The MidAtlantic has a plethora of award winning craft breweries. Small towns and large cities in the region are enjoying the growth of boutique beer manufacturers, and these brewers are catering to an enthusiastic population of beer connoisseurs. While each community has its favorites, it’s hard to dispute Richmond’s increasing superiority in the craft beer world. Here are some tips on where to drink premier beer and have a fun vacation in Virginia’s capital of the Commonwealth.
The Richmond Beer Trail currently features twenty notable craft breweries. In the last decade, new and established breweries have popped up across the city bringing vitality and first class beer tasting to several previously neglected neighborhoods. An industrial park called Scott’s Addition is now the scene of Richmond’s most obvious renaissance, thanks to the intriguing breweries and cideries making their home here.
Just a few blocks from Richmond’s museum district, Scott’s Addition is the place for beer enthusiasts, and you’ll see a roving band of revelers move from brewery to brewery sampling locally made beer in Richmond’s eclectic tasting rooms. Ardent Craft Ales has a party-like atmosphere where beer enthusiasts relax and enjoy their seasonal and Saison-style beers with complex flavors, including their tasty Honey Ginger beer, a deep gold-colored brew made with local honey. Ardent rotates a selection of IPA’s ranging from piney to flowery to grassy.
The Veil Brewing Company is probably the craft brewery with the most buzz. To sample one of their beers requires a visit to the Tasting Room, because they don’t sell retail versions of their hop-forward beer. They’re known for barrel aging, wild ales and spontaneous fermentation, and their fizzy golden beers are served in elegant goblets. There’s almost always a line here, so try to make this your first or last stop.
Although not a brewery, Blue Bee Cidery is Virginia’s first urban cidery. Blue Bee showcases their complex, fine ciders made from heirloom apples inside the taproom. Courtney Mailey, founder of Blue Bee, recently partnered with Catoctin Creek Distillery of Purcellville to make brandy-infused cider called Harvest Ration, which won the 2017 Good Food Award. Blue Bee offers tours and guided tastings of their artisanal ciders in a historic stable built in the 1940’s.
In the heart of downtown Richmond is the most welcoming brewery, in my opinion, Triple Crossing Brewing. From a little Tasting Room near the Governor’s Mansion to a full-fledged pizza and beer pub in the Fulton neighborhood, Triple Crossing makes exceptionally good IPAs, as well as traditional English ales and stouts. Richmond’s famous baker of Billy Bread is also the food purveyor at Triple Crossing.
Richmond’s father of the local craft beer movement is Vietnamese immigrant An Bui who opened his beer-centric restaurant Mekong in 1995. Craftbeer.com named Mekong the number one “Great American Beer Bar” for two years in a row, thanks to the restaurant’s expansive selection of 56 rare international and local beers on tap. Next, Bui unveiled The Answer Brewpub, his own craft brewery that connects to the popular restaurant. The brewpub is a favorite place to hear live music and meet like-minded beer fanatics, along with eating exceptionally fresh Vietnamese cuisine.
Richmond’s biggest news was landing Stone Brewery’s East Coast headquarters. Stone’s tours are the best deal in town, because for $3 you get a tour and a taste of three of their signature beers on tap. The huge, modern yet rustic brewery is opening a waterfront beer garden in 2018 featuring farm to table cuisine infused with beer. This is a family and pet friendly gathering place for Richmond residents and promises to attract lots of beer tourists.
If you think food is as important as beer, put 7 Hills Brewing Company in Shockoe Bottom with its a popular seafood brunch buffet.
Clearly, if you love craft beer, you’ll love a trip to Richmond. And if you want to treat yourself to the best place to stay in town, try the Jefferson Hotel, the epitome of luxury and comfort. Great food too!
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.