“People want something different for a change, and that audience is being catered to locally by places like the Cellar, Blacksburg Taphouse and 622 North,” said O’Keefe. “Students are grabbing onto these microbrewed beers, and genuinely have an interest in something better than what’s been offered for years in the past.”
O’Keefe said that successful bars have knowledgeable staff members who can point the customer to something new and different.
That’s exactly what the owners of Blacksburg Taphouse Joe Nazare and Dave Powell want when customers come to their new restaurant. The restaurant, which entertained a soft opening two weeks ago, prides itself on great local food and a rotating selection of 33 beers on tap.
“Craft beer is exploding in this country,” Powell said. “We want to offer our customers the best possible beer with the best possible food.”
Blacksburg Taphouse will operate differently from other bars in town, Powell said. “We want new and different stuff to keep people interested,” Nazare said. The Taphouse is hoping to “cater to the Blacksburg crowd that wants something better that what’s out there already,” Nazare said.
“There are so many great beers out there. Why pigeonhole yourself into six or seven beers?” Powell said.
Restaurants aren’t the only ones capitalizing on this surge of beer. Brew Do festival, taking place this Saturday, offers a selection of over 100 beers from over 40 different breweries — some as distant as Hawaii.
“There are so many beer offerings and we want them here in Blacksburg,” Diane Akers, president of Blacksburg Partnership, said. “They’re popular in the restaurants and at the festival.”
The festival has taken off since its inception in 2008, which only hosted 1,000 attendees. This year, organizers are expecting over 5,000 attendees, an increase which Ackers attributes to the growing number of breweries and growth in the opportunities to try new beer locally.
“There wasn’t anything like it in the New River Valley,” Akers said. “We wanted to have a signature event that brings together people in the community and draws people in from outside the area to showcase what Blacksburg has to offer.”
As the culture is changing, so are the attitudes toward beer.
"It's just great to see how much it's grown," said O'Keefe. "And there's so much more room for it to continue growing."