Fastest-Growing U.S. Craft Breweries in 2018

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

The Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent brewers, released its second annual list of the 50 fastest-growing craft brewing companies of 2018.

Representing 27 states across the U.S., these small and independent breweries experienced a median growth of 163 percent with the median size being 1,350 barrels of in-house production in 2018. Breweries on the list range from 50 barrels to more than 40,000, and grew from less than 70,000 barrels collectively in 2017 to more than 170,000 barrels in 2018. As a group, these brewing companies represent approximately 10 percent of total craft growth by volume for the year, and include 13 brewpubs, 35 microbreweries and two regional craft breweries. 

"Even as market competition continues to increase, these small and independent breweries and brewpubs demonstrate there are still growth opportunities across a diverse set of regions and business models," said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association.



Synthesis Wine-Beer Hybrid at Garden Grove Brewing

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Synthesis Garden GroveAs part of their fourth-year anniversary, Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery has announced the release of a beer-wine hybrid, which will be available on tap and bottled, beginning Saturday, Feb 16, at noon

“Synthesis” is a barley wine, white tawny port and mead hybrid. Traditional barley wines are made from 100 percent barley, but we included equal parts barley, Virginia-grown Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, and wildflower and orange blossom honey. Synthesis was aged for 14 months in Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah oak wine barrels, then transferred into steel vessels and aged an additional six months. 

Aromas of fig jam, white raisins, baked apples, oak and vanilla harmonize with flavors of Bit O’ Honey, toasted nuts, caramelized sugars and pear/fig reduction. 

500ml bottles $22/per bottle, Limit 3 Bottles per person.

Garden Grove Brewing

3445 W. Cary St., Richmond


Longoven + Alewife: The Best of Both

Tickle the Tastebuds - Cuisine & Restaurants

LongoveThis winter, the chefs of two of Richmond's top new restaurants – Longoven and Alewife – will swap kitchens for two separate tag-team menu takeovers at each other's restaurants. Alewife celebrates the bounty of the coastal waters of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jan. 28, Longoven visits Alewife

On Monday, Jan. 28 from 5 to 9 p.m., Chefs Andrew Manning, Patrick Phelan and Megan Fitzroy Phelan of Longoven will offer highlights from Longoven's ingredient-driven menu at Alewife, in Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood. Longoven's chefs will feature versions of their signature dishes made with sustainably sourced seafood and local produce in creative iterations.

Guests can expect 6 courses for $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), along with optional wine pairings. Highlights include Surf Clam, with Pepperoni and Mississippi Rice; Short Rib with Mustard and Turnip; and Mackerel with Cabbage and Pepper Relish. 

Alewife: 3120 E Marshall St., Richmond

Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant directly: 804-325-3426. (Reservations are highly suggested and are subject to a $50 per person cancellation fee, if cancelled within 24 hours.)

Feb. 24, Alewife visits Longoven

On Sunday, Feb. 24, Alewife's chef/owner Lee Gregory, a three-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, along with Chef de Cuisine Bobo Catoe, will take their creativity to Longoven in Scott's Addition to present Gregory's seafood-centric dishes to guests at Longoven.

Longoven, which opened in June 2018, focuses on seasonality and guest service. More details on this event, including menu, pricing and reservations will be released in the coming weeks.

Longoven: 2939 W. Clay St., Richmond


GBS + Golden Ticket = Complete GBS Variant Set Free

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Score a “golden ticket” and score a complete set

181016_Hardywood_047Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s legendary Gingerbread Stout (affectionately called GBS) and Christmas Pancakes goes on sale this Saturday, Nov. 3. The holiday-themed milk stout, enhanced with cinnamon, vanilla, local ginger and local honey, has been coveted by locals and out-of-towners alike since it was first released in 2011. And especially since it scored a perfect 100 on Beer Advocate. And since it medaled at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012. And since … 

As if the popular beer isn’t enough, Hardywood has been cranking out variants, too, like Bourbon Barrel GBS, Rum Barrel GBS and Christmas Morning.

When sales open on Saturday, five select cases of Hardywood Gingerbread Stout will contain a Golden Ticket redeemable for a GBS: The Complete Set ($175 value). GBS: The Complete Set promptly sold out again this year, so these are quite the prize.

What’s in the complete set for 2018, you ask?

