Cape Charles Brewing and the Renaissance of Virginia's Eastern Shore


Recently celebrating their fourth anniversary on June 14, CAPE CHARLES BREWING COMPANY came into existence during 2018. Just up the block from the beachy romantic Eastern Virginia seashore, this unique blue collar family-owned pub features not only fine beers and worthy seafood, burgers and sandwiches, but also an array of outdoor activities at its grain siloed farmland.

Utilizing reclaimed wood for its cabin-fronted exterior and cement-floored interior, there are plank wood tables and metal chairs complemented by hanging metal rimmed lighting and white-walled side paneling at the L-shaped bar. A round orange and green-hued Cape Charles Brewing signpost hangs off the back wall leading to the brewroom (with canning line and large tanks). Three tap stations offer around a dozen well-designed homemade brews, many of which were simply stylistically straightforward.

Besides having a charming beach-chaired outdoor space with helmet-like firepit, there’s also a life-sized chess table and plastic furnishings near the trees.

We sat outside on the metal-furnished patio to absorb each draught available during a sunny Friday afternoon, August ’22.

Three flagship beers lead the charge, including Ol’ Reliable, a crisply clean dry helles lager with polite grain breading (named for the Reliable Hardware store CCBC refurbished).

Next year-rounder, classic West Coast IPA, Cobb Island, retained a soft-toned grapefruit rind and orange pith bittering tempered by herbal wood-dried earthiness.

Better still, tropical New England IPA, Assateque Island, gathered pine-lacquered orange-peeled grapefruit bittering, zesty pineapple-mango-peach tanginess and perfumed floral spicing over sugary pale malts, resembling a juicy fruit bouquet.

For its lightest bodied offering, aluminum clear pilsner, Paramore Island, let spritzy lemon zest and cereal grain sugaring reach its white bread base.    

One of Cape Charles’ most successful brews, dry pilsner-malted Nor’easter Pale Ale buttressed its dank orange oiling with French bread buttering and remote vegetal herbage.

Basic moderate-bodied hefeweizen, Heff N Fairytale, nearly outdid its stylistic banana-clove-coriander sugaring and sweet orange peel tanginess with sassy lemon zest, picking up mild herbage above honeyed wheat wisps.

Tart blood orange salting consumed Berliner Weiss, Blood-Orange Phunk, leaving lemon-candied sourness atop the floury white wheat bed.

Mocha-bound English dark ale, Puddle Pirate Porter, maintained confectionery caramel-toffee sugaring, hazelnut coffee milking and toasted coconut snip contrasting black peppered earthiness and blackened hop char.

Briny oyster shelling grazed the black chocolate syruping, burnt coffee bittering and earthen truffle soiling of Smith Island Oyster Stout. For the lovely bourbon-barrel aged version, dry bourbon whiskeyed sherry tones gained mild burgundy licks and dried cherry snips over sweet caramelized chocolate malts.

On April ’23 revisit, ate brioche-bunned Rockfish Sandwich with four previously untried beers.

Dry amber graining and mild citrus spicing gained phenol hop fizzing for Buoy 36 A, a modest Irish red ale.

Sedate candi-sugared dried fruiting and rummy daiquiri sublimity caressed Bayside Belgian Farmhouse Ale, a nifty saison with acrid barnyard must.

Dry bourbon-burgundy wining and Scotch whiskeyed chocolate malts sidled the dark rum sugaring of Coconut Rum Barrel Porter, letting its toasted coconut adjunct stay submerged alongside wispy almond-pecan snips.

Another barrel aged full body, Barrel Aged Bourbon Stout, let mellow oaken vanilla-laced Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey saturate its dark chocolate syruping and pureed dark cherry.