Origin Beer Lab is named deliberately.
With glassware that looks like graduated cylinders, and beers named like elements from the periodic table, Center of the Universe Brewing’s (COTU) new satellite location will be a laboratory for experimenting with small batches of new beers once it fully opens to the public next month.
COTU co-owner Chris Ray said Origin has been open on a limited basis since November, but grand opening events from Feb. 3-5 will mark the beginning of Origin’s normal schedule and full offerings.
A big part of Origin will be education, Ray said. It will offer classes through Cicerone, a sommelier program for beer, as well as less formal classes for home brewers interested in learning more. Both brands of classes will be free to attend.
“Education, and helping people learn what makes good craft beer good, is going to help craft brewers in the entire Richmond region,” said Ray.
Origin took over a renovated 2,000-square-foot space in downtown Ashland at 106 S. Railroad Ave. The beers will be in limited runs, and simply named. For example, a planned light golden ale will be called LB1, or, Light Beer 1.
“We’ll never brew the same thing twice,” Ray said. None of Origin’s beers will be available anywhere else.
It’s a part of Center of the Universe’s desire to push beyond its flagship beers, Ray said.
“Pocahoptas IPA is our workhorse, but there’s a lot of good beer out there right now. We can’t just rest on our laurels,” he said.
At the February launch, Origin will roll out at least eight beers, including a kettle sour, double IPA, Belgian ale, and cream ale (or, LB2).
Origin Beer Lab will be open from Wednesdays to Sundays.
The full opening comes on the heels of a productive 2016 for Center of the Universe. Over the summer, it expanded distribution into Northern Virginia, brought canning operations in-house, and renovated and expanded its home base at 11293 Air Park Road in Ashland.
Ray said the company hopes to expand distribution this year into Washington, D.C. and parts of Maryland.