Another year for craft beer in Roanoke area

Another year of beer: Craft breweries seemed to pop up everywhere in the Roanoke area and across the Commonwealth in 2017. Last year alone, this region saw the openings of Ballast Point Brewing Company in Botetourt County, the Star Hill Pilot Brewery in Roanoke, Deschutes tasting room in downtown Roanoke, Olde Salem Brewing in downtown Salem, and Big Lick Brewing Company’s beer garden opened up.  So much happened on the beer scene in 2017, and it looks to be the same for 2018 and 2019.

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Three Notch’d is expected to open in Roanoke in 2019.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company

Downtown Roanoke will see a new brewery this year! In late November, Charlottesville based Three Notch’d Brewery announced they would bring a 3,500 square foot brewery and collab. house to Roanoke. They already have four other locations: Two in Charlottesville, one in Richmond, and one in Harrisonburg. According to a statement by the brewery, construction begins this fall and doors will be open late spring of 2019.

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Ober Brewing expects to open in early 2018.

Ober Brewing Company

In Salem, a third brewery is set to open its doors in 2018.  According to its website, Ober Brewing plans to open in January of this year. On their website, they list five beers with fun names like “Appalachian Mama American Amber Ale” and “Hanging Rock Pilsner”.  Ober Brewing was given the greenlight by Salem city leaders in late July, when they voted to allow microbreweries in industrial areas. Ober Brewing has since converted an old warehouse into a brewery.

A Few Old Goats Brewing

A Few Old Goats Brewing announced last year they would be setting up shop in the West End Flats at the edge of the Old Southwest Neighborhood and the West End Neighborhood in 2018. In mid-December, the Roanoke Planning and Development board gave them the approval to move forward with their brewing plans. In October, I had a chance to meet with the friends who are starting up this brewery and take a look at their space. It was a lot of fun and the three friends who plan to open the brewery are hoping to have it open by March.

Check out this video I made showing the future location of AFOG.

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Jobs, jobs, jobs headed to Roanoke

IMG_5171 2017 was the year of big jobs announcements in Roanoke. It seemed as if Governor Terry McAuliffe was in town every other day doing a big jobs announcement. More jobs in any community is a good thing! If you think you may be on the job hunt within the next few years in Roanoke, you may have more options than there are now.

Here are some of the big economic stories that happened in 2017:

  • Virginia Tech Carilion Breaks Ground on Biomedical Research Expansion
  • Humm Kombucha: Will Invest $10 Million and Create 50 Jobs
  • Appalachian Power: Will hire 102 people and expand offices downtown
  • Altec Industries: Announces $30 Million Expansion, 180 New Jobs
  • Powerschool: Will add 96 jobs and move into Franklin building

More recently Atlantic Credit and Finance announced a $4 million expansion, adding 115 jobs to downtown Roanoke.

Here’s to hoping 2018 will be another big year for jobs announcements!

Read more economic development news here.

Review: Olde Salem Brewing Company

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We recently checked out one of the newest breweries to join the beer scene here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge region: Olde Salem Brewing Company. The brewery opened up at the end of November in downtown Salem. The brewery renovated an old building that according to the brewery’s website was an appliance store for a very long time. The feel of the renovated space is historic and the chandeliers remind me of medieval times. I loved all of the exposed brick. There is something just fun about being in a renovated historic building, especially a brewery. I think it adds a ton to the already cute downtown Salem and I think they chose an excellent location.

IMG_8731The day we went, the place was PACKED. There was a good mix of people of all ages, everyone eager to check out the new brewery. We didn’t have to wait very long for a beer and the person behind the counter was very helpful and helped us choose what we wanted.

The beers were great and although the place was pretty full, the vibe was chill. The only thing I didn’t like was when we were there they weren’t offering flights just yet. But in their defense, we went only a few days after they first opened their doors.

Check them out:

Olde Salem Brewing Company

21 E Main Street

Salem, VA, 24153

Email: maggie@oldesalembrewing.com

Visiting the Mill Mountain Star

IMG_9030The Mill Mountain star is probably the first thing that will come up if you are new to the Roanoke area/visiting and searching for something to do.