Gingerbread Stout

Christmas Pancakes (with maple syrup)

Bourbon Barrel GBS

Port Barrel GBS (exclusively packaged for the Complete Set, only available on draft in the taprooms)

Rye Barrel GBS

Apple Brandy GBS

Christmas Morning

Caliente GBS (GBS with cacao nibs and peppers – a new for 2018 variant)

Kentucky Christmas Morning

Mega GBS (Hardywood’s Cassowary imperial milk stout with plenty of ginger, honey, cinnamon, vanilla – a new for 2018 variant)

Double Barrel GBS (aged in bourbon barrels and brandy barrels – exclusively packaged for the Complete Set, only available on draft in the taprooms)

Golden Tickets can be found in purchased to-go cases of Gingerbread Stout (cases contain 12 500 mL bottles), available at the Richmond, West Creek or Charlottesville breweries on Nov. 3.


Jackson Kayaks Come to Life

Active & Adventurous - Outdoors

On Tennessee waters or closer to home, Jackson kayaks go deep

Eric_Jackson_geared_to_goSure, any manufactured object is just a thing, especially if it’s mass-produced, not even custom or handmade. But after I met Eric “EJ” Jackson, Jackson Kayak products seemed to be imbued with a spark of life. After some fellow travel writers and I got a personal tour of his production facility plus a kayak demo on the Caney Fork River in Rock Island State Park – including a 360-degree flip off a rock overhang – his products were infused with even more spirit.

Founded in 2003 by Eric Jackson and Tony Lunt, Jackson Kayak designs, builds and manufactures whitewater, fishing and exploration paddle-sports products. The business was a natural extension of Jackson’s professional career as a champion freestyle kayaker (including wins in Men’s Pro World championships, Men’s Pro Pre-World Championships, Men’s Pro, and USA Team appearances in the Olympics. Jackson states, “I have won over 100 events, the most of any kayaker in history,” but then adds, “much has to do for how long I have been doing it!” 

Jackson_Kayak_1So clearly, Eric Jackson knows what makes a high-performing kayak. However, his young son provided initial creative fodder for Jackson Kayak. At the time, no kayak manufacturer made kayaks small enough for preschool-age kids, so Jackson filled that niche – and products such as Rockstar XS and the Fun still provide an early start for a young kayaker. He expanded his product line, adding a diversity of groundbreaking products along the way: in response to a consumer’s request, he built a craft for kayakers with a little extra bulk; by request and based on another EJ Jackson interest, he created the first fishing-focused kayak, with a raised seat, enough stability for standing up (to reel in that whopper of a fish), and other features specifically geared for fishing. The JK line even includes a pontoon-style, twin-hull fishing kayak. 

Eric_Jackson_Big_RigThen there’s the latest: if you see someone fishing from a kayak, navigating their craft with paddles, pedals and an engine, that’ll be a Jackson Kayak Big Rig HD FD. You might even notice that the pedals and engine can be rotated in and out, and that the rig is designed to move automatically out of harm’s way if the boat scrapes bottom or encounters debris. Or maybe you will be that trendsetter, turning heads on the water. 

The factory tour showed off an impressive display of efficiency (among the machines and among the employees), with multiple quality-control checks. Seeing kayaks in various stage of production and inventory ready to ship, I found it easy to imagine that one of them would one day be mine.

The Jackson Kayak production facility also manufactures sturdy Orion coolers (with creative, utilitarian features such as bottle openers, sturdy handles, locking mechanisms and padded lid (you know, for sitting on the cooler). 

Eric_Jackson_on_waterAs we spent the morning with Eric Jackson, his energy and fitness reminded me of his many championships. As he demonstrated his kayak along the falls and the rapids, he also demonstrated the benefits of following one's passions in life.

Jackson's schedule was a testament to the success of his business – besides meeting with our group of writers, he greeted a politician who had come to visit the factory and was between sessions of filming for a Casio commercial. His enthusiasm and passion hinted at the reasons for his continued success, as did his commitment to his adopted Tennessee community and his employees (“It’s the best place in the world to live,” he says). He even showed up at the Blues & Brews Festival in Cookeville a few days later.

If you’re looking for a kayak, for fishing or paddling, whose story goes deeper than “just” high performance, check out Jackson Kayak. Since the website directs shoppers to nearby vendors, you’ll be supporting your community, too.


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