Monday, April 15, 2024

Places to visit on one tank of gas: Williamsburg Tasting Trail

(Image courtesy
(WYDaily photo/Courtesy

Editor’s note: No need for a plane ticket. Put that passport away. This story is part of a series that features regional attractions outside of the Williamsburg area that can be driven to on a tank of gas or less. Buckle up and hit the road.

With about 190 craft breweries, 276 wineries and nearly 40 distilleries in the state of Virginia alone, there is no shortage of places to get a drink.

In the past 16 years, the number of craft beverage selections in and near the Historic Triangle has grown significantly.

Along with the Williamsburg Winery and AleWerks Brewing Co. — both of which have been operating in the Historic Triangle for more than a decade — Brass Cannon Brewing Co., Virginia Beer Co., Silver Hand Meadery, Billsburg Brewery, Amber Ox Public House, Eight Shires Coloniale Distillery and Copper Fox Distillery have all opened since 2012. The newest addition will be the Precarious Beer Hall, from the owners of the Amber Ox., slated to open in downtown Williamsburg in the summer of 2019.

Within an hour’s drive of Williamsburg are four more wineries: Saudé Creek Vineyards, New Kent Winery, Hampton Roads Winery and James River Cellars Winery.

Related: Amber Ox plans beer hall, entertainment in Merchant’s square

All of these local establishments are now linked by more than a collective passion for artisanal beverages. The Williamsburg Tasting Trail is an awareness initiative sponsored by local breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.

(WYDaily photo/Courtesy Amber Ox Public House)

The Williamsburg Tasting Trail has an interactive website that is readily accessible on smartphones and provides detailed driving directions. The option to download and print hard-copy maps is also available on their website.

For groups whose designated driver is unable to tag along, there are options for transit along the trail. A few taxi companies, not to mention ride-sharing services, are well established in greater Williamsburg.

A couple businesses are likewise offering guided tours that provide transportation, including Taste Virginia, based in Virginia Beach, and Drink Williamsburg, located in the Historic Triangle.

Part of the appeal of local craft beverage producers is that each brings creative, novel offerings to drinkers’ palettes. For instance, Eight Shires Distillery’s spirits are all hand-crafted using historic recipes and ingredients of the 18th century. You can drink your bourbon, gin or rum and get an education about the colonial distillation process. 8 Shires’ mission is “to research, preserve, teach, and present the history of distillation from the Colonial American Period, the years 1600-1775.”

Billsburg Brewery is at the James City County marina. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
Billsburg Brewery is at the James City County marina. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

At the Hampton Roads Winery in Elberon, just a little south of Surry, not only can get get a delicious glass of wine, but you’ll also get to see the world’s tallest goat tower. Trust me, it’s worth the ferry ride.

While the majority of the breweries in the area don’t serve food themselves, they do host a number of different food trucks, all of which bring something unique and tasty to the table. Billsburg, Virginia Beer Co., Aleworks and Brass Cannon all have weekly food truck schedules posted online. Local breweries have also begun offering a number of events, from bingo, to karoake, to salsa lessons to Yoga — there’s something happening almost every night.

Related: Where can you find your favorite food trucks this Labor Day weekend

For an updated listed of which food trucks will be where, WYDaily has begun offering a Food Truck Tracker, so make sure to check back weekly for updates.

If you prefer a sit-down meal in a cool environment as well as craft beer, then Amber Ox Public House, 521 Prince George Street, is the place to be. Combining unique cuisine with regional beers, including those from their own 7 barrell brewhouse, Amber Ox made a splash in Greater Williamsburg, as the area’s first brewpub.

If you go

Be sure to check out the Williamsburg Tasting Trail website in advance so you can plan out your itinerary. As always, please drink responsibly and have a designated driver.

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