Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hop Over to Hardywood West Creek

New Goochland brewery is open for business, plus other food & drink news

Posted By on Sat, Mar 31, 2018 at 4:00 AM

We love our urban breweries just as much as the next Fan dweller or Scott’s Addition resident. But for a completely different beer-drinking experience, Hardywood West Creek has quietly opened its doors for limited hours in the days leading to its grand opening weekend.

The new craft brewery sits on 24 acres overlooking Tuckahoe Creek, and the spacious interior features three service bars, each with 20 taps. In the ground-level taproom you’ll find shuffleboard and arcade games, plus a stage for live shows, and the 2,000 square-foot patio has a fire pit and courts for bocce ball. For the nonbeer drinkers, it’ll also have Snowing in Space coffee and kombucha Blue Ridge Bucha available.

Check out the Facebook event for details and hours, and mark your calendars for the grand opening on Friday, April 6.

To market, to market

If we’re judging by this week’s weather, winter may finally be behind us. And in a city that thrives on all things local, that means one thing: It’s farmers market season. Last week, the Carytown Farmers Market announced that it will move from its original location in the Wells Fargo parking lot to City Stadium, about half a mile away. The Sunday market featured about 15 vendors during the 2017 season, and organizers say they expect 25 to 30 this year.

Opening day is Sunday, April 22, and market hours will remain 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fire it up

The Cask Cafe already has a lot going for it: an ever-rotating selection of beer, roll-up windows that make the bar area feel more like a patio during warm weather, grilled cheese sandwiches and an overall atmosphere of a classic neighborhood joint. Add pizza into the mix and you couldn’t ask for much more in a bar.

Starting this week, the team at Cask will serve up margherita and pepperoni pizzas from Billy Pies (you may have had its pizzas at Triple Crossing Brewing Co.). According to owner David Garrett, the pizzas will arrive premade, and the café will cook them to order in a small electric pizza oven “that mimics a wood-fired one.” If you live nearby and weren’t already a regular, you will be now.

Best in brew

We already knew that Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Company roasts and distributes some of the best coffee around, so the folks over at Food & Wine Magazine didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Congrats, guys, on being named the best coffee in Virginia!

Principled pints

What’s better than beer on a Friday night? Beer on a Friday night for a good cause. This Friday, Three Notch’d RVA Collab House will donate $1 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for every pint of “Table Envy” table beer sold.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Hole New World

Yes, you can swap donuts for buns at Sugar Shack owner’s newest venture, Luther Burger.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 12:35 PM

Sugar Shack may have only been around since 2013, but in those five years it’s become a Richmond staple for fresh doughnuts and coffee. And as of this week, it’s also the purveyor of the area’s newest selection of burgers, fries and shakes. On March 26, Luther Burger, attached to the Huguenot Road Sugar Shack in Chesterfield, officially opened for business.

Sugar Shack and Luther Burger owner Ian Kelley was inspired by his favorite restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida: Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, a no-frills, cash-only spot near the water that serves up house-smoked fish, burgers and beer.

“It’s the best, most simple burger ever,” Kelley says. “Now that I have kids I don’t get to go down there as much, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring back some of my childhood love locally.”

The menu is simple: griddle-smashed burgers in the beef, turkey, crab and vegan varieties, plus waffle fries, milkshakes, soda and beer. Each burger is served with lettuce, tomato, onion, classic ketchup-and-mayo burger sauce and cheese. The hot, crispy waffle fries are available with a heavy dusting of seasonings like sea salt, white cheddar, garlic Parmesan, Buffalo, Old Bay, jalapeño and, for those drawn to heat, the house-made “dragon’s breath,” a spicy Thai flavor. Also served on the side are a couple pickle chips and a container of Luther sauce, a tangy, dill-based aioli for dipping created by manager and longtime Sugar Shacker James Henderson. Lettuce wraps are available upon request for a gluten-free option, and vegans will be pleased to find dairy-free cheese, burger sauce and milkshakes on the menu, in addition to the wheat-and-potato-based Impossible Burger patties.

The shakes, which Henderson says all have a vanilla ice cream base, are thick enough to warrant a straw as big around as your thumb. There are 17 flavors available, including classics like chocolate, strawberry, Oreo and coffee, plus taro, chai, pistachio, lavender and birthday cake. And if you just can’t decide, they’ll happily combine flavors for a custom shake.

If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, go ahead and Luther that burger: Order it piled between two Sugar Shack doughnuts instead of on a bun.