Going up to the star was one of the first things I did when I moved here. It’s also become the place I bring all my out of town guests. Many people say they are surprised the star is so big because it looks so small from far away. If you’ve never visited the star, it’s definitely worth the trip.

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View of the mountains from Mill Mountain Star.

It takes no time at all to drive up to it and the views are stunning. There is a sign that helps you identify which mountains you are seeing and you can see the whole city from that single spot. I recommend checking out the star both during the day and at night. Both experiences are stunning and entirely different. During the day you can see the panoramic view of the mountains, but at night the twinkling lights of the city down below are just breathtaking.

Roanoke Tourism leaders say the star is the areas “must-see spot when visiting the region”.

Here is some history from the Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge website:

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Stunning views at night from the Mill Mountain Star.

“The Roanoke Star was constructed in 1949 and was meant to serve as a seasonal Christmas decoration for the holiday shopping season. The star was illuminated for the first time on November 23, 1949. Through its 65 years, the Roanoke Star has become synonymous with the region and is still one of the most talked about and recognizable icons of Virginia.”

If the weather is nice, plan to spend some time up there. There are two outlook spots that are connected with a trail and a playground for the kids and a bathroom. The Mill Mountain Zoo is within walking distance also at the top of the mountain with stunning views. You can make a whole day of it!

If you get the chance, plug this address into your GPS and check out the star: 2198 Mill Mountain Spur Roanoke, VA 24014

 

Brunch review: Famous Toastery in Roanoke

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We recently checked out one of the newest breakfast spots in the Roanoke area called Famous Toastery. It’s a franchise restaurant located in the Keagy Village shopping center on 5010 Keagy Road in Roanoke. It opened in early December.

We went on a Sunday morning looking for some brunch. It was pretty packed but we were able to be seated right away. The first thing we were told was “every server is your server”. We weren’t entirely sure what that meant, but the concept ended up working in our favor because we had a lot of people checking in on us and made sure we had everything we needed.

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Complimentary cornbread and apple butter.

The menu is expansive and the prices are reasonable with each meal costing on average around $10 each. One side of the menu features breakfast items and the other offers lunch options. The breakfast choices include your typical items like eggs, potatoes, omelets, pancakes, and bacon. The lunch side offers salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. I was pleased with the variety of vegetarian options.

While we were deciding on what to eat, a server brought us a plate of complimentary cornbread and apple butter. It was absolutely delicious! We gobbled it up and a server brought us more.

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Burrito with homemade salsa

I ordered the burrito with homemade salsa: eggs tomatoes, onions, peppers, cheddar all wrapped in a tortilla and salsa. Potatoes did not come with the meal so I ordered a side of potatoes. The burrito was very tasty and the little bowl of salsa was perfect to dip it in. The breakfast potatoes were fine, they reminded me of the potatoes my mom makes at home. I just prefer my potatoes to be a little crispier.

My dining partner ordered two fried eggs, bacon, white toast, grits, and pancake on the side. He loved it! It hit the right spot for him. We shared the pancake. It was fluffy, covered in powdered sugar, and I would definitely recommend it.

IMG_5056The service was awesome. We were impressed that as we were ordering the food our server was inputting our order onto a tablet that was sent to the kitchen in real-time. I’ve been at restaurants before where the server forgets to put the order into the computer, this would be impossible here! It probably cuts down on mistakes on the orders because the order is going straight from the customer’s mouth to the server’s ear and straight to the tablet.

The decor was bright and airy with large windows on one side. The vibes and energy were great.

I highly recommend the Famous Toastery in Roanoke.

Want to go?

The Famous Toastery: 540-595-7027

5010 Keagy Road, Suite E200 Roanoke, Virginia, VA 24018

Check out their menu here.

Waterfall hike: Roaring Run Falls is a great Autumn hike

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If you ever want to go on a waterfall hike but don’t feel like working too hard to get there, then Roaring Run Falls hike in Eagle Rock, Virginia is your answer. It is just a 40-mile drive from Roanoke. It’s a beautiful drive through Botetourt County. No need to worry about a parking fee, parking is free! It’s pretty easy to find via GPS and signs will guide you toward the parking lot. When you first arrive, you’ll be greeted by a sign and a set of restrooms (always good to know if there are restrooms!)

