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By Jeff Maisey
The 30 independent craft breweries counting themselves as members of the recently formed Coastal Virginia Brewery Alliance (CVBA) are hosting a party and everyone is invited.
On Saturday, June 29 at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens in Norfolk, the Alliance will present a festival featuring unique beers, live music, food, games and more in a unique showcase specific to the region.
Porter Hardy IV, president of Smartmouth Brewing Company and this year’s president of CVBA, shares his insights in the following interview with Veer Magazine.
VEER: What is the primary mission of the Coastal Virginia Brewery Alliance?
Porter Hardy: The CVBA’s mission is to promote Coastal Virginia breweries, both in a unified marketing voice but also as a liaison to the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Guild or to local governments, and to provide a forum for all of the local brewery owners to get together and share expertise, quash any drama and just have a beer together. We believe that having a strong local association is not only good for the breweries but also the local economy and tourism.
VEER: An alliance is generally formed in opposition to something. What is CVBA rallying against?
PH: Good question. It is not really rallying against anything and it is more of a positive alliance promoting good mojo. To be honest, I think we just liked the sound of alliance over association or other more standard names.
VEER: How important is it for the breweries to brand themselves as a Coastal Virginia operation?
PH: Well, I think that most of in the CVBA (which is over 90% of the local breweries, a really high rate for any association) sell most of our beer in Coastal Virginia and are deeply rooted in the local scene. So, it is pretty important to most, if not all, of us to be seen as a part of Coastal Virginia.
VEER: What makes Coastal Virginia breweries unique from other parts of the Commonwealth?
PH: In my own opinion, so possibly others in the group may disagree, I think that Coastal Virginia really has its own distinct vibe from the rest of the state. We obviously are heavily influenced by the water here both recreationally and commercially (including the military). Also, though, I don’t think any other part of the state has the sort of co-equal status of our seven cities and all of the good and bad issues that brings to our region. I also think we make some of the best beer in the state and, frankly, don’t get the recognition we deserve. There is a ton of great beer coming out of our corner of the state. Finally, on a brewery level we all get along very well, which is not uncommon with breweries but I feel like we are particularly good about it here.
VEER: How did the festival come together and why did the CVBA Board feel it is important to present a branding/educational event?
PH: Since we began talking about the alliance, it has been central to come out with a festival that was put on by the breweries and not controlled by anyone else. This is our festival where we can bring any beer we want and are encouraging our members not to bring any core/flagship beer. There will also be a brewer’s Olympics that anyone can participate in and music, crafts and all sorts of fun stuff. But really, this is our chance to put our own stamp on a festival.
VEER: Many regions have an official brewery trail developed by their tourism/visitor center. Does CVBA plan to establish an official brewery trail?
PH: We have not developed one yet, but it is something we are definitely looking into.