With spring approaching, a local brewery is taking its spinoff beer brand on the road.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has begun distributing Suncrush, an offshoot line of sparkling ales that it began producing last year.
Suncrush beer will be distributed throughout Virginia, many major markets in North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, matching the distribution map of Hardywood’s other beers.
Founders Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh launched the Suncrush brand last summer. The idea came from a discussion about what the perfect beach beer would look and taste like. They since have been peddling cans of Suncrush from its local tasting rooms.
“We were quietly selling (Suncrush) through the taproom to kind of gauge feedback and see what people thought,” McKay said. “It was something we thought would have the potential to get to distribution.”
After initially rolling out a tangerine ale, Suncrush since has added six other versions, including lemon raspberry, cranberry, black cherry and ginger lime.
Suncrush is signed with locally-based Brown Distributing to sell in Richmond and Northern Virginia, which would put the cans primarily in stores and potentially in restaurants, McKay said.
With hard sparkling water brands such as White Claw Hard Seltzer and Truly Spiked & Sparkling Water gaining in popularity, McKay said they felt there’s room in the market for a beer that appeals to non-beer drinkers.
“Hard sparkling water certainly is an exploding category … But Suncrush is something that has a bit more flavor and is still really refreshing,” he said. “We thought it belonged in its own distinct category with the target audience being broader than just craft beer enthusiasts.”
Hardywood also began plotting a cider brand in 2018, dubbed West Creek Cider Co. McKay said things are moving along with that product and that they hope to roll it out this summer.
“We’re working toward, very slowly, perfecting a recipe using all Virginia apples. The cider will only be at (Hardywood) taprooms,” McKay said.
Hardywood also is planning an amphitheater for its Goochland production facility, which opened last year. McKay said they’re still in the planning phase for the music venue and don’t have a formal update on it.