PHOTO: There are countless stellar craft brews to choose from in Virginia Beach. (photo via Flickr/Adam Barhan)
Virginia Beach, Virginia is much more than a premier summer destination. The independent coastal city has recently transformed into a craft beer haven.
A number of craft breweries have popped up in recent years, and visitors have no shortage of unique concoctions to choose from.
While travelers shouldn't need any additional reasons to tour Virginia Beach, these five local craft beers will have you planning a trip in no time. Just don't leave your growler at home.
Where: Reaver Beach Brewing Company
If you're a true hop lover, you can't leave town before sampling "Hoptopus" from Reaver Beach Brewing Company. This double IPA packs a punch at 8.8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and clocks in at 108 on the International Bitterness Units (IBU) scale. The bold brew pours a golden color and greets your nostrils with a citrusy aroma.
Be prepared for some lingering bitterness, though.
Hoptopus is available year-round at Reaver Beach's taproom, which is open six days a week. Visitors are likely to fall in love with other beers here as well, including the Jolly Roger pumpkin porter, which is available on a seasonal basis in the fall.
Where: Commonwealth Brewing Company
Another double IPA with a whole lot to offer, Commonwealth Brewing Company's "Big Papi" is a must-try while in Virginia Beach. Coming in at 8 percent ABV and just 61 on the IBU scale, this IPA won't overwhelm you with bitterness but it will have your taste buds dancing thanks to the tropical notes. And if you enjoy Big Papi, be sure to sample its little brother, an IPA called "Papi Chulo."
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One of the best things about Big Papi is drinking it inside Commonwealth's super-inviting tasting room or outdoor Biergarten. It's open for beer enthusiasts to explore seven days a week.
Where: Pleasure House Brewing
Pleasure House Brewing is practically overflowing with delicious brews made in-house, but perhaps none more refreshing than "Glo" Belgian Blonde Ale. This sweet and spicy award-winning beer checks in at 7.5 percent ABV and 31 on the IBU scale. It pairs excellently with just about any food, so you'll probably want to get a 64-ounce growler fill to go.
Queen Anne's Revenge
Where: Back Bay Brewing Co.
Back Bay Brewing Co.'s "Queen Anne's Revenge" is an imperial stout aged in rum barrels over the course of an entire year. This pitch black brew is smooth at just 15 on the IBU scale but is hefty in alcohol content at 10 percent ABV.
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Sharing a name with Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge boasts notes of cocoa and vanilla bean, as well as a hint of fruit.
If stouts or barrel-aged beers aren't your favorites, Back Bay offers a handful of other beers and brews new ones year-round to keep visitors on their toes.
Where: Wasserhund Brewing Company
Wasserhund Brewing Company specializes in German style beers with a beach influence, and the "German Shepheweizen" is a wheat beer originating in south Germany. Banana and clove aromas dominate this brew, which features a sweetness and slight bitterness. At 5.9 percent ABV and 20 on the IBU scale, wheat beer lovers can easily enjoy two or three German Shepheweizens while they wash down some artisan pizza and beer pretzels.