The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Champion Brewing Company

“Better Together”: Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer to Merge

One makes Five Pillars Ale. The other makes Collaboration 29. Now, two of Charlottesville’s most acclaimed breweries, each loyal supporters of the community, are merging. Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer.

While both parties expect the merger to bring behind-the-scenes efficiencies, little will change for fans of their beer, they say. Reason’s Jeff Raileanu becomes Champion’s CFO. Champion’s operations will move from Woolen Mills to Reason’s headquarters on Seminole Trail. And, the breweries will enjoy improved buying, production, and marketing power. All the while, each brewery will keep making its same flagship beers, with the same brewers, recipes, and staff as before. Tap room locations also remain unchanged.

Among the ties that bind the two breweries is a love of Charlottesville. Champion’s founder and two Reason co-founders were all born at the old Martha Jefferson hospital in downtown Charlottesville. With Charlottesville in their blood, they are active in local philanthropy and share a drive to preserve locally-owned breweries. “With long-time Charlottesville connections and a real love for this community, the culture fit between Reason and Champion made sense,” said Raileanu. “It’s an exciting opportunity for two like-minded local companies to combine to be better together.”

The best news for local beer fans may be stability, particularly in an industry where over-saturation, consolidation, and COVID-19 have all threatened local breweries’ existence. With Champion launched in 2012 and Reason in 2017, the breweries’ founders hope that joining forces will mean they are here to stay. “It’s a path for long term stability for both local brands,” Champion founder Hunter Smith said. Raileanu agrees. “We’re nearing our five-year anniversary and it’s almost ten years for Champion,” he said. “By combining and streamlining our operations, we’re setting up to make the next five years even better.”

The deal will close in late November.


Five Pillars Ale Creates More than 63,000 Meals for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank


Logo donated by Watermark Design.

In the 2019 Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions, four friends pooled funds to win Beer Run’s offering — the chance to brew a collaboration beer with Champion Brewing Company. They called their beer Five Pillars Ale, a Virginia pale ale brewed in celebration of the five life principles upon which Tony Bennett built the UVa men’s basketball program: humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness. The full story is here,

When COVID-19 prevented plans for the beer’s public release, the auction winners decided to put it to a use true to its name: serve others. With the help of Champion Brewing Company, they placed the beer up for auction, in a package that included Five Pillars Ale memorabilia signed by Tony Bennett. All proceeds would go directly to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank — aid which comes at a critical time. The number of people in Charlottesville who seek the food bank’s help has tripled during the COVID-19 crisis.

What happened next is yet another instance of the theme of the auctions: kindness is contagious.

The original Beer Run auction item allowed the four winners to invite eight friends to join them for brewing day: an entire day of beer, food, and brewing.


In the Five Pillars Ale auction, after much back-and-forth bidding, the winners were the eight friends who were invited to be part of brewing day. They combined funds for a joint bid and won the very beer they had been invited to help make. “I was familiar with the Five Pillars story and had no trouble pulling together a group of friends eager to support this great cause during a very challenging time,” said Mike Egidi, who spearheaded the group bid.

Their winning bid? $2,900.

Thanks to the efficiency of the food bank, this is enough to create more than 11,000 meals for the area’s hungry.

But, the kindness did not stop there. Three generous souls were so inspired by the Five Pillars Ale auction that they each made donations to the food bank in its honor, totaling another $9,000. With these contributions and the proceeds from the two auctions, Five Pillars Ale yielded a total of $15,900 for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, enough to create more than 63,000 meals for the area’s hungry.

If you would like to donate to the food bank in honor of Five Pillars Ale, you may do so here.

Thank you, Five Pillars. Thank you, Charlottesville.


Beer Run Auction: Brew Your Own Charlottesville Beer

Beer Run pic

Here is your chance to experience Beer Run like you never have before, while helping to feed the area’s hungry: The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions. Along with all of the other restaurants in The Charlottesville 29, Beer Run has created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for whoever pledges the highest donation to The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Thanks to the generosity of Beer Run and Champion Brewing Company, the entire winning bid goes directly to the food bank. And, thanks to the efficiency of the food bank, each dollar donated creates four meals for the area’s hungry.

The Beer Run signature experience for The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions:

Brew Your Own Charlottesville Beer

Now open for more than a decade, Beer Run has fueled Charlottesville’s love of good beer — both drinking it and brewing it. The winner of the Beer Run auction will have the chance to enjoy our area’s beer scene in a whole new way: create their own beer for a local brewery, a collaboration with Champion Brewing Company.

In advance of brewing day, the auction winner will discuss ideas with the Champion brewing team, who will help to design and name the beer based on input from the auction winner. When brewing day comes, the auction winner and nine guests will begin their day with breakfast and beer at Beer Run. From there, they will be off to Champion, where they will make the beer with Champion’s brewers. When the work is done, the group will return to Beer Run for a celebratory dinner and beer.

Finally, a few weeks later when the beer is ready, Beer Run will host a happy hour event, open to the public, celebrating Champion’s release of the auction winner’s collaboration. At the release event, the auction winner’s group may enjoy the beer they created, on the house.

Note: The winning bidder will schedule their experience at a time that is mutually convenient for Beer Run and Champion.


Bidding for Beer Run’s experience has ended. Winning bid: $4,000.