Crafted Stories and Beers

A storyteller’s journey through Virginia’s beer history.

In October, Lee Graves published Virginia Beer: A guide from Colonial Days to Craft’s Golden Age, a book detailing the history of beer of Virginia. Known as the Beer Guy from his time as a beer columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch, Graves is also the author of Richmond Beer: A History of Brewing in the River City and Charlottesville Beer: Brewing in Jefferson’s Shadow.

In his newest book, Graves suggests several origin stories of Virginia beer—ranging from the beginning of civilization when people first started to making alcohol to a gathering of brewers in Richmond in 2012—unraveling the rest of the history from there and interweaving stories from personal experiences with Virginia breweries, instructions on tasting and appreciating beer, and descriptions of the vibrant craft beer culture.

In researching for the book, Graves visited more than 150 breweries, tasting four to six beers per brewery to get a better sense of their culture. In his travels, he also discovered stories such as that of Peter Hemings, a slave who was trained by a professional brewer from London during the Colonial period and went on to make a business growing hops.

“From people new to beer to your average beer geeks,” he says, “I wanted to create a guide that would make beer more accessible to people across the spectrum.”

Virginia Beer: A guide from Colonial Days to Craft’s Golden Age is available at retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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