The fact that a Blue Ridge mountain town the size of Roanoke VA (population 99,411) has enough breweries to create an “8 Best Breweries” list tells you a lot about the city’s personality.
Roanoke has a vibrant downtown area with lots of great restaurants, museums, and market stalls, but beer is serious business here. There are a host of tasting rooms willing to welcome any and all avid beer drinkers who stop in for a visit.
There are also a couple of noteworthy stops in neighboring Salem VA, which are perfect places to finish off a day rooting for the Salem Red Sox or toasting to finishing the hike to McAfee Knob.
Included on our list you’ll find local upstarts, in-state expansion projects, and even an outpost for a highly-regarded West Coast craft brewery (apprently Asheville NC Breweries aren’t the only ones that draw big names).
Most of Roanoke’s tasting rooms don’t offer food menus, but many have food trucks nearby or allow food delivery.
The exception to that is Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery, which has a nice collection of pub food to go along with their top-notch’d beer.
Without further ado, here’s a look at the 8 Best Breweries in Roanoke VA for anyone with a hankering for microbrews and craft beer specialties (gose is very popular on the local menus).
READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Roanoke VA
Breweries in Roanoke VA Guide
- Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery
- Big Lick Brewing Company
- A Few Old Goats Brewing
- Golden Cactus Brewing Company
- Starr Hill Pilot Brewery and Side Stage
- Deschutes Roanoke Tasting Room
- Parkway Brewing Company
- Olde Salem Brewing Company
1. Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery
24 Campbell Ave SE • 540-492-5005 • threenotchdbrewing.com
Hours: Sun to Mon 11am-6pm; Closed Tue; Wed 11am -8pm; Thu to Sat 11am-10pm
Best Beer to Sample: 40 Mile IPA
Named for the historical Three Notch’d Road, which is less than a mile from the original brewery, Three Notch’d Brewing Company aims to leave its mark on craft beer.
This brewery opened in 2013 in Charlottesville VA, when three friends decided to collaborate and make some great beer.
They must have gotten it right, because now there are five locations. One of them is right in the heart of Downtown Roanoke, just a few steps from Center in the Square and the Historic Farmers Market.
The Roanoke Taproom is the newest of the Three Notch’d locations. It opened in 2018, serving up flagship beers as well as new releases every week.
Their Blackberry Gose is fantastic, as is the summer specialty known as Firefly Nights. It’s also worth ordering some food to go with the brews: think pub fare with a dash of culinary flair!
2. Big Lick Brewing Company
409 Salem Ave SW • 540-562-8383 • biglickbrewingco.com
Hours: Mon to Thu 4pm-9pm; Fri 2pm-10pm; Sat 1pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-8pm
Best Beer to Sample: Baggy Tights Scottish Export Ale
Another brewery located in the easy-walking section of Downtown Roanoke, Big Lick Brewery has an absolutely beautiful indoor space and expansive outdoor seating (a.k.a. the beer garden).
Big Lick (which is named for the historic town that grew into Roanoke) opened in the Fall of 2014, and has used its success to become a popular mainstay on the local beer scene.
The beer at this brewery tends to be a bit more experimental and quirky, but there are some fallback classics to enjoy for those who like to keep things simpler.
The beer menu keeps rotating as the seasons change, so ask the pourers what they recommend and go in for a flight.
3. A Few Old Goats Brewing
515 8th St. SW Ste. 228 • 540-339-9562 • afogbrewing.com
Hours: Mon 3pm-7-pm; Closed Tuesday; Wed-Thu 4pm-9pm; Fri 2pm-9pm; Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12:30pm-7pm
Best Beer to Sample: Goatmeal Stout
A Few Old Goats is in Roanoke, but on the western reaches of the city’s center. The new-ish Virginia brewery is rather oddly located in an apartment complex, which gives it a notable (and literal) neighborhood feel.
Opened in 2018 by four friends from the greater Cleveland area, Goats is basically a nano-brewery. They have just 2 barrels, so their flavors tend to rotate out pretty quickly.
Nevertheless, they keep 12 or more taps open most of the time, offering a fleet of Old Goat standards. These include red IPA, gose, cream ale, and stout, which they consider “a year-round beer!”
They don’t have food prepared on-site, but– as with many of the other breweries in Roanoke– outside food is welcome.
4. Golden Cactus Brewing Company
214 5th St. SW • 540-566-3071 • goldencactusbrewing.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 3pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm; Sun 1pm-8pm
Best Beer to Sample: Thistle Farmhouse Agave Saison with Saaz Hops
Located in a former Nehi Soda factory, Golden Cactus Brewing Company is across the street from Big Lick Brewing Company and across the parking lot from Tuco’s Taqueria.
