Champion Marks Six Months on Tap

Posted on June 25, 2013 by


As Champion Brewing Company opened its doors at 4 p.m. Friday, June 21, to offer its customers a reprieve from the first official day of summer heat, the brewery also was marking its six-month anniversary.

In the past six months, Champion has become a hub for the local food truck scene, a strong promoter of business collaborations, and a popular gathering spot for a wide variety of Charlottesville residents.

Hunter Smith, president and head brewer at Champion, said he took a conservative business approach when he opened the brewery’s doors on Dec. 21 and has been pleased with the reception it’s received.

“It’s as good as I’d hoped for,” Smith said.


Smith said he was optimistic about how people would respond to his craft brewing and has received a lot of positive feedback about the beer the brewery has on tap.

“That’s the part I’ve really been happy with,” he said, adding that he derives his creations through reading books, searching the Internet and, of course, drinking.

“Every time I go somewhere, I try to drink something I haven’t had before,” Smith said.

While Smith felt that his beers and the brewery concept would be successful in downtown Charlottesville, he was unsure of how people would respond to the absence of a food menu.

“I think one thing that surprised me was how people liked that we’re not a restaurant,” Smith said, noting that he knew the brewery would have to feed its customers somehow or they would go somewhere else.

So, in order to make sure its patrons don’t go hungry, Champion has been at the forefront of the food truck movement with local food vendors parked outside its doors several nights a week. On Thursdays, patrons will find a food truck court set up outside Champion with three to four vendors offering a variety of stomach pleasers, from pizza, pot pies and barbecue to Korean-style tacos and Southern-style sliders.

“I’ve always been a big proponent of food trucks,” Smith said. “It’s cool to be able to have some input and influence in coordinating events with those guys.”

“We’re creating a scene.”


Champion also has played a significant role in many business partnerships in the area.

The brewery has worked with Devil’s Backbone and Glass Haus Kitchen on past beer collaborations and is currently working with The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative and residents of Belmont to produce a Belmont Beer.

As part of the Belmont collaboration, local artists were invited to submit designs that will be used to market the beer. The winner of the design competition will be announced this Friday.

Smith said once the winner is picked, the next step will be to distribute ballots to businesses and residents in Belmont for input on what type of beer Champion should brew. The beer is expected to be available on tap on July 26.

Smith said the Belmont collaboration is just one of many projects the brewery is undertaking this summer.

A second pig roast with Ace Biscuit & Barbecue is set for July 6. Champion also will do another beer collaboration with Glass Haus Kitchen, as well as collaborations with Clifton Inn, Beer Run and Mas.

Champion will do its first collaboration with Blue Mountain Brewery with the final product expected to be on tap in late July or early August.

“We like to have something going on every weekend,” Smith said.

Champion also is working on a beer garden set to be complete by mid-summer. Since most of the brewery’s seating is indoors, the beer garden will be an outdoor seating option for those who would like to soak in some rays as they sip on their beers.

Early next year, look for Champion to break ground on a production facility so its beer lovers can pick up a six-pack of their favorite creation at the local beer store.

For now, anyone that wants to taste one of Smith’s many beer concoctions will need to head on down to the brewery at 324 6th St. SE in downtown Charlottesville.

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