During yesterday's Got Plans? chat, a reader from Arlington wrote in to ask where they might find Starr Hill beers in the Washington area. I'm a fan of the Charlottesville-based microbrews, having tried them at local beer festivals and on trips to the University of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, but I hadn't seen it on tap in a while. This afternoon, I got a call back from Starr Hill brewer Mark Thompson, who has some very good news for Arlington and other beer-loving Hoos.
Starr Hill recently expanded its Crozet, Va., brewery, and now has the capacity to produce around 10,000 barrels a year, which is roughly double its 2005 output. As a result, the beer will be more readily available in Washington, though Thompson says Starr Hill is moving into the market gradually and patiently. "We've throttled [our distributors] back to five taps," Thompson explains. "We prefer a focused approach, rather than just loading the shotgun and seeing what sticks."
Five lucky restaurants in Arlington and Alexandria are currently pouring Starr Hill's signature Amber Ale, winner of a silver medal at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival: the Birchmere, Murphy's of Alexandria, Rustico, Stars and Stripes and the Union Street Public House. Of that quintet, I'd steer you toward the cozy Union Street or Rustico, where the 30 micro-centric taps are already developing a following of beer geeks.
If you'd rather sip your beers at home, Thompson says the Amber Ale and Jomo Lager (another 2005 GABF silver medal winner) will also be available at Total Beverage stores in the next few weeks.
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