The Easy End of the Semester RVA Brewery Guide
Contributing Writer Nicolas De Souza
Richmond was called “one of the region’s fastest growing beer scenes” by the Wall Street Journal in 2016. The decision to open Stone Brewing Co.’s first East Coast Distribution center in Richmond this February shows that the beer scene here is growing and even booming.
With over ten breweries in the area it can be a little overwhelming for those 21 and older to know how to get started.
Fear not for Shafer Bird is here to help you figure out what brewery is right for you.
Photo Courtesy of Ardent Brewery
Address: 3200 West Leigh Street Richmond, VA 23230
The Spring Seasonal is the Lawnmower Beer; a highly session-able American golden ale that’s perfect when taking in sunlight on their patio. This light beer would pair well with one of Ellwood Thompsons’ grab and go wraps or salads currently available at the brewery.
The Summer Seasonal is a Honey Ginger American Strong Ale, which is aged in a whisky barrel and crafted with a balanced dose of fresh ginger and local honey. Medium to high carbonation levels allow the ginger to pop for a strong yet deceptively smooth brew. This winner of the 2014 Silver Medal at the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Conference is being released June 4th.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the Defenstrator, a recent collaboration with cask café. Malty-sweet and dark like a traditional doppelbock; this beer has slight hop bitterness, prune and grape flavors all mixed together to create a medium bodied, smooth, strong and rich larger.
Photo courtesy of Garden Grove Brewing Co.
Garden Grove Brewery
Address: 3445 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221
Phone: (804) 918-6158
Garden Grove brewery is constantly coming up with new beers, has just opened a bottle shop and allows a unique bring-your-own-food policy.
One of their recent releases is the Sunkissed Sparkler. Part of their sparkler series, this gluten free beverage incorporates lots of honey and is more like a cider or sparkling wine. Another one of Garden Grove’s latest releases is the Cellar Saison. Spicer fruitier and drier than their flagship farmhouse saison, this pale ale-esque beer is aged in a 2013 French oak Russian River Valley Pinot Noir wine barrel to bring out wood and red wine flavors in the beer. If this beer sounds right for you it may just be the season to try their saison.
Another interesting release occurred during a beer dinner with Chef Craig Perkinson from Southbound April 18th. The Belgian IPA made with kumquats has a bright acidity that married well with the hops in this on of a kind IPA.
Keep an eye out for a Vermouth Garden Grove is crafting in collaboration with the Roosevelt’s head mixologist T Leggett. Enjoy this and other releases while listening to some bluegrass jam sessions Tuesdays and larger bands Thursdays and Fridays. Check out a detailed overview of their beers in their beer explorer and don’t hesitate to stop by for their tasty and olfactory events this summer.
Photo courtesy of Hardywood Brewery
Address: 2408-2410 Ownby Lane, Richmond, VA 23220
All of Hardywood’s seasonal beers are part of their reserve series and each release features a fresh locally sourced ingredient. Whether its blackberries from Agriberry Farms or coffee from Lamplighter, Hardywood is always experimenting.
List of Hardywood beer releases:
April 2 – Hardywood Foolery (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels)
April 9 – Capital Trail Pale Ale (benefitting the VA Capital Trail) + Berliner Weisse
April 23 – *New Reserve Series release: Smoked Doppelbock
May 7 – Bourbon Cru (Barrel aged Belgian Quad)
May 28 – Peach Tripel
June 25 – Vinalia Urbana (Belgian-style Golden Ale aged in white wine barrels)
July 16 – Virginia Blackberry
All ages are welcome to their events. Every Thursday evening, Food Truck Court features 16 different trucks and every Friday – Sunday, Hardywood hosts free live music of all sorts. For those beer enthusiasts who are of age, they offer tours, a stacked taproom and beer releases celebrated with eclectic food truck menus and a wide variety of free live music.
Address: 1712 Summit Ave. Richmond, VA 23230
Isley Brewing’s Spring Seasonal is a ginger golden ale called The Root of All Evil. Sweet, sassy, full of spice and refreshing; allow the crisp sensations of lemon, orange, cinnamon and yes, ginger, remind you that summer is on the way at Isley Brewing Co.
