Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Väsen Brewing Co. Will Open in Scott's Addition This Summer

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Väsen Brewing Co. is big. It takes up most of the back end of the HandCraft Building in Scott’s Addition, a cavernous space still under construction.

Steel framing is slowly getting covered by drywall, pipes stick out of dirt trenches and there’s a whole lot of gravel around. Part of the concrete flooring is in, but it’s still important to watch your step.

The plan is to produce 2,750 barrels of beer in the first year and swell to around 17,000, co-founder Tony Giordano says. He wants to try out different varieties to see which ones sell the best. Just because a brewer likes it, he says, doesn’t mean customers will.

On this cold day, it’s hard to imagine the space full of beer drinkers. But opening day is closer than it looks, Giordano says: “I think it’s a real possibility that we can be making beer here in about three months and opening in about five [months].”

Giordano, an Army veteran and a University of Colorado graduate, began working at Boulder Beer Co. with a plan to learn as much as he could about the business and then start his own brewery with his cousin Joey Darragh.

They grew up in Northern Virginia, and both were introduced to the burgeoning craft beer and home-brewing scene out West. While Giordano was in Boulder, Darragh was living in California where he worked as an engineer for Apple and Tesla Motors.

Two years ago, the bearded cousins moved to Richmond and immediately fell in love with the HandCraft Building.

“We wanted to take what we’d learned on the West Coast and bring it back here,” Giordano says. “Opening this kind of brewery in Boulder — we probably would have been successful, but it would have been just another brewery.”

They also were ready to come home — although not back to the Washington area. “We wanted more of a laid-back scene,” he says.

And that’s helped drive the message behind the brand as well.

Giordano and Darragh look at it as a lifestyle brand. The word “väsen” means inner spirit, or essence, in Swedish. Before moving to Richmond, the two traveled to Europe to learn as much as they could about brewing and beer styles. Their last stop was in Sweden, and when they heard the word’s translation they knew they had the name for their business.

“We want our brewery to be a place where people can be themselves,” Darragh says.

They also want to pair the company with such groups as the American Alpine Club and Blue Sky Fund. They plan to sponsor athletes, too — in fact, Väsen’s first event will be with the Richmond Kickers.

Although they see their beer as something that can ride along in a kayak on the river or get thrown in a backpack for a hike, along with the nonprofit Blue Sky Fund, Väsen’s also working with One Percent for the Planet.

“The environment is really important to us,” Darragh says. “It goes beyond the outdoor athletic community.”

Until then, they’re focused on developing different recipes with head brewery scientist Jonathan Warner. He’s isolated several yeast strains from local trees and fruits to use in the fermenting process. This is the kind of research and development that will set Väsen apart from other breweries, the cousins say, as they play around with traditional styles and infuse them with American beer-making techniques.

“We’ve created this whole other thing,” Giordano says. “It’ll be interesting to see how Richmond takes it. It’s not going to taste like anything they’ve ever had before.”

Monday, February 27, 2017

Five Hopping Richmond Brews to Jump-Start Spring

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 11:40 AM

While plenty of tasty winter warmers remain out there, the abundance of fresh India pale ales in this city and unseasonable weather makes us long for porch drinks, river rock hangs and longer days. After exploring what’s to come, I’ve rounded up offerings from both ends of the spectrum to make sure to keep everyone happy and satiated.

  • Scott Elmquist

Helles Frozen Over
5 percent alcohol
Strangeways Brewing

They said it would never happen. The curious purveyors of strange have crafted a good, old-fashioned lager. To be fair, it’s anything but ordinary. Hopped with Glacier, Galena and Centennial, it’s low on bitterness with a robust, malty backbone and light to medium body. This crafty creature is an easy drinker sure to please lager heads as well as those looking for something that can take them through the evening without a headbanger in the morning.

  • Scott Elmquist

8.5 percent alcohol
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Fans of this 2015 release will rejoice knowing it’s now back annually. Lots of hops come together to tantalize your buds with citrus zings and a wallop of tropical aromas. This imperial IPA pours hazy amber with a pillowy head. It has a hearty helping of malted barley from Copper Fox Distillery that offers up a nice balance. Despite the alcohol, it’s not a booze bomb.

  • Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

Kentucky French Toast
10 percent alcohol
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

Another stellar offering from the farm. This barrel-aged imperial brown ale boasts a prominent bourbon flavor that hits you right up front. Swirl it around in your mouth to reveal subtle maple and vanilla notes followed by a smidge of cinnamon at the finish. Its creamy mouth feel and medium body make this one an easy drinker — even before noon.

  • Scott Elmquist

Malibu Nights, Tangerine Dreams
6.5 percent alcohol
Champion Brewing

A unique brew that’s the cool kid at the party based on looks alone, this American IPA pours pinkish amber with an off-white head. Brewed with tangerines and hibiscus, it’s dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops, making it tangy, dank and bursting with fruity aroma. Bonus points to Champion for crafting a label akin to an album cover straight out of the ’80s that would make Duran Duran proud.

  • Scott Elmquist

Piece of the Action
7.0 percent alcohol
The Answer Brewpub

Fans of Mosaic hops will absolutely want in on this citrusy little number. Pours hazy golden and immediately delivers a phenomenal floral bouquet that includes hints of pineapple, papaya and mango. The finish is nice and dry. This beer will make you want to punch winter square between the eyes.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five Don’t-Miss Spring Events for Richmond Beer Lovers

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 12:05 PM

Feb. 26: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Four-Course Stout Brunch at Graffiato

It’s never too early to start drinking beer, am I right? And 11 a.m. seems like a perfectly reasonable time. It happens that Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s four-course stout brunch starts then and lasts until 2 p.m. Make your reservation at Graffiato to give Hardywood’s Singel Mimosa, Bourbon Vanilla Raspberry Stout, Kentucky Christmas Morning and Bourbon Sidamo Coffee Stout a try. $45, not including tax and gratuity. Reserve your spot by calling 918-9454. Graffiato, 123 W. Broad St. graffiatorva.com.

March 15: Greenery Floral Arranging Workshop at Strangeways Brewing

Drinking beer is all well and good, but you really ought to learn something once in a while. If you head over to Strangeways Brewing at 6:30 p.m. March 15 and put yourself in the capable hands of the folks at Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds, you’ll leave that night with a lovely St. Patrick’s Day arrangement and a healthy understanding of how to get flowers looking nice in the future when friends are coming over to share a few cold ones. $35. Reservations required. Strangeways Brewing, 2277 Dabney Road. Call 303-433 or visit strangewaysbrewing.com.

Cask Café & Market - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Cask Café & Market

March 19: International Pilsner Day at Cask Café & Market

It’s International Pilsner Day, and you can celebrate at Cask Café & Market with new pilsners from Garden Grove Brewing Co., Ardent Craft Ales, as well as Ardent’s annual doppelbock, Defenestrator. Plus, you can fill up on schnitzel and bratwurst sandwiches to make the entire Germanic experience complete. The Cask Café & Market, 206 S. Robinson St. Call 355-2402 or visit thecaskrva.com.

April 20: Hops to End Homelessness Fundraiser at Triple Crossing Brewing

At both the downtown and Fulton locations of Triple Crossing Brewing, you can help out from 4-10 p.m. by hoisting a brew. Ten percent of proceeds from Hops to End Homelessness happy hour will benefit Home Again, a nonprofit that helps the homeless with shelter. Triple Crossing Brewing, 113 S. Foushee St. and 5203 Hatcher St. Call 495-1955 or visit triplecrossingbeer.com.

April 29: The Virginia Hopped Cider Festival at Blue Bee Cider

Blue Bee Cider started the trend with its Hopsap Shandy, and now other cideries in the state have followed by hopping ciders of their own. On April 29, the Scott’s Addition cidery will play host to the Virginia Hopped Cider Festival. You can expect tastings, hops-focused workshops, and art that focuses on hops. Even food that uses hops as an ingredient will be on hand, and you can commemorate the day with a snap at the festival’s photo booth. Blue Bee Cider, 1320 Summit Ave. Call 231-0280 or visit bluebeecider.com.

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