NFK’s Guide to Breweries in Norfolk

by | Apr 8, 2021

Norfolk’s love affair with beer is a long-established one (there were over a dozen breweries in town pre-prohibition), but since 2012 the craft brewing scene has exploded. OGs like Smartmouth and O’Connor have become hubs for local culture. Smaller neighborhood breweries like Rip Rap and Benchtop are always warm and welcoming. Cova and Bold Mariner are bringing new energy to Ocean View just steps away from the beach. Newer additions Makers Craft and Elation have found their own niche attributes with things like cigars and in‑house food menus.

Smartmouth Beer

Smartmouth is located in the heart of Chelsea and a hub of local culture with consistent programming. Their staple beers are practically required drinking for Norfolk natives. Their limited-edition brews are coveted across the country. Recently, they’ve opened up ‘the Warehouse’ which serves as a small music venue. It sure seems like they can do it all. 

O’Connor Brewing Co.

The big dog of Norfolk breweries, O’Connors anchors the railroad district. They’re the most highly distributed of Norfolk breweries, so you can find them far from home. Their home base in Norfolk hosts festivals seemingly every other weekend in the warm months. Any given Saturday, you’ll find thousands of locals packing out OBC. Particular highlights are the El Guapo Agave IPA and the annual O’Connoroo festival. 

Benchtop Brewing Company

Award-winning recipes and a homey atmosphere make Benchtop feel like you’re hanging at your best friend’s house. They release limited-stock beers frequently, so it’s always a fresh experience. Also, they have an affinity for robotic squirrels on their packaging. 

The Veil Brewing Co.

This award-winning Richmond-based brewery arrived in Norfolk in 2019 and brings an energetic selection of beers with an equally thrilling food menu from the team at Norfolk foodie favorite Codex.

Cova Brewing Company

Combine modern aesthetics and a full coffee bar and you get one of Ocean View’s newest premier hangout spots for any time of the week.  Their ultra-cool self-serve tap setup gives patrons the choice between craft beer, wine, and even housemade hard seltzer. 

Rip Rap Brewing Co.

Started and run by “coasties,” their spot is small but always welcoming. They’ve been serving up some interesting flavors over the years including pepper ales and a piney saison. Rip Rap is also a great brewery for the DDs, the on-call, and the sober among us as they serve a non-alcoholic ginger beer. 

Elation Brewing

North Colley’s newest addition has its own kitchen and is always serving up something good. While their menu has been rotating greatness since they opened, their recently announced partnership with Chelsea Bakehouse is about to fill North Colley with wood fire smoked delectables. 

Maker’s Craft Brewery

Located off of Church and 23rd St, Maker’s features an in-house cigar shop and a huge yard for outdoor activities that entice a diverse crowd from across the city.

The Bold Mariner Brewing Company

Formerly located in the Lambert’s Point neighborhood near ODU, Bold Mariner set their sights closer to the coast and moved to Ocean View to become its first brewery. They’ve got a strong kinship with the area’s military presence as well. Bar‑Q is their in-house barbecue joint.

Reaver Beach Brewing Company

Reaver Beach started their brewing journey in Virginia Beach, but they’ve made the big move to expand into Norfolk. They’ve done extensive renovations to a historic post office in North Colley to create a really engaging space. They’ve brought their tasty IPAS and sours, as well as, a ton of big vibes. With a strong track record and an impressive space, they’re well set to become a Norfolk favorite. 

Paul Stetson Rice

Chelsea, NFK

Paul is the creator of He was born and raised in Norfolk, graduated from Virginia Tech, and narrowly avoided law school. Chat with him about economics, entrepreneurship, hip-hop, and hiking. When he's not working on five different projects, you'll catch him sharing a beer with friends at a local brewery. Go Hokies!

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