IMG_6003As far as the hike goes, you will be faced with a sign that offers three options:

  • You can go left toward Iron Ore Junction Hoop Trail (3 miles each way)
  • Straight to the streamside trail to the falls (.6 miles each way)
  • Right to see the Roaring Run Furnace

IMG_6120If you are taking it easy, I would recommend you go straight toward the Roaring Run trails. We went on this hike this past weekend and the autumn colors were still pretty stunning. The walk is along the Roaring Run stream is pretty easy. Before you know it you are at a small waterfall, where in the summer you’ll see families sliding down the rocks in their bathing suits. Then, if you climb some stairs you turn a corner and see the main attraction: Roaring Run Falls. The stream and the falls are beautifully framed by the fall foliage.

Before you leave be sure to check out the Roaring Run Furnace and read about the historical significance of it.

Want to go?

Here is the address to plug into your GPS: 450 Roaring Run Rd, Eagle Rock, VA 24085

Check out our slideshow of our trip:

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Want to learn how to brew your own beer?

22688317_1723377477735991_2649243375530334789_nA few years ago, I was at a friend’s house and his friend handed me a beer without a label on it. I looked at him confused, “What is this?” I asked. He explained to my husband and I that he had homebrewed his own amber beer. I sipped on it and it was the freshest and crispest beer I have ever had in my life. I was thinking, wow! It had never occurred to me that people actually brew their own beer at home. Isn’t that something that only people during prohibition did? Nope, it turns out, a lot of the brewery owners that are opening up microbreweries all across the country started out at home brewing their own beer.

I’ve never homebrewed, but that’s why an event press release caught my attention. Southern Hills Homebrew Supply is hosting their very own homebrew day event this weekend on Saturday, November 4.

The business says home brewing is easy and fun, that’s why they are partnering up with the Star City Brewers Guild to host an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Learn to Homebrew Day event.

It is free (something I always like to hear) and Learn to Homebrew Day is an international event held every year on the first Saturday of November, according to their press release.

“Since 1999, thousands of homebrewers have gathered each year to teach friends and family the basics of the home brewing hobby.” -Southern Hills Homebrew Supply

If you are interested stop by anytime from 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at their location: 5342 Franklin Rd SW Roanoke, VA 24014.

There will be free beer tastings, home brewing demonstrations, presentations by professional brewers, a recipe kit fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Southwest Virginia, and more! Proceeds from the sales of these kits from now through Learn to Homebrew Day are donated to our local CMHN hospital and remain local.

What’s better? You can even stick around to hear talks and Q&A sessions from the following local brewers:

  • Kevin Campbell, Head Brewer at Olde Salem Brewing Company
  • Caleb A Williamson, Owner and Head Brewer at Hammer & Forge Brewing
  • Company Ballast Point: Virginia Deschutes Brewery Duane Palmer
  • Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers Martin Keck
  • Owner and Brewer at Barrel Chest Wine And Beer

“Homebrewing is a lifelong hobby that inspires creativity, comradery and community,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association.

“These qualities are on full display during AHA Learn to Homebrew Day, as veteran and rookie homebrewers come together to educate and celebrate.”

I am definitely intrigued by this event. Who knows maybe I’ll go and fast forward 5 years and will opening my very own brewery. The possibilities are endless.

Click here for the Facebook event page.

 

Yoga Fest in Blacksburg

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Courtesy: In Balance Yoga FB page

Yoga to me means feeling good, mentally and physically. So whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi, what sounds better than a festival all about feeling good? In Balance Yoga is offering more than 25 free community yoga classes this weekend offered every hour and half hour from 10:00 am until 5:30pm (weekend of 11/3 – 11/5) for their first ever Free Kunga Yoga Festival and Fundraiser.

100% of all donations this weekend go to Homes of Hope Orphanage in India. What’s better than doing yoga? Doing it all for a good cause.

According to organizers, for every $100 raised a comfortable bed and mattress, and some colorful sheets will be purchased for the 9th Homes of Hope Orphanage in India located in Dimapur.

