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Richmond is the world’s top beer destination, according to Vinepair

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RICHMOND, Va. – The craft beer industry can raise their glasses high after Vinepair.com  just named Richmond, Virginia the number one beer destination in 2018 – in the world.

Going from a handful of breweries to at least 32 in the area, in less than 10 years, has certainly landed Richmond in a lot of headlines of national publications. In this latest article, written by Cat Wolinski, Richmond leads cities like Boise, Louisville, St. Louis, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Beijing, Madison, Chicago, and New York as the number one beer destination in the world.

The breweries that Wolinski mentioned in her article were An Bui’s Mekong and adjoining brewpub, The Answer, The Veil, Ardent Craft Ales, Triple Crossing, and Carytown’s Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery.

Wolinski, a Brooklyn-based beer and travel writer has posted in depth about her Richmond travels (she was here late December) on her blog, BeerAffair.com. She had a lot of praise for Garden Grove on her own website, where she wrote that the mead/sake and beer/wine hybrids “blow her mind.” She said that owner brewer Mike Brandt was “one of the most interesting people” she has ever met.

She also wrote in depth about her visit to Weezie’s Kitchen and Ardent Ales on her own site. She did write that Ardent Ales paved the way for the craft beer explosion in Scott’s Addition in 2014, though technically Isley Brewing was the first to open, in 2013.

Wolinski wrote that Triple Crossing was also one of her favorites.

She concluded her post about Weezie’s with a nod to the city’s quirky charm.

“You’re a weird place, Richmond, but I think I’m starting to like you,” Wolinski wrote.

A new economy for Virginia

According to 2017 statistics from the governor’s office, a recent economic impact study showed that the beer industry contributes more than $9.34 billion annually to Virginia’s economy. The state has seen a 468% growth in breweries/cideries since 2012. An economic impact report by the Beer Institute showed that the Virginia beer industry employed over 28,000 people in production, distribution, and retail, and contributed nearly a billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2016. Excise and sales taxes on beer consumption contributed another $280 million to Virginia’s tax rolls in 2016 and that number has only grown.

“Research tells us that craft beer is an increasingly powerful trip motivator, particularly among Millennial and GenX travelers,” said Jennifer Hendren, vice president of marketing with Richmond Region Tourism, who helped put Wolinski in touch with local brewers. “Overall, culinary tourism is a top tourism driver, and the RVA craft beer experience is a primary component of the Richmond region’s well-established and creative culinary scene.”

Hendren said breweries report that the Richmond Beer Trail, a collaboration with her office and Richmond Breweries United, has brought visitors to tasting rooms since it debuted in November 2016. It helps visitors map out their Richmond region craft beer adventure and collect some fun swag — hats, knit beanies, and bottle-opener sunglasses — along the way.

“So far, we’ve distributed almost 30,000 maps and nearly 11,000 Richmond Beer Trail swag items through the region’s brewery tasting rooms,” Hendren said.

“The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is so proud that the RVA Craft Beer community has been acknowledged as the #1 location by VinePair.com,” wrote Brett Vasey, Guild President. “We think that this acknowledgement of our members will encourage more craft beer tourism to the entire Commonwealth.”

Hendren added that not only is the Vinepair accolade exciting, the timing is perfect.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, also happens to be “National Plan for Vacation Day”  when the tourism industry reminds Americans, who leave a lot of unused vacation days on the table, to set aside time to plan their vacations for 2018.

“Of course, Virginia is for craft beer lovers and the Richmond region’s 30+ craft breweries make our destination a prime spot for the ultimate “beercation,’” Hendren said.

It’s not the first time that Richmond has been listed as a top destination. Richmond ranked #3 on Travel + Leisure’s list of Best Places to Travel in 2016— where they also mentioned craft beer, but not until the last line.