Many local booze-makers have reason to raise a glass to another busy year for Richmond’s breweries, cideries and distilleries.
Breweries born anew
This year brought about the first casualties of the local beer boom that’s been going strong since around 2012.
But their storefronts and gear wouldn’t sit vacant for long. ShipLock Brewing went on to take 7 Hills’ space, while Waynesboro’s Basic City Brewing Co. snagged Twisted Ales’ for a satellite location. Both breweries are now open.
Meanwhile, one of the region’s brewing pioneers will soon get new life in Shockoe Bottom. Richbrau, whose roots date back to the 1930’s, is being brought back by Matthew Mullett, Brian McCauley and Hank Schmidt. Richbrau secured its new home at 5 S. 20th St. in the fall with eyes on an early 2019 opening.
New taps pouring
The largest new addition to the local brewery scene in 2018 was Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s $28 million West Creek production facility in Goochland, which opened in April. With the new facility up and running, Hardywood promptly got busy working on spinoff brands for cider and “crushable” beer.
The Fan got its first brewery in years, when Canon & Draw Brewing Co. opened in March. The venture is from Brittany and Brad Cooper, the sibling duo that owns Steam Bell Beer Works in Chesterfield.
It wouldn’t be a year of brewery news without some action in Scott’s Addition, where restaurant-arcade-brewery combo Bingo Beer Co. opened in November at 2900 W. Broad St.
Cider and liquor get some love
It wasn’t just new breweries joining the scene in 2018. A handful of cideries and distilleries opened in the Richmond region as well.
On the cider front, Goochland-based Courthouse Creek Cider opened a satellite taproom a few blocks west from Bingo in The Highpoint building at 3300 W. Broad St.
Bryant’s Small Batch Cider, a cidery based in Roseland, Virginia, also opened a tasting room in Jackson Ward.
Liquor lovers got some new options locally as Virago Spirits and Three Crosses Distillery opened facilities near The Diamond and in Powhatan, respectively, while Bombolini Pasta launched Trial & Error distillery within its Fan pasta shop.
Stone Bistro stuck in purgatory
The next phase of Stone Brewing Co.’s planned local footprint – a bistro and taproom concept to be built in the long dormant Intermediate Terminal building at 3101 E. Main St. – was initially planned to open in the first quarter of 2018.
Instead, it was put on ice, where it would remain through all of 2018 thanks to a muddied debate over whether the century-old building is unfit for conversion. The city and Stone began seeking City Council approval to amend the 2016 agreement to allow for the demolition of the Intermediate Terminal to make way for a new, smaller bistro.
The legislation got repeatedly kicked down the road in the ensuing months, with both parties claiming that the holdup was due to fixing the technical language in the agreement.
As 2019 approaches, it’s unclear what the future holds for the project. After 10 delays, Council finally seemed set to vote on the matter in November. But on the eve of the vote, Stone itself asked for the proposal to be pulled so it can “further consider the current proposal and other options for bringing a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens experience to Richmond.”