Hunter Smith

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I’m the owner/president and head brewer at Champion Brewing Co. [in Charlottesville, Va.], and believe it or not, this is really my first foray in the craft brewing industry. After numerous courses, both locally and through a Siebel Institute program, I shadowed some brewers and dove in here after four years of homebrewing.

What’s new at Champion?

We’re constantly brewing new beers, but one of the things we’re most excited about is an outdoor patio we’ve created. We’re also building a 30-bbl production facility in addition to our current 3-bbl operation. It’s a big and exciting jump.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

The camaraderie and the access to so many amazing beers and people. I’ve never met such a passionate, dedicated group of people who also have something very cool to share with each other in beer. We all make a product that makes people happy.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Most of my time away from the brewery is spent with my family—my wife, daughter, and newborn son. We like walking around downtown Charlottesville, cheering on the Red Sox, reading, and traveling when we can. My wife and I are both really into the local food, beer, and wine scene.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

We’ve made an oyster stout with local oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, and I think those two are a dream together.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Landing my wife and raising a beautiful daughter together. Outside of the brewery, nothing makes me more proud. I also had some pretty cool highlights in the music career I had before brewing.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Right now I’m really enjoying the Maharaja Imperial IPA from Avery Brewing Co.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

Our first trip to GABF and making the rounds around Denver when we were still in-planning. That trip is closely followed by Asheville and visiting St. John brewers on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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