Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Richmond's Craft Beer Industry is Overwhelmingly White. How Can That Be Changed?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 11:19 AM

If only the sea of faces at a brewery were as colorful as the beer pouring from the taps.

A rich imperial stout might be served alongside a pale ale, but only a few black and brown faces mingle in a predominantly white crowd, even in racially diverse Richmond.

Nationwide, the stereotypical craft beer drinker is a white male in his 30s — beard optional — according to demographic data reported by the Brewers Association trade organization in August.

Women and Hispanic craft beer drinkers are increasing in numbers, says the association’s craft beer program director, Julia Herz, and blacks represent 10 percent of craft beer drinkers.

That’s not bad compared with national numbers, considering that blacks make up 12 percent of the population. But it’s a poor showing for metropolitan Richmond, whose population is about 50 percent black.

There’s no hard data on the demographics of Richmond beer drinkers, but anecdotally, observations at breweries and beer-centric restaurants reveal a heavy white skew.

The racial reasons are as complex as the chemistry of brewing, infused with centuries of oppression and conflict, sometimes overt but often subtle and unintentional. The problem is more complex than who’s drinking what beer and where.

As a white woman, I’m no more qualified to pontificate on black America than a man can empathize with pregnancy, but I crave a colorblind America, so I’ll give it a stab.

Carena Ives serves a variety of local beer at Carena’s Jamaican Grill: “Putting ‘craft’ in front of it makes it this other thing.” - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Carena Ives serves a variety of local beer at Carena’s Jamaican Grill: “Putting ‘craft’ in front of it makes it this other thing.”

Neighborhood Placement

Location, location, location. Mostly for reasons of rent and industrial zoning, craft breweries often situate themselves where customers must seek them out, beyond neighborhoods that otherwise might attract minority customers.

But consider beer-focused businesses in Old Towne Petersburg.

“We have a very diverse crowd, including color, age and gender,” James Hartle of Bucket Trade says, citing nearby Virginia State University and the military as key drivers.

Amanda Marable, marketing manager at Loveland Distributing, says she’s noticed that demographic lines at restaurants have blurred in the past decade. “You find pockets of beer lovers all over now,” she says, “in every neighborhood.”

Two examples are Mama J’s and Carena’s Jamaican Grill, both of which offer a handful of craft beers.

The owner of the grill, Carena Ives, likens craft beer to NASCAR. “It’s not like we can’t go to a NASCAR event, but not many people of color do,” she says. “If it’s embraced by one segment of the population that we don’t have anything in common with, then it’s just assumed that it’s not for us.”

When it comes to the beers on tap at her restaurant, she says: “I don’t even call Legend a craft beer. I say it’s a local beer. … Putting ‘craft’ in front of it makes it this other thing.”

In many ways, the status quo reflects a chicken-and-egg conundrum. A neighborhood’s average income, its restaurants’ menu prices and community popularity of products influence beverage offerings.

A budget-conscious restaurant serves inexpensive beers and upscale restaurants focus on wine lists. When restaurants don’t carry craft beers, brand reps don’t visit them, so regulars don’t have the opportunity to try new products. Because beer has a limited shelf life, bar managers have another reason to avoid buying unproven products.

And from a business standpoint, location carries risk. Breweries tend to open closer to an established fan base rather than pioneering in areas where success is less assured.

Bobby Faithful is the front of the house manager at the Answer Brewpub, owned by An Bui of Mekong Restaurant. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Bobby Faithful is the front of the house manager at the Answer Brewpub, owned by An Bui of Mekong Restaurant.


Bobby Faithful, who works as front-of-house manager at the Answer Brewpub, recently helped launch a brewing certificate program at the University of Richmond.

Faithful initially became interested in craft beer as a consumer, he says, before taking a job with a well-known Delaware brewery, Dogfish Head.

The company promoted “off-centered ales for off-centered people,” he says, “so I felt like I fit in even though I was the only black guy.”

He finds the Answer to be a comfortable workplace, he says, with an Asian owner and female and minority management.

Black Richmonders fill other important roles at local breweries, including Triple Crossing Brewing Co., Stone Brewing, Ardent Craft Ales and Trapezium Brewing Co. in Petersburg. One area brewery, 7 Hills Seafood and Brewing Co., now is black-owned.

Someone who’s observed the issue up close is Sterling Stokes, known across social media and the blogging world as RVA Beermeister — a regular in the beer community.

