As recently as 2010, there was only ONE brewery in the city of Richmond.
The capital of Virginia possesses a long and storied history when it comes to the adding of yeast to wort, stretching back centuries to the days of David G. Yuengling Jr. and his massive James River Steam Brewery, but as in so many other cities, the period of consolidation following national Prohibition spelled an end to local brewing efforts for many decades. It wasn’t until 1994 when Richmond’s oldest operating brewery, Legend Brewing Co., kicked off the city’s modern craft beer revival, but for a long time the going was very slow. Finally, a trickle of openings in 2011 and 2012 gave way to a flood of new Virginia breweries, helped along by 2012 legislation that finally allowed the sale and sampling of beer on brewery premises. The stage was set for an explosion of high-profile brewery openings that mirrored the simultaneous growth of beer scenes in other cities such as Chicago, Seattle or Atlanta.
Today, there are almost 40 breweries in the immediate Richmond vicinity, including quite a few that have made persistent national buzz, slowly making the city into a bonafide beer geek road trip destination, among the finest on the East Coast in terms of volume and quality. Here at Paste, we’ve come to know a number of Richmond breweries quite well through our large-scale blind tastings and rankings, which have included prominent finishes in a variety of blind tastings for breweries such as Triple Crossing, The Veil, Hardywood Park and Final Gravity Brewing Co. It has, in short, been a remarkable decade of growth for the Richmond beer scene, especially considering that the city’s population is still less than 230,000. Outside of perhaps Asheville, NC, there are few cities with a more impressive, higher quality brewery-per-capita ratio.
How fortunate, then, that Richmond, Virginia also happens to be where I now reside! Arriving in 2019, I immediately set about the task