Henderson says the original Luther burger features two glazed doughnuts, but there’s no limit to the doughnut-and-burger combos they’ll whip up for you. His personal favorite, he says, was a burger with two maple-bacon doughnuts. Sprinkles, powdered sugar, or chocolate with shredded coconut may not be the first flavor combinations that come to mind when you think of burgers, but hey, no judgment here.

“I’ll do whatever the customer wants,” Henderson says.

Customers are welcome to enjoy their meals inside Sugar Shack, but anyone who orders a beer must remain in the area near the Luther Burger counter, or outside in one of the patio booths.

As for future iterations of Luther Burger, Kelley says the soon-to-open Sugar Shack in Charlottesville will have one attached to it, and other locations may also be on the horizon. So far, he says, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We are still developing and learning as we go, but we’ve seen some of the same faces three days in a row, and a few twice in a day,” Kelley says. “For now we are just trying to keep our heads above water with how busy it’s been.”

Luther Burger

Mondays - Saturdays, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

1931 Huguenot Road, Bon Air


Green Flash closes Virginia Beach brewery, will stop distributing to East Coast

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 10:03 AM

Green Flash's brewery in Virginia Beach has closed, and according to a news release from CEO and founder Mike Hinkley, the company will stop distributing its beer to the East Coast.

Hinkley confirmed that the brewery did not open Monday, and notices taped to the gates outside the tasting room and beer garden read "out of business" with instructions on how to return kegs.

Any mention of the Virginia Beach location had been removed from the company's website by Monday afternoon.

Green Flash opened its 58,000-square-foot brewery and taproom off General Booth Boulevard in November 2016. It had plans to put out 100,000 barrels each year. All the Green Flash beer sent east of the Mississippi River was to come out of the Virginia Beach brewery.

The company will now focus on its roots in California, the news release said. Green Flash also owns Alpine Beer Co., which will also stop distributing its beer to the East Coast.

"Over the past two years, the company has been under significant pressure due to the cost and complexity of bicoastal operations," the release said. It went on to say that the company will now focus on breweries in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Nebraska.

The company announced "a transaction involving a new investor group" in Green Flash, though it did not name the investor.

Ending East Coast distribution and closing the brewery means the elimination of 36 jobs at the brewery and seven sales jobs, according to the release.

"I hope another brewery will move in and operate this wonderful facility with and for the people of Virginia Beach," Hinkley said in the release.

Jerry Miller, the CEO of Miller Group, which owns Green Flash's Virginia Beach facility, told The Pilot Monday that the brewery stopped paying rent after January. He said he sent a notice of default. Last week Green Flash's lender, Comerica bank, started paying the rent but not the backpay that was owed, Miller said.

Now Miller is in discussions about what will happen next – whether another company will move in, or if he'll buy the equipment himself and hire someone to run a brewery there. He said he's gotten a lot of interest from local and national breweries over the past few days.

On Saturday, all the brewing equipment – essentially everything but the building and the land – was listed for sale online.

Continue reading at pilotonline.com

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Green Flash brewery in Virginia Beach listed for sale

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Green Flash Brewing appears to be selling its Virginia Beach brewery online.

The listing through Heritage Global Partners was live Saturday morning. It advertises: “Global Private Treaty Featuring An Amazing Turnkey Opportunity for a 1 Year Old 50 Barrel Brewery Operation, Constructed in 2016.”

All of the parts of the brewery, including the brewing equipment, bottling line, kegging line and other parts, are being sold.

“To be clear, this is NOT an auction or liquidation of the equipment. This an offering for the complete, turnkey operation only. We are seeking offers from parties interested to acquire everything from the site in a turnkey purchase, take over the lease, etc.,” wrote Nick Dove, the executive vice president of Heritage Global Partners, in an email.

When reached by phone Saturday morning, Green Flash founder Mike Hinkley did not immediately provide a comment.

The sale comes two months after Green Flash laid off 15 percent of its employees and scaled back distribution to 18 states, from 50.

The San Diego-based craft brewer opened a 58,000-square-foot brewery and taproom in November 2016 off General Booth Boulevard. It had plans to put out 100,000 barrels each year. All the Green Flash beer sent east of the Mississippi River comes out of the Virginia Beach brewery.

Six of the 45 employees at the Virginia Beach taproom and 33 out of 220 nationally were losing their jobs as the company scaled back, Hinkley told The Pilot in January. He expected the amount of beer made to go down by about a third.

