by MIKE HIXENBAUGH
Two decades before the craft beer explosion swept Hampton Roads, one of the nation’s most celebrated microbrews flowed from old dairy tanks in a tiny plant off London Bridge Road.
It was 1986, long before Sierra Nevada and New Belgium became staples on grocery store beer racks, and a 26-year-old Allen Young had just landed in Virginia Beach. He joined a ragtag group of beer lovers with radical plans to sell German-style specialty beers on the East Coast.
Together they started Chesapeake Bay Brewing Company and soon became rising stars in a fledgling industry, winning a gold medal in the inaugural Great American Beer Festival taste contest the very next year and establishing a cult following in the brew pubs of suburban Washington.
“We were like rock stars up there,” a more grizzled Young says now, recalling the response in D.C. after the little-known brewery unveiled its signature Chesbay Double Bock. “But down here – down the street from where we were actually making this stuff – we couldn’t get anyone to buy in. We were brewing a dark, malty beer in a strictly Budweiser kind of town.” Continue reading “Beer Reborn”