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Richmond’s ‘exploding beer scene’ makes national press

PHOTO CREDIT: Isley Brewing Co.

PHOTO CREDIT: Isley Brewing Co.

RICHMOND, Va. – The national press has long applauded Richmond’s local dining scene, and the booming craft beverage scene in Scott’s Addition was just recently highlighted.

Click for interactive content.

Click for interactive content.

That’s right Richmond, there are now so many craft beverage makers in the historic Scott’s Addition area that the Washington Post ran a lifestyles feature on the “cutting-edge craft beers, Virginia ciders, even mead and whiskey” that can be found within the tiny beverage paradise.

In February, we wrote about the breweries that have flocked to the area since Isley Brewing Co. first rolled the dice and opened in Oct. 2013 – JUST THREE YEARS AGO. Ardent Craft Ales, Black Heath Meadery, Buskey Cider, Blue Bee Cider, Veil Brewing Co. and Three Notch’d RVA Collab House followed over the next three years — the latter four all opened in 2016. Vasen Brewing Co. plans to open by early 2017.

Reservoir Distillery was truly the first to hunker down in the industrial area, in 2009, though they only recently opened a tasting room on Summit Avenue.

By our calculations, there is a craft beverage maker for approximately every 437 residents in Scott’s Addition. Almost a third of all the beers or ciders produced in the Richmond-metro area (city, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland) are made in Scott’s Addition. Within Richmond’s 60 square miles, there is one brewery per 10,000 adults,  based on 2010 Census data that excludes people under the age of 20. ***

As the WaPo pointed out, the entire Richmond scene is booming — you can find all the local breweries below, on a map we created earlier this year – but Scott’s Addition is one of the few places where you could spend the day walking from spot to spot. In fact, within a two-mile radius,  there are 11 breweries.

Though many changes have occurred relatively quickly in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood, collaboration has been a consistent ingredient shared amongst many of the local makers taking roost, which we wrote about here, last week. 

The WaPo honed in on that in their article.

The tasting rooms in Scott’s Addition share what [Courtney ] Mailey calls “a strong sense of independence,” but they’ve also developed an interesting symbiotic relationship.

“Our business is bumping up every time someone opens,” says Ardent co-founder Tom Sullivan. “With the Veil, you can literally look down the street and see people walking up the street [to our taproom] from their direction.”

The Veil co-founder Dustin Durrance says it’s not a one-way street: “Ardent’s anniversary party [in June] was one of our biggest days,” he said, fueled by out-of-towners who came for the second annual event.

WaPo writer Fritz Kahn interviewed Ardent Co-founder Tom Sullivan on what the area was like in the 90s, and what it was like just ahead of the beer boom – or “malt-rush.”

At first, “it was a bit of a zombie wasteland, to be honest with you,” Sullivan says. Isley Brewing had opened the previous fall and was making beers such as Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Oatmeal Stout a five-minute walk away, but Sullivan remembers “empty city buildings with grass three feet high on the sidewalk.” The neighborhood remains a mix of anonymous low-slung industrial buildings, parking lots and new construction but this year has seen a steady stream of restaurant openings, including Peter Chang Cafe and Boulevard Burger & Brew, as well as announcements about condos and CrossFit studios.

Four stops were recommended by the WaPo: Ardent Craft Ales, Blue Bee Cider, Three Notch’d Collab House, and The Veil. Below is a map of all the local watering holes, not just those in Scott’s Addition.

  1. 7 Hills Brewing Co.
  2. Ardent Craft Ales
  3. The Answer Brewpub
  4. Black Heath Meadery
  5. Blue Bee
  6. Buskey Cider
  7. Castleburg Brewery and Taphouse
  8. Center of the Universe
  9. Extra Billy’s
  10. Final Gravity Brewing Company
  11. Garden Grove
  12. Hardywood
  13. Isley Brewing Co.
  14. Kindred Spirit
  15. Lickinghole Creek Craft Beer
  16. Legend
  17. Midnight Brewery
  18. Rock Bottom Brewery
  19. Rusty Beaver
  20. Strangeways Brewing
  21. Steam Bell Beer Works
  22. Stone Brewing
  23. Three Notch’d
  24. Triple Crossing
  25. Vasen ***
  26. The Veil Brewing Co.
    ***To open soon

*Editor’s note.  BJs Brewhouse in Henrico doesn’t brew on location. Hardywood and Triple Crossing will both have two locations this year, but were only counted once.

**The exact number is one brewery per 10, 413 persons.

Did we miss one? Is there one that will open this year? We will update this list, so send us an email.