Last call: Local brewery news roundup for 2019


Richbrau’s roots in Richmond go back to the 1930’s. (BizSense file photo)

A decade ago, there were no neighborhood brewery tours in Richmond. The term “triple crossing” was still just the name of where some railroad tracks intersected downtown. And out-of-town breweries certainly didn’t have eyes for local outposts.

Things have changed quite a bit, with 38 breweries now operating in the region. 2019 marks the end to an action-packed decade for a budding local industry. And with 2020 upon us, we take a look back on all the booze news from the last 12 months.

Tabol Brewing’s Nic Caudle and Travis Dise (BizSense file photo)

Newcomers …

Six new breweries fired up fermenters in the Richmond area last year.

Richbrau Brewing was brought back from the dead in Shockoe Bottom, Tabol Brewing opened its doors in Northside with a focus on barrel-aged, wild yeast beers, and Molly’s Blind Dog Brewery opened inside a bike shop in Chester.

Scott’s Addition further cemented its status as the city’s most brewery-dense neighborhood after Main Line Brewery, Strangeways Brewing and Starr Hill Brewing opened. There are now 11 breweries in the roughly 200-acre neighborhood.

Three new breweries opened in Scott’s Addition this year. (BizSense file photos)

… And goers

It wasn’t all roses for local brewers, though. After years of gangbusters growth, the craft beer industry has slowed a bit nationwide, and the churn hit the Richmond region. One planned brewery failed to even materialize.

Safety Team Brewing Co. was set to open on Brookland Park Boulevard, but plans for that fell through in the spring due to excessive project costs. However, Brandon Tolbert, who was behind Safety Team, has started Short Throw Brewing Co., which will rely on a contract brewer from out of town to produce its beers.

Safety Team Brewing Co. had been planning to open on the site of an old car wash along Brookland Park Boulevard. (BizSense file photo)

Charlottesville-based Champion Brewing Co. closed its downtown Richmond taproom, while Ammo Brewing shut down in Petersburg, both after three years in operation. Richmond-based Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is closing its satellite Charlottesville taproom by year-end, just shy of three years in business.

Hardywood

Speaking of Hardywood, the brewery had a lot going besides its Charlottesville closure. In May it announced plans to add a restaurant at its Goochland facility, an endeavor it’s taking on with local chef Joe Sparatta. The brewery has raised $766,000 in investor funding to help complete the to-be-named restaurant.

Suncrush initially rolled out a tangerine ale. (Courtesy Kate Magee)

Hardywood also began distributing its spinoff beer brand, Suncrush, added cider to its offerings and brewed up a beer in collaboration with Wawa and Pennsylvania’s 2SP Brewing Co.

How you like them apples?

Local cideries have kept plenty busy this year as well.

Bryant’s Cider is moving its tasting room from Jackson Ward to Shockoe Bottom, Blue Bee Cider got an onsite neighbor in Truckle Cheesemongers, and Courthouse Creek Cider is expanding its facility in Maidens after it added gluten-free beer to its taps.

Bryant’s Cider’s future home is adjacent to Nota Bene Restaurant & Bar. (BizSense file photo)

Scott’s Addition’s Buskey Cider also bolstered its production capacity after buying tanks from the now-defunct Convergent Coffee Co. Buskey used the new gear to produce a 100-calorie cider, a seeming response to the national hard seltzer craze.

Richmond also caught the eye of D.C.-based Anxo Cider, which leased space for keg and can storage in Southside. The company alluded to further plans for the Richmond market but they remain unclear.

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