are even local tour operators who'll help visitors see all the different breweries and other beer landmarks – from the City of Richmond through the whole Richmond region.
(This Richmond Beer Trail map serves as a start for the curious.)
Although Richmond has never been quite as popular as it is right now, it has a historical connection to American brewing going back more than a century.
In fact, Richmond was the first place in the United States where beer could be purchased in a can. The same spirit of entrepreneurship persists to today when many craft beer executives focus on giving back to the community and supporting a vibrant downtown for Richmond.
The first wave of craft breweries arrived in the 1990s, with a handful claiming an even longer lineage. In 2012, Virginia's then-governor Bob McDonnell signed a pair of laws that expanded breweries' ability to do business in Richmond.
Not only did this give breweries the ability to run their taprooms without having a full-service dining facility, but it created the conditions for many smaller breweries to get their start: By leasing space within larger, more established brewing businesses.
That, in turn, has helped to sustain a spirit of cooperation truly unique to Richmond.
Today, Richmond is #1 per capita in breweries and serves as home to top brands like Ardent Craft Ales, Intermission Beer Company, and Legend Brewing Company. This cast of colorful characters is sure to expand as locals welcome more "brewtrepreneurs."
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