The priorities at Triple Crossing Brewing are clear upon entering. Beyond the concrete floor and sparse seating, a set of computer monitors flash a selection of daringly hoppy beers pumped straight from tank to tap.
In a city where commercial beers make up the vast majority of sales, co-owner Scott Jones says the goal of the brewery is as simple as its layout: “We’re all getting together to educate people about better beer. We make beer that tastes like stuff.”
The project began as friends in the Chesterfield getting together to sort out the intricacies of home brewing. After Adam Worcester received his first brewing kit as a gift, he called his friend Jeremy Wirtes.
“I had no idea what I was doing, like most people starting a new hobby,” says Worcester, who works in marketing at a financial company. “I realized my beer tasted better when I was brewing with Jeremy.”
After they brought Jones into the mix, the trio began brewing India pale ales and other West Coast-style, hop-forward beer. They say the 2012 legal change that allowed beer-only brewing operations to serve the public directly made them eye a downtown space to share their concoctions.
“We wanted really fresh beers like that on draft,” Wirtes says. “We also really liked the idea of a constantly rotating selection. It’s whatever we feel like making instead of core, year-round offerings.”
The brewery opened in April, pouring a summer golden ale dubbed Element 79. While reviews were positive, Wirtes recalls the first brew day right before the opening as a “disaster.”
“Nothing worked,” he says. “It tasted great, despite all the issues.”
Jones, a software engineer by day, has used the brewery as a lab for more than just beer. He developed digital signs that allow bartenders to key in new offerings on the fly. Even payment options are unconventional. In the lead-up to opening, he became intrigued by Bitcoin, an electronic currency that’s traded like stock. As a result, the bar looks something like an electronics store, with tablet devices accepting payments.
“It came to a business decision. It’s not going to harm us or cost us any extra,” Jones says. “We’re going to do it and we’ll differentiate ourselves. It’s a less than 15-second transaction.”
As a result, Triple Crossing has become a favorite draw for Bitcoin’s growing user base, including a visit from a group of Richmond Bitcoin enthusiasts.
But the beer isn’t lost in the focus on flashy technology and crypto currency. The trio has won a fan in Jay Bayer, owner of the popular Jackson Ward restaurant Saison. He paired a new single hop, Saison, with a lunch menu for the recent Capital Ale House National Beer Expo.
“I went over there after they first opened,” Bayer says. “I tasted their beers and thought they were doing a really awesome job making approachable styles.”
Wirtes says that nimbleness will keep the brewery standing out in an increasingly crowded field in Richmond — even if it means some beers aren’t a hit. An attempt at a Scottish-style ale, for example, received a lukewarm reaction.
“The beer scene in Richmond probably wants more excitement than what a style like that offers,” Wirtes says. “But I like really great session beers just as much as the double IPAs.”
Triple Crossing’s most successful offerings remain the summer ale and its India pale ale, dubbed Falcon Smash. Given the lack of capacity, keeping kegs available has been a challenge. And while the owners say they hope to offer more of their brews for sale elsewhere, the focus remains on brewing rather than wide distribution.
With Wirtes as the only one of the group who’s taken on the project full-time, he says brewing in the empty room is his favorite part of the job. Even so, he says, “it’s nice to see the place packed.”
Triple Crossing Brewing Co.