Here are some more perks to the festival:

Vegan Chili Cook Off
Raffles and Giveaways
Live Music
25% off all retail Friday – Sunday
New Member Specials – One Month for $30 for New Students
Special Pricing for our Current Family
Community Building

Newcomer Specials 11/3 – 11/5
Special #1 for New Students:
Kunga Yoga Fest Special – Newcomers One Month Unlimited $30 ($1 a day)
$10 in Yoga Bucks

Special #2 for New Students:
4 Classes for $20

Special #3 for Current Students:
New Monthly Auto – Debit Member: $90
Save $50 on your first month
$25 in Yoga Bucks

**Tentative Schedule – all classes Donation Based:
Fri., 11/3
7:30 – 8:30 pm Glow-ga (Glow-In-the-Dark Yoga)
7:30 – 8:30 pm Candle Renew & Restore
8:30 pm Kombucha Kunga Kick – Off

Sat., 11/4
10:00 – 11:00 am Basic Flow
10:30 – 11:30 am Kunga Hot Flow – Mix
11:30 – 12:30 pm Power Flow + Weights
12:00 – 1:00 pm Kunga Restorative Class
12:30 – 1:30 pm Vegan Chili Cook Off Judging
1:00 – 2:00 pm Flow
1:30 -2:30 pm Warm Flow
2:30 – 3:30 pm Flow
3:00 – 4:00 pm Yoga Basics
4:00 – 5:00 pm Aerial
4:30 – 5:30 pm Hot Flow – Set for Beginners
5:30 – 6:30 pm Restorative Aerial
5:45 – 6:35 pm Meditation

Sun., 11/5
10:30 – 11:30 am Hot Flow – Set for Beginners
11:00 – 12:00 pm Basic Flow
11:00 am KUNGA 2 Mile Fun Run
12:00 – 1:00 Yin – Kunga Deep Stretch
12:30 – 1:30 Broga (Yoga for Dudes)
1:30 – 2:30 pm Kunga Warm Flow
2:00 – 3:00 pm Barre + Pilates Combo
3:00 – 4:00 pm Flow with Live Music
4:00 – 4:50 pm Itsy Bitsy Yoga
4:30 – 5:30 pm Hot Flow – Mix
5:00 Kirtan + Create Your Own Prayer Flag

Here is more info from organizers:

“The dedication from yoga practitioners in the surrounding area has helped our studio grow and move into our expansion, and IBY can’t wait to give back to the community! Those who are new to yoga can try it commitment-free, and those who practice regularly can try a different style at no extra cost. In addition to free yoga classes, we will also feature raffles, giveaways, specials, 25% off on all retail, vegan cook-off and more.

Donating to Charity: This event is a fundraiser for Homes of Hope Orphanage in India. Donations will be accepted during Free Yoga Day, and anyone wishing to donate who cannot make it to this event may call IBY at (540) 961- 1030.”

Click here for the event’s FB page.

Humm Kombucha coming to Roanoke!

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There are a few things in life (besides working out) that make me feel like I have my life together and am living a healthy lifestyle. One is drinking fresh squeezed green juice and the other is drinking kombucha.

In case you are wondering what kombucha is if you haven’t jumped on the kombucha wagon yet, kombucha is a non-alcoholic fermented green or black tea that has several health benefits like aiding digestion and immune boosting, etc.

So I am a big fan of kombucha done right. So this afternoon, I was excited when I heard that a pretty big kombucha company “Humm Kombucha” based out of Bend, Oregon has chosen Roanoke to build their East Coast manufacturing facility. They will build their $10 million facility in the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology, according to a press release.

My hope is they also build a kombucha tap room, how cool would that be? I’m super excited that something as trendy as a kombucha brewer would choose Roanoke to locate here. I also love what the owners Michelle Mitchell and Jamie Danek said in a press release about why they chose Roanoke:

“Roanoke is filled with genuinely good people. They love Roanoke, have so much pride in where they live and many simply wouldn’t live anywhere else. Their outdoor amenities and culture are a huge part of their day to day. This environment and vibe is very similar to Bend. Aligning with a similar culture is a must to the ethos of our company. Combine that with Roanoke’s central location and the low cost of doing business there, and we’ve found the perfect second home for Humm.”