Interestingly, Golden Cactus’s facility was devised by a top interior design class at Virginia Tech. So it is uniquely hip, and set up perfectly for live music.
The outside area might even be more inviting, with tons of color and plenty of well-spaced seating.
As their name suggests, interesting (sometimes desert-themed) tropical flavors such as agave, pineapple, mango, and margarita are often at play in the brews here.
The space is open to dogs, families, and lots of community. It feels like a place meant to be lingered in while nursing an afternoon beer… or possibly tasting quite a few!
5. Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage
6 Old Whitmore Ave • 540-685-2012 • starhill.com
Hours: Mon-Wed 3pm-9pm; Thu 3pm-10pm; Fri 12pm-10pm; Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 12pm-9pm
Best Beer to Sample: Northern Lights IPA
Set among the new developments near the foot of Mill Mountain, the Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage offers live concerts inside and great seating outside.
Starr Hill Brewery opened in the late 1990s, when Charlottesville native Mark Thompson moved back to Virginia with new knowledge of craft beer that he picked up in Oregon and Colorado (two bastions of the modern beer movement).
Their Roanoke taproom, which was established in 2017, was the brewery’s first satellite location. It operates as a research and development spot, as well as a venue to showcase local musicians.
Starr Hill now has six taprooms across the state of Virginia, so some of these suds must taste good!
6. Deschutes Roanoke Tasting Room
315 Market St. SE • 540-259-5204 • deschutesbrewery.com
Hours: Closed Monday; Tue-Thu 2pm-9pm; Fri 2pm-10pm; Sat 12pm-10pm; Sun 4pm-8pm
Best Beer to Sample: Black Butte Porter
A well-established favorite on the West Coast, Deschutes has been brewing since 1988, when it opened its first location in Bend, Oregon.
The brewery now puts out some 225,000 barrels of beer annually, and is available in over 30 states across the USA.
That being said, Roanoke is their East Coast hub, and home to the only Deschutes tasting room outside of Oregon.
Crafting beers to bring the community together and supporting sustainable practices have been important to the Deschutes way of business from the very beginning.
While the brewery offers a fleet of flavors to try, this company has some premium IPAs. It’s also established enough to have a “reserve series” for aficionados to dip into.
7. Parkway Brewing Company
739 Kessler Mill Rd (Salem) • 540-404-9810 • parkwaybrewing.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 2pm-8pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-9pm; Sun 12pm-8pm
Best Beer to Sample: Get Bent IPA
Recommended as the top spot to stop after hiking to McAfee Knob, the Parkway Brewing Company was founded in 2012 by two couples with big dreams.
It is technically located in Salem VA, which is essentially part of the larger Roanoke metropolitan area. So it gets a place on this list because, well, the more breweries the merrier!
Mike Pensinger, the company’s brewmaster, came with serious industry experience, having been a HomeBrew teacher, equipment distributor, and working at numerous other breweries. These include Hampton Roads Brewing, Hilltop Brewing Company, St. Georges Brewing Company, Williamsburg AleWerks, and the list goes on…
Named for the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, his company currently produces 22 different beers for the market, as well as several pilot batches that are exclusively available at the tasting room.
Different food trucks pass through to provide food on-site. There are also annual festival-like events, including the Oyster Roast and Pig Pickin’, to look out for.
8. Olde Salem Brewing Company
21 East Main St (Salem) • 540-404-4399 • oldesalembrewing.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 12pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-8pm
Best Beer to Sample: Jump German Pilsner
Another Salem-based Roanoke brewery, the Olde Salem Brewing Company is located inside a 100-year old building in the Historic Main Street district of Salem VA.
Though this place clearly loves history, it is a relatively new brewery, having opened in late 2018 under the guidance of owner Sean Turk and brewmaster Kevin Campbell.
Olde Salem prides itself on offering a wide variety of quality brews, including a Work Hard Play Hard Kolsch, Heartbroken in Disrepair Raspberry Wheat, Blind Man in the Dark Coffee Stout, and more.
Their line-up also includes sours (Suit and Tie, a seasonal “cherry cheesecake gose”) and a choice of hard seltzers.
Food trucks are available on the weekends and some weekdays, and several great restaurants offer take-out or will deliver to the tasting room (Frank’s Pizza delivers for free).
Now, is anybody else ready to grab a cold one in Roanoke? —by Jonathon Engels; all photos by Emma Gallagher unless otherwise noted