While returning from the Outre Banks, we decided to spend the night in Norfolk, with the Virginia Zoo in one mind; the #VABreweryChallenge in the other. The Zoo is rather impression, primarily from it's botanical gardens, as our the two breweries we visited afterwards. Both are in located in the same proximity in the Ghent and Chelsea neighborhoods which made travel between the two very easy with theCompass Winery Brewery Distillery Locator. O'Connor Brewing Co. is the larger and older of the two; with owner/brewer Kevin O'Connor learning the brewing and wholesale side of the trade at St. George Brewing Company and Specialty Beverage. I've been a long time fan of their El Guapo Agave India Pale Ale as I've been able to aquire a bottle here and there. Just enough agave to make it interesting. For a summer ale, the Green Can is a solid light bodied ale; as is the Norfolk Canyon Pale Ale - the medium hops provide a mellow finish. For a stronger beer and a bit of history try the Great Dismal Black IPA - I remember riding on the outskirts along Route 17 long ago.
Smartmouth Brewing Co opened two years after O'Connor in 2012 in the Chelsea neighborhood. The brewery hits a range of styles from German to Belgium to American and the first I saw was a low 2.5 % abv Berliner Weisse. Tart and refreshing. On the other side of the spectrum was the Hive Mind Barrel-Aged Honey Saison. Aged in used Chardonnay barrels, the beer has a creamy texture, with a slight sweet spot balanced by some spice. Quite nice. For the less adventurist, the Safety Dance Pilsner is slightly hoppy and refreshing and the hops head will like the Bandwagon 4.0 IPA single hopped with El Dorado. They joined the bandwagon. Well played Smartmouth. Cheers.