Norfolk is home to the world’s largest Navy base and is the headquarters of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation – the Alliance’s only North American facility.
Norfolk, of course, is steeped in naval history. To get a complete overview, visitors can tour the Hampton Roads Naval Museum with Nauticus. The tour includes an opportunity to board the gigantic USS Wisconsin battleship docked right beside the museum. The Wisconsin saw battle in the Pacific fighting Japan. This connection is made stronger by including a visit just three blocks away to the MacArthur Memorial Museum, where the famed General Douglas MacArthur is entombed.
Now that you’ve satisfied your quest for World War II history, it’s time for a beer. Norfolk is the only city in Coastal Virginia where travelers can easily bike from brewery to brewery. This five-brewery tour is perhaps best explored by starting at Bold Mariner Brewing Company. The brewery is owned and operated by two active duty military guys and their wives. Beers to try: Bold Dominion Ale and Red Maiden Irish Red.
Next we recommend heading to O’Connor Brewing Company. Like Bold Mariner, O’Connor is located in an industrial area but within two blocks of the trendy neighborhood of Ghent. O’Connor is the region’s largest brewery and it features an enormous tasting room. Check their website for events as they have numerous. We highly recommend several of their beers including El Guapo Agave IPA, Norfolk Canyon Pale Ale, Great Dismal Black IPA, and whatever seasonal they offer in the tasting room.
From O’Connor, make your way over to Rip Rap Brewing Company. This snug brewery is owned and operated by two members of the Coast Guard who share a passion for beer. Highly recommended is the Wandering Sloth Saison.
A quick ride over the railroad tracks will bring you to Coelacanth Brewing. This brewery is located within the Ghent Business District in a converted warehouse surrounded by restaurants. Coelacanth focuses on malt-forward brews. Beers not to miss: Coelia (Rosemary Lemon Wheat), Holla Bock (Traditional German Bock) and CBPB (Traditional British Bitter style).
You’ll complete your Tour de Norfolk at Smartmouth Brewing Company in the Chelsea neighborhood. Smartmouth’s sleek, modern tasting room offers a view of a giant copper brewing kettle. Beers not to miss include Notch 9 Double IPA, Rule G India Pale Ale, Alter Ego Saison, and the seasonal on tap.
After your Norfolk brewery tour, we highly recommend a stroll over to the nearby bar called The Birch, named one of the Top 5 beer destinations in America. Dinner and a nice selection of beers can be had next door at Tortilla West.