In the early 1990s, Charlottesville native Mark Thompson took his biology degree from James Madison University and moved to Portland, Oregon, ground zero for craft beer’s growth in America. The natural blend of art and science poured into the brewing scene inspired him to take up the craft. Working alongside brewers in Oregon and Colorado, Mark honed his own artisanal beer recipes.
An old friend looking to start a brewpub and music hall back in Charlottesville eventually lured Mark back to Virginia. In September 1999, they partnered to found Starr Hill Brewery out of a passion for great beer and live music. Named after the local neighborhood, the brewery shared its original space with the Starr Hill Music Hall. The historic storefront on Main Street was once home to the state of Virginia’s first craft brewing operation, Blue Ridge Brewing Company.