On Saturday morning, the brewery and tasting room was set to open as usual. Employees in the tasting room said they had not been told to do otherwise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Richmond Brunch Weekend Plus Gator Gourmet

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Bunch o' brunch

Benedicts, biscuits and bloodys abound in this town, and we know that nobody needs to tell you that weekends are for brunching. Next weekend, consider perusing the list of restaurants participating in Richmond Brunch Weekend before heading out the door in the morning. More than 40 local businesses are taking part in the annual two-day event, and they've all agreed to donate 15 percent of the weekend's proceeds to Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center. Several places, like On the Rox in Shockoe Bottom, Continental Divide in the Fan and Eggspress in North Side, will serve Massey mimosas: specialty drinks available for the entire month, and $1 from each will also go to the Massey Cancer Center.

For a list of restaurants, check out astoldoverbrunch.com/richmond-brunch-weekend.

Gourmet at St. Gertrude

Wednesday, March 28, more than two-dozen Richmond-area restaurants and food vendors will gather at St. Gertrude High School for the annual Gator Gourmet. Each vendor will serve its signature dish, and at the end of the night, awards will go out for best dish, best dessert and best booth. Advance tickets cost $25 or four for $90; tickets at the door will be $35. Be sure to bring cash for the bar.

For information and to buy tickets, check out saintgertrude.org/gator-gourmet.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Virginia Distilleries Want to Keep Profits from Tasting Room Sales, but ABC Fighting It

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 9:30 PM

Virginia craft distillery owners say they want their fair share of the profits from bottles sold in their tasting rooms.

But a pair of bills proposed in the General Assembly that would have helped with that died in the final week of this year’s session.

“The biggest thing for us, is it would put us on a level playing field with the breweries and wineries,” said Derek Ungerecht, the owner of Dead Reckoning Distillery in Norfolk. He opened a rum tasting room in January.

The bills would have allowed distilleries to keep the markup – imposed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board – from bottles sold in their tasting rooms.

Breweries, cideries and wineries don’t have markup added to retail prices by the ABC.

“Essentially we have one sector of the alcohol industry being treated completely different than the rest of the industry,” said Del. Nick Freitas, who sponsored one of the bills.

The markup on spirits is 69 percent on average, based on the bottle size and proof, according to the ABC. There are other fees, too – a state excise tax, a case handling fee, and other factors that go into setting the price of the bottle.

In an emailed statement, ABC CEO Travis Hill said allowing distilleries to keep the markup from bottles sold in their stores would create private retailers of distilled spirits. Also, the ABC would lose money to the tune of $4 million over the next two years. How much money would be lost after that is disputed by different groups.

“Virginia ABC supports the continued growth of Virginia distilleries, but believes continuing to implement policies that benefit the entire industry is the better approach than putting a $4 million hold in the state budget, especially as the General Assembly seeks to find money to fund important state programs,” Hill wrote.

Hill added that the ABC has already done a lot to help distilleries, like lifting restrictions that didn’t allow them to have stores. Since that move in 2015, the number of distilleries has tripled from 20 to 60, and distillery stores have grown from 15 to 40.

He also notes that last year the ABC started allowing distilleries to sell to restaurants directly, and ABC gives Virginia distilleries “greater consideration” than out-of-state brands when deciding to stock their products in the 370 stores.

But distillery owners want more.

Keeping more of their profits would make Virginia craft distilleries more competitive with ones around the country, said Josh Canada, an owner of Tarnished Truth, the distillery inside The Cavalier. It would be “an absolute game-changer for Virginia distilleries,” he said.

To read more of the story visit the Virginian-Pilot.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Comfort Switches Its Business Model to Focus on Charity

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Cuisine With a Cause

Local restaurateur Jason Alley wants to give back. Last week he [and co-owner Michele Jones] announced that their downtown Southern restaurant Comfort will shift its business model to focus on ending hunger in the greater Richmond area" by donating all of its net profits to local hunger-relief organization FeedMore.

"When you're looking at how to be effective when giving back, those guys are a no-brainer," Alley says of the charity. "They're really excited to partner with us, and it just all made sense."

Comfort will begin hosting fundraising events and awareness campaigns to benefit FeedMore, and guests at the restaurant have the option of donating extra money on top of the dinner check.

"The intention has never been to get exceedingly wealthy," he says. "We want to be able to take care of our families and give back, and that giving back is something that's really important to us."

New Brew in View

Because we just can't get enough beer in this city, a new brewery will make its debut this weekend. Canon & Draw Brewing Co., at 1527 W. Main St. in the Fan, will open for business at noon on Saturday, March 10. One of the flagship beers will be River City Tap Water, a crisp American lager with 5 percent alcohol.

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