Virginia has become a major craft beer destination, and Richmond sits at the center of the ever-expanding industry. With more than twenty breweries, including Stone’s new East Coast production facility, the Richmond Beer Trail begins to look more and more daunting to any day-tripper. Richmond’s helpful map (and free shirt if you visit five breweries) is more than enough to encourage travelers to find ever wonderful brewery that the city offers. Here are five must-visit spaces for your trip (and t-shirt).
The Veil Brewing Company
If you find yourself planning a trip, planning around a can release at the Veil is a safe bet. Though not even a year old, the Veil is easily one of the most hyped breweries in the United States. Behind their phenomenally fruity IPAs, thirst-quenching sours, and decadent stouts is Matt Tarpey, whose resume rattles off names like Cantillon, Hill Farmstead, and The Alchemist. In addition to the incredibly good beer. the taproom is modern and gorgeous, and a charcuterie plate with your mind-blowing IPA never hurt anyone. It’s hard to recommend just one beer to keep an eye out for, so really it’s just best to work through the entire phenomenal menu.
The Answer Brewpub
Sitting behind his outstanding Mekong restaurant, An Bui’s brewpub is a colorful contrast to the black and concrete of The Veil. While their juicy IPAs are front and center on the draft list, the real star of the show is the Andall series. Smooth stouts are pumped through coffee, chocolate, or coconut (sometimes all three) and sours are shot through strained through fruit for fresh and unique flavors. Flights of all of these beers are recommended if not necessary. In addition to the exceptional draft list, the Answer boasts a delicious menu complete with enormous bahn mis and savory pho. Make sure to take home a crowler of any one of their insanely dry-hopped IPAs.
Triple crossing actually has two distinct locations in Richmond, but the key difference between them is their food menu. Their downtown brewpub and tasting room features crispy grilled cheese sandwiches while their 20 Barrel brewhouse is home to Neapolitan-style brick oven pizza. More importantly, though, both locations feature the same delicious beer. In addition to a killer single hop series, Triple Crossing features wonderful fruited sours if you need a break from IPAs. Look for their Paranoid Aledroid, a wheat ale loaded with Citra hops as a counterpart to your bourbon bacon grilled cheese.
While Lickinghole Creek is a bit out of the city in Goochland (yes, all of these names are real), their beer is more than worth the trip. The biologically-friendly brewery itself sits on a farm, where ingredients for their estate series are sourced. Their stouts, including GABF Silver winning Heir Apparent and Russian Imperial stout Virginia Black Bear, are continually sought after as examples of phenomenal flavored stouts. Heir Apparent features a Mexican spice blend with a perfectly balanced sweetness and heat, which come together under a light roast to make a dangerously drinkable imperial stout.
Ardent Craft Ales
If you’re able to make it back to Richmond proper after a few glasses of Heir Apparent, Ardent Craft Ales is a gorgeous place to end your night. Featuring a low-key and low-lit atmosphere, Ardent is wonderful place to wind down with their thoughtful saisons or rye beers, or enjoy a Mexican hot chocolate version of their Imperial Milk Stout. If you’re lucky enough to see it on draft, their Buffalo Trace barrel-aged Honey Ginger is a contemplative and complex beer that demands your undivided attention and will win the heart of any bourbon lover. Underneath the orange glow of soft incandescent lights, Ardent is the perfect way to wind down a whirlwind day of Southern drinking.