“For the most part,” he says, “I think our local community is very accepting of diverse backgrounds.” He notes Hardywood’s Heart and Soul Brew Fest as an example: “It was very uplifting to see more African-Americans like myself at a beer event. … Honestly, it was something I didn’t know was missing from my life.”

Owner Michael Abdelmagid brews 7 Hills Seafood and Brewing Co.’s beer on site. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Owner Michael Abdelmagid brews 7 Hills Seafood and Brewing Co.’s beer on site.

A Molehill

Michael Abdelmagid, owner of 7 Hills, has another theory: Craft beer simply is a relatively new concept to the black community.

“It isn’t necessarily part of broad African-American culture right now,” he says. “Not even all of white America or Asian-Americans like craft beer.”

There also are fewer women than men, Abdelmagid says: “It’s not like there isn’t inclusion. … It just takes time to catch on.”

Integrating the craft beer community can be small part of a solution to today’s broader problems. As a safe place where the focus is on fun and relaxation, breweries and beer-centric bars can begin to break down barriers.

“The community is completely inclusive in some ways,” says Jacob Brunow of Brown Distributing. And as someone from a diverse family, he says he’s attuned to racial tensions. “We need to diversify badly, but how do you bridge that gap?”

To that end, Brown has been the host of wing, bacon and barbecue festivals that attracted a wide range of people who want to drink craft beer. Exposure is the answer, he says: “Get beers in people’s hands.”

Abdelmagid agrees with that approach. “Market it to different people in different ways, pair it with foods and events,” he says. “They’ll enjoy the beer and get exposed to it.”

At 7 Hills, he holds a variety of events that bring in people who wouldn’t have come only for the beer brewed on-site.

And white America may just need to step outside of its comfort zone too. It’s time to visit restaurants, businesses and organizations that aren’t on regular rotation. In my dream world, as more of us embrace the diversity of beer styles, our appreciation for the diversity of people will increase as well. S

Monday, March 6, 2017

Richmond Recipe: Beer-Brined Pork Chops

Posted on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Metzger Bar and Butchery’s Brittanny Anderson, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for 2017 Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, shares this recipe to pump up the flavor of an ordinary pork chop.

1 1/4 cups salt
3/4 cup sugar
5 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 quarts water
32 ounces beer
4 bone-in pork chops


Combine all the ingredients except the beer in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once the salt and sugar have dissolved, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Then add the beer and chill until it’s cold.

Using a large bowl or gallon-sized freezer bag, pour the beer mixture over the pork chops. Brine for three hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the pork chops, pat them dry and season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill the chops on each side for 5 minutes or until they’re medium.

Brittanny Anderson - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Brittanny Anderson

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.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Richmond's Buskey Cider Stretches the Way You Think About Cider

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Strange things are going on over at Buskey Cider. You might find a few unexpected ingredients in its latest releases.

“We’re doing some different stuff,” founder Will Correll says. “Collaborations are interesting — they’re tons of fun and we’ve got a lot of friends in different industries.”

Cider exists at the nexus between beer and wine. Like wine, it’s fermented from fruit juice, but it finishes with carbonation that’s more reminiscent of beer. Cider’s flavor profile is a flexible one — it can go from dry to sweet. And because it isn’t as assertive as say, a big bold cabernet sauvignon or chocolaty porter, it can lend itself to experimentation.

It helps the process to have different perspectives from other industries. Buskey co-founder Matthew Meyer, who’s the head winemaker at Williamsburg Winery, brings an important layer of expertise to cider-making. Alex Steinmetz, an experienced brew master, offers a different viewpoint.

“Most cideries act like a brewery or act like a winery,” Correll says. “We don’t see cider as either.”

Buskey is about to start fermenting in wine barrels, he says. So far, in collaboration with Reservoir Distillery a few blocks away in Scott’s Addition, the cidery has only finished and aged cider in bourbon barrels. Right now, there’s a heavier, darker Trappist-style cider that’s barrel-aging. The team is ready to try something a little different.

Earlier in the year, Buskey and Confluence Coffee joined to produce Nitro Coffee Cider. It was a natural collaboration — Buskey already was serving nitrogen-infused cider at its tasting room, and Confluence uses the technology to produce its creamy cold-brew coffee. The result? A tangy drink with the deeper, savory flavors of coffee — and a little jolt of caffeine to go along with the alcohol.

Some of the more exotic ciders have been single batches made with a method more commonly used in breweries. A device filled with fruit or herbs called a Randall is hooked up between the tap line and the tap itself. The cider then flows through the flavoring ingredients, infusing it right before it hits the glass. The result has been unusual concoctions such as jalapeño-lime or mango-mint. Plus, the flavoring ingredients never touch the keg’s tap line, so an entirely different recipe can be whipped up and served from the rest of the keg, if that’s what the folks at Buskey feel like doing that day.

For the holidays, Correll says, the cidery is releasing a cranberry-basil variety. “The idea for putting seasoning in came last Christmas before we were open,” he says. “My sister asked me if I’d make a cider to match the turkey — she asked for rosemary-thyme cider. It turned out great.”

Some of Buskey’s most popular innovations have been hopped ciders. Given the scarcity and price of hops, it’s expensive to produce, Correll says, but Citra-hopped cider has been a big hit. Steinmetz also is experimenting with Cascade hops in a spontaneously fermented cider — a method similar to the one used to make sour beers.

By mid-January, Buskey should have its cider in cans and on store shelves — small local spots at first and larger stores in the spring. At the taproom, the experimentation will continue.

“We can come up with an idea and have that product done and selling in a couple of weeks,” Correll says.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Light That Fire: Six Richmond Winter Seasonal Beers to Warm Your Solstice

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Winter seasonals offer beer-lovers an adjunct to hibernation. Cravings shift to richer, deeper beers, to strong ales suitable for sipping such as imperial stouts, flavored porters, barley wines and bocks, some barrel-aged and others with tastes of the holiday. The Richmond area’s newest breweries have your winter cravings covered.

  • Scott Elmquist

Dam Sturgeon
10.3 percent alcohol
Ammo Brewing, Petersburg

The smooth, rich, creamy malt notes of this imperial chocolate stout can make you feel as if you’re floating gracefully across the stage like the Nutcracker prince, while the daring, dark, smoky flavor conjures visions of the Mouse King. Because Ammo doesn’t yet distribute, you’ll need to visit its Old Town Petersburg taproom for the full experience.

  • Scott Elmquist

Dark Ages Imperial Maple Brown
8.7 percent alcohol
Castleburg Brewery & Taproom, Richmond

A hint of roast from brown malts, the sweet, earthy tasty of Vermont maple syrup and a hint of cinnamon — this rich, imperial ale is reminiscent of wandering through a quiet forest on an early winter afternoon. Castleburg has taken the recipe from its award-winning Bishop’s Brown Ale and added malt and seasonal flavorings. The brewery isn’t distributing yet, so you’ll need to enjoy Dark Ages in the tasting room or at home by the fireplace with a growler by your side.

  • Scott Elmquist

Coffee Milk Stout
5 percent alcohol
Stone Brewing Co., Richmond

Making this seasonal release even more special, the coffee that tantalizes your tongue as you sip this smooth milk stout comes from local coffee company Lamplighter Roasting Co. The touch of bitterness from the coffee — apparent but not overwhelming — and the creamy sweetness of the milk sugars make bittersweet a pleasure. Big in taste, deceptively low in alcohol.

  • Scott Elmquist

Lucky 45 Graham Cracker Porter
6.8 percent alcohol
Trapezium Brewing Co., Petersburg

Richer than the average porter, Trapezium’s dark seasonal beer leaves the taste of honey grahams on the back of the palate, like a chocolate-covered cookie. Pair it with a brick-oven pizza from the Trapezium kitchen or look for it at other Petersburg restaurants for a trip beyond the familiar.

  • Scott Elmquist

Belsnickel Weizenbock
8 percent alcohol
Kindred Spirit Brewing, Goochland

Inspired by the crotchety German Christmas folklore figure — see YouTube for Dwight’s memorable portrayal in “The Office” — Kindred Spirit’s wheat bock offers a full-bodied mouth feel with spicy, clovelike notes and a rich, satisfying malty finish. Per German guidelines, this amber beer is made with 50 percent wheat and with ale yeast.

  • Ash Daniel

The Dawson Sweet Potato Ale
6.5 percent alcohol
Steam Bell Beer Works, Chesterfield

The ubiquitous sweet potato casserole isn’t always a welcome guest at family holidays. Such is the tale behind the Dawson, named for founder Brad Cooper’s grandmother, who tried in vain to appeal to her grandchildren with a variety of holiday dishes with the bright orange root vegetable as star. Finally, Cooper says, he found a worthy sweet potato recipe — in a beer. Brewed with an amber ale base, it presents a caramel nose and finish, with a touch of earthiness from sweet potatoes, squash, sorghum syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds — yet without the spices that can sometimes overpower seasonal gourd-based beers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Thursday, Dec. 8
Christmas caroling has fallen by the wayside, but if you’re in the mood to belt out a few bars of “Joy to the World” or softly sing “Away in the Manger” — with feeling — while raising a glass with a few friends and friends-to-be, Center of the Universe Brewing Co. can make that happen. You don’t need talent, but you do need enthusiasm for a Beer and Hymns Christmas taking place on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 6-8:30 p.m. cotubrewing.com.

Friday, Dec. 9
It was Dec. 5, 1933, and Congress, after 13 long years, finally ended Prohibition. If you think that’s a date worth remembering, you’re not alone. Blue Bee Cider wants to celebrate with you at its new digs in Scott’s Addition. It has asked James River Cellars Winery, Isley Brewing Co. and Black Heath Meadery to join them, and you can enjoy the local libations with a few hors d’oeuvres while you tap your toe to live music. And for those who really want to drill down on the Prohibition-ending 21st Amendment, the Virginia Historical Society will be there at 7 p.m. to provide all the details. The celebration takes place on Friday, Dec. 9, and will last from 6-9 p.m. bluebeecider.com.

Saturday, Dec. 10
If you love beer, you probably have someone else in your life who’s pretty fond of it, too. Sure, you can wrap up just about anything and palm it off as a holiday gift, but if someone is expecting a little something from you this year, you can head over to Ardent Craft Ales on Saturday, Dec. 10, between 1-6 p.m. for its annual Beer Craft Market. You can pick up artisan-made openers, fancy growlers, glasses and beer-centric art. Added bonus: Ardent will release a limited run of Imperial Milk Stout, too. ardentcraftales.com.

Saturday, Dec. 17
Richmond chefs and bakers are firing up their ovens — or at least, thinking about it. On Saturday, Dec. 17, from noon-4 p.m., the Answer Brewpub will throw a party for Terrapin Beer Co.’s Wake ‘n’ Bake-Off. Brew Gastropub, the Camel, Goodrich Gourmet Catering Co., Idle Hands Bread Co., Sergio’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Tricycle Gardens and Uptown Market & Deli will whip up special dishes that include a not-so-secret ingredient, Terrapin beer. You can expect live music and an auction that includes a corn hole set, backpacks and gifts, with 10 percent of the proceeds to benefit the Richmond SPCA. theanswerbrewpub.com.

Monday, Dec. 19
Garden Grove Brewing Co’s ongoing Taproom Dinner Series will host Dutch and Co.’s Caleb Shriver and Phillip Perrow and their new American cuisine for a five-course dinner paired with the brewery’s beer at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19. Tickets are $38 plus tax and tip. Reservations are required. gardengrovebrewing.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Four Virginia Summer Brews Worth Trying

When the weather heats up, cool down with these frosty, frothy friends.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Nothing pairs better with warmer temperatures and longer days than a cold beer. The River City is busting at the seams with suds and there are plenty of thirsty folks to consume all of the offerings. With the shelves and taps filling up with a load of crisp seasonal ales and hop bombs, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. We’re here to help. Whether you’re a fan of an easy drinker down by the river or seeking out the next hoppy assault on your palate, Virginia breweries new and old are serving up something sure to please and occasionally surprise.

  • Starr Hill Brewery

The Hook by Starr Hill Brewery
4.9 percent
Grapefruit session IPA

For a session beer, there’s a lot going on with the Hook. Deep gold and tasty, this American IPA balances a fresh bouquet of Apollo, Citra and Mosaic hops with the bite of grapefruit, courtesy of real zest added to the brew. The up-front tanginess mellows out as this medium-bodied brew swirls on the palate and finishes semi-dry and surprisingly earthy. It has nice lacing in a glass, but doesn’t suffer if consumed straight from the bottle down by the water. As it’s aptly named, you’ll be back for more than one of these.

  • Scott Elmquist

Crucial Taunt by the Veil
8 percent alcohol
Double IPA

Holy dankity deliciousness! Since its opening, this beer has been adored by those who stand in lines wrapped around the Scott’s Addition brewery to get their hands on it. The cans sell out as soon as they’re available, and this Northeastern-style concoction has already been called “liquid perfection” by some fans. So what’s the deal? It’s a double-IPA-lovers’ dream that pours hazy gold with a creamy head and delivers a citrus smack followed by a piney punch with unparalleled freshness. Seriously, it’s like eating a salad. For all of its hop forwardness, it’s easy on the palate with medium body and carbonation. The Veil gets major bonus points for the “Wayne’s World” reference. Party on, y’all.

  • Scott Elmquist

Little Flowers by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
5.4 percent alcohol

Some of the best things are the simple ones done just right. It’s fitting that Hardywood’s latest release in the Brewer and Artist series pairs Justin Anderson’s bottle-conditioned saison with the label work of Lakeside Tattoo’s traditional design master, Rempe. Both are unfussy and straightforward in their craft. Anderson’s creation pours straw gold with a beautiful pillowy head. It’s crisp and semi-dry with a lean mouth feel, making it ideal for the dog days of summer porch sitting. Spicy and earthy tones are prominent, though the discerning drinker likely will detect a smidge of tartness characteristic of this style. The finish is pure, soft maltiness and absolutely delightful.

  • Scott Elmquist

Black Knight IPA by Castleburg Brewery and Taproom
6.7 percent alcohol
Cascadian dark ale

New kid on the local block Castleburg is coming out of the gate strong with this flagship beer. Some call it Cascadian dark ale, others call it black IPA, but everyone likely will agree that it’s distinctive and a welcome sight this time of year, when light-bodied and über-hoppy dominates. A Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook hops combo yields an organic and piney profile with floral notes. There’s a hint of citrus, but the take-away here is the earthy goodness that pours opaque and lands silky on the palate. According to owner and brewer Karl Homburg, the combination of dark malts from England and Germany give this beer its dark roasted chocolate and coffee notes that balance it all out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Five Don’t-Miss Events for Richmond Beer Lovers

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 11:00 AM

June 19
Center of the Universe is ready to fill your dad up with beer and barbecue on Father’s Day, and you can impress him with your thoughtfulness by grabbing him the Ultimate Dad Ticket for the second annual Dad’s Day Pig Out. It includes a limited edition Universe’s Greatest Dad mug, which can be filled with a free beer, plus a plate of food from Firehouse Bar-B-Que — whole pigs will be roasting on-site Sunday, June 19, from noon-6 p.m. $20. Center of the Universe Brewing Co. 11293 Air Park Road, Ashland. Call 368-0299 or visit cotubrewing.com.

June 19
If your father would rather have a taste of the sea, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is holding its annual Father’s Day Keg ’n’ Oyster Fest with raw and fried oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Co. and a specially brewed Hardywood Oyster Stout on Sunday, June 19, from noon to 6. Proceeds will benefit oyster replenishment and the James River Association. Free. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, 2408 Ownby Lane. Call 420-2420 or visit hardywood.com.

June 20
The best way to try four-time James Beard Award nominee Dale Reitzer’s food is when he goes off menu to create a five-course pairing. The Acacia Mid-Town chef will match food with Garden Grove Brewing Co.’s best in its Carytown taproom on Monday, June 20, from 7-10 p.m. Reservations are required. $38, plus tax and tip. Garden Grove Brewing Co. 3445 W. Cary St. Call 918-6158 or visit gardengrovebrewing.com.

June 26
The Savory Grain and Isley Brewing Co. will join for their Southern Seafood Boil on Sunday, June 26, from 7-9 p.m. You’ll find two community tables — one in the tasting room and the other outside, “piled high with crawfish that will be purchased fresh June 26, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn,” event coordinator Jaymie Mitchell says. $35. Isley Brewing Co., 1715 Summit Ave. Visit isleybrewingcompany.com or thesavorygrain.com.

July 13-16
The Capital Ale House National Beer Expo comes along only once a year, so mark your calendars. It all starts with the Craft Brewers’ Locavore Dinner at Quirk Hotel’s Maple & Pine on Wednesday, July 13, at 6 p.m. There will be brewery parties the next night, and on Friday, July 15, you can head down to the Greater Richmond Convention Center to visit Style Weekly’s Taco Throwdown at 6 p.m. On Saturday, July 16, you can sip your way through the big convention hall at the Grand Tasting. And new this year, the Farm Country Feast on Saturday night will feature Southern, soul and Cajun food. $45-$85. Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. Third St. Call 349-6909 or visit nationalbeerexpo.com.

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