Their Summer Seasonal is a grapefruit session pale ale with a citrus kick and a smooth finish called Ruby Red Slippers. This beer has a light body, moderate bitterness and a low hop profile; perfect for long afternoons on the patio.
Check out the VooDoo Lady Red Imperial IPA; one of their latest releases, this big hoppy red monster has a deep amber color, with strong hop flavors and aromas. If that’s not your thing, stop by for music during their upcoming beer releases on Saturdays.
Photo Courtesy of Legend Brewery
Address: 321 West 7th Street Richmond, VA 23224
Phone: 804 – 232- 3446
Their Spring Seasonal is the Utebier; an ale that pours a deep orange color which feels crisp and refreshing as it hits your tongue. Honey malts give it a delicate sweetness which is balanced by a subtle hop bite. Additional Amarillo hops are added towards the end of the boil to bring out a light, tropical aroma.
The Summer Seasonal is the Z Dam Ale, a crisp pale-gold ale with a light body and clean malt flavor with a little ginger, orange and lime zest. The name is based on the Z Dam damn going across the James River to Williams Island.
Go to Legend Brewery for a great view on downtown Richmond from their outdoor patio. While you’re out there don’t hesitate to try their one of a kind Brussel sprouts.
Photo Courtesy of Stone Brewing
Address: 4300 Williamsburg Ave., Richmond VA 23231
Stone Brewery is now open!
However, they aren’t brewing yet. Don’t be discouraged, you can find their beers available on tap at their store located at the Brewery site.
They’re going to start brewing in the next few months and will have Richmond-brewed beer available this summer. To start off they will brew: Stone IPA, Stone Delicious IPA, Stone Go To IPA, Stone Ruination Douple IPA 2.0 and of course for their infamous Arrogant Bastard Ale. If you’re curious, check their website for beer descriptions.
Address: 2277 Dabney Rd, Richmond, VA 23230
Phone: (804) 303-4336
Strangeways is the quirky place to be for the most unconventional of beers. Enjoy one of their many unorthodox concoctions on the patio or in the bar area while watching the VCU basketball game.
The Havoc Gold IPA is sure to loosen up on your taste buds with 3 different hops and 3 different citrus, spice, and white flower flavors. The Havoc Black IPA will wreak havoc on your taste buds with 7 different hops and dark malts.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the Lucky Charms Berliner Weisse. Made with traditional German woodruff syrup, it’s unlike any beer you’ve tried before. Find out for yourself if it’s truly magically delicious.
Photo courtesy of Triple Crossing
Triple Crossing Brewery
Address: 113 S Foushee St, Richmond, VA 23220
Phone: (804) 308-0475
Conveniently located off Carry a couple blocks from campus, their ever rotating draft list offers new beers monthly that taste great while on their patio during this time of the year.
For the spring try their Single Hop Saison, a classic style fermented with a French Saison yeast strain.
For the summer the Element 79 is a golden ale perfect for a sunny day. This ale has been recently crafted to have very little gluten and has been blind taste tested by third parties to ensure it retained all its flavor.
Don’t wait for the right seasonal to stop by as Triple Crossing is always coming up with new additions for any season such as their Nectar and Knife Double IPA.
Photo Courtesy of 7 Hills Brewing
7 Hills Brewery
Address: 115 S 15th St #100, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 716 – 8307
Their Spring Seasonal is the Riverside Rye Pale Ale. Rye malts give it an amber color and grapefruit among other citrus hops give this pale ale a spicy character to its smooth finish. If you’re up for something lighter than the Bosher’s Dam Berliner Weisse just many do the trick. This tart and light German wheat ale is perfect for a warm spring but not quite summer day.
The Summer Seasonal is the Texas Beach ThaIPA. This brew elicits notes of cilantro and Thai basil to an American-Style IPA.
If you’re an IPA fanatic 7 Hills recently released the beer for you. The Dead Rock Double IPA is comprised of 3 different malts to provide a backbone for this big, bold and dry hopped IPA. A firm citrus aroma with strong, resinous and dank, hop flavors pulls this hop lover’s beer together.