Craft brewers join the fight against natural gas pipelines (Grist)

On a recent afternoon, visitors packed into Blue Mountain Brewery, one of three craft breweries in Virginia’s idyllic Rockfish Valley. Couples and families spilled out of the restaurant onto patios and into gardens, sipping Full Nelson Pale Ale, Kölsch 151, Original Nitro Porter, and more.

Above them, the low-hanging clouds that obscured Afton Mountain’s upper ridges couldn’t mute the bright reds, oranges, and yellows exploding on its slopes. The brewery is just four miles below Rockfish Gap — the mountain pass that marks the southern entrance of Shenandoah National Park, the passage of the Appalachian Trail, and the point where Skyline Drive becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway.

But there’s a storm brewing in this autumnal paradise, as evidenced by a sign in front of the brewery that’s become quite common in the Blue Ridge Mountains of late: “No pipeline.”

Read more of my first story for Grist, which details how craft brewers increasingly are getting involved in environmental politics.

The Rise of Family-Friendly Breweries (All About Beer)

When children walk in the door at Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon, they’re given a ball of the restaurant’s organic base pizza dough—think an edible version of Play-Doh. The restaurant features three different play areas with train tables, chalk boards, magnets, books and toys.

The child-friendly business model is catching on nationally, for good reason: Children drive buying decisions. That’s why fast-food restaurants snag licensing rights to the latest kids’ movies and groceries put candy bars on low shelves in the checkout line.

The link between beer and families isn’t as odd at it seems. European pubs and beer gardens traditionally serve as community centers. Busch Gardens amusement parks had their origins in 1906 when Anheuser-Busch opened a garden and invited families to participate in picnics and egg hunts while sampling beer in hospitality houses.

Read more about child-friendly breweries in my story on All About Beer magazine’s website.

You can also discuss the story, either in the comments on the story itself, on All About Beer’s Facebook page or in this thread on Reddit.

Fall 2014 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine now available

Virginia Tech Magazine has released its Fall 2014 issue, which includes several of my stories.

My cover story examines the university’s efforts to build Virginia’s agricultural industry and help find new ways to feed and provide water for the world’s growing population.

I also look at what Virginia Tech faculty are doing to fight pests that have decimated populations of American chestnut, Eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock.

In this issue’s How Tech Ticks, I consider the technology, engineering and construction that’s gone into making the Duck Pond one of the most natural-feeling places on campus.

Find all this and more in the new issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, either in your mailbox or online at vtmag.vt.edu.

10 Road Projects That Will Change the Roanoke and New River Valleys

Road construction projects clog traffic, drive commuters nuts and litter the landscape with orange cones and reduced speed limits.

Yet for their inconveniences, they can also solve troublesome traffic problems that have lingered for decades.

Fueled by a mix of regularly scheduled funding, federal money and state bonds approved by the General Assembly, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has lined up a series of construction projects for state roads. Some already are finished. Others will have motorists pulling their hair for years before they’re finally complete.

You can read the full list, along with the status and cost of each project, in the October issue of Roanoke Business. It’s on regional newstands now and can be read online here.