I love their description of the people of Roanoke having pride in where they live, because I know I have a ton of pride in living in this amazing city.

To celebrate the announcement today, I stopped by Target where Humm Kombucha is sold, so I could try it out. There were at least five flavors to choose from and I picked blueberry mint. It was a good choice because it was so good! Now I can’t wait to try more knowing I will be supporting a future Roanoke company.

With both Deschutes and Humm Kombucha coming here from Oregon because they love the vibe, it makes me think I would love the vibe in Bend, Oregon. Maybe I should visit soon!

Waterfall Hike: Stiles Falls is an easy hike to an amazing view

IMG_5720There is something about hiking to a waterfall that is so satisfying. Hiking is therapeutic in itself, but when the end reward is that you get to hang out next to a waterfall, that is the ultimate relaxing way to disconnect from our busy lives.

Since moving to Roanoke, I’ve made it my mission to complete all of the waterfall hikes in the area. So far I’ve visited Roaring Run, Cascades, and Crab Tree Falls (blog posts coming soon on those), but wanted to try out a new one. So I turned to the all-powerful Google to find my next waterfall adventure, that’s how I found Stiles Falls.

Stiles Falls is a 3-mile round trip hike in Shawsville, Virginia in Montgomery County about 50 minutes from Roanoke. It’s located on private property where Camp Alta Mons is located, so if camps are in session the hike is closed to the public. Luckily for me, in mid-October, camps aren’t a thing, so I was in the clear. Parking is free and when I first pulled up I was greeted by a very nice man who directed me where to park and explained the map and pointed out where the restrooms are located.

IMG_5677.JPGThe first half mile of the hike is through the camp, which felt uneventful. But right before the official trail starts I came to a clearing where the landscape opened up and revealed a beautiful picturesque view of the mountains along the horizon with dots of color as the fall foliage peeked in through the green leaves. It looked like a picture that should be on the cover of a calendar.

You don’t have to guess when you are about to get on the trail that will lead you to the waterfall because a sign greets you immediately with information about the trail. It informs you that the trail markings will be white, the trail crosses the creek 3 times, the trail ends with a rock scramble, and it warns to not climb above the trails.

IMG_5672Also included on the sign is a little information about how the falls were named. Apparently, Randy Stiles was a Confederate war soldier who was at a picnic at the falls and decided to show off a new skill of swinging from ship riggings by swinging on tree limbs and vines when … well, he fell to his death… and that is how the name Stiles Falls came to be. Kind of depressing, I know. But it definitely was a sobering moment of realization to be careful and not mess with nature to the point of being reckless.

Crossing over the creek was not difficult and there were obvious spots where to step, so I never got my feet wet once. The hike follows the trickling creek that spills over stacks of rocks, scenes almost begging you to stop and take pictures.

IMG_5821Toward the very end of the hike near the falls, it gets pretty steep. The rock scramble described on the sign is a very real thing,  but not that difficult to navigate. The view of the waterfall did not disappoint. At a 40 foot drop, the waterfall is smaller than other waterfalls you can hike to in southwest Virginia, but it was equally as beautiful. The pool below the waterfall was a swirling foamy aggregation of autumn leaves, a truly beautiful sight.

IMG_5717I had the whole area to myself and after I took all of the pictures I wanted to, I was able to just sit on one of the massive rocks and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the peaceful waterfall on a cool crisp afternoon.

The hike back was all downhill and went by fast.

If you are looking for an easy hike to a beautiful waterfall, I would highly recommend Stiles Falls.

You can even bring your dog, if it’s on a leash of course.

If you want to go here are some details:

Location: 2842 Crockett Springs Road, Shawsville, VA 24162
Phone: 540-268-2409, Facebook
Camp Days: Winter Camp is December 20-22, 2017. Stiles Falls will be closed from 2 PM December 20 until 3 PM December 22.

Click here for more information.

Check out my slideshow of pictures:

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Check out the video of my experience: