Local Craft Breweries Partner for Specialty Beer

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Alewerks Brewing Company and the Virginia Beer Company are partnering to release a beer for the Whistle Belly craft beer festival. (Courtesy Alewerks Brewing Company)
Alewerks Brewing Company and the Virginia Beer Company are partnering to release a beer for the Whistle Belly craft beer festival. (Courtesy Alewerks Brewing Company)

Two local breweries are joining forces for the area’s largest craft beer festival.

York County-based Alewerks Brewing Company and the Virginia Beer Company are collaborating to produce a new beer, which will debut at the Whistle Belly craft beer festival this weekend.

The beer, called “Red Rye IPA” is the first collaboration between the two breweries, and is the first beer to carry the Virginia Beer Company name.

Alewerks brewmaster Geoff Logan said the beer, called “Red Rye IPA,” features hints of mango, papaya, pineapple and citrus, and uses a new hop variety known as “azacca.”

Virginia Beer Company co-founder Robby Willey said the collaboration exemplifies the spirit of cooperation in the Williamsburg area’s craft brewing community.

“You could say it’s the hometown brewery helping out the new guy, but it’s also two old hands supporting the brewery that got them interested in starting their own,” Willey said.

Alewerks opened in 2006 in the Ewell Industrial Park in York County. Virginia Beer Company is eyeing a fall opening at 401 Second St. in York County.

Willey said Alewerks had been helpful and offered insights into the industry as Willey and co-founder Chris Smith prepare for a fall opening of the Virginia Beer Company. Willey said Red Rye IPA was a natural extension of that relationship.

Logan and Virginia Beer Company brewmaster Jonathan Newman created the recipe, the Virginia Beer Company provided some of the ingredients and Alewerks is using its equipment to brew the beer.

The beer will premiere at the Whistle Belly craft beer festival, sponsored by DoG Street Pub and the Junior Women’s Club of Williamsburg. This is the first year for Whistle Belly, after DoG Street Pub chose to revamp its existing craft beer festival.

The festival is set to include more than 90 local beers from about 35 area breweries, along with local wines, Colonial-era cocktails and food from DoG Street Pub, the Trellis Bar and Grill, Blue Talon Bistro and the Catering Company.

“This is a long awaited peek at what’s in store from the Virginia Beer Company, who has been building anticipation from this community for a while,” DoG Street Pub General Manager Michael Claar said in a news release. “Williamsburg is a burgeoning incubator for creative, locally conscious businesses and it is being rewarded by Alewerks Brewing Company welcoming a collaborative craft beer community.”

Willey said future collaborations could be in store between Alewerks and Virginia Beer Company.

“We hope it’s a sign of things to come,” Willey said.

Whistle Belly kicks off Aug. 2 in Merchants Square in downtown Williamsburg. Ticket information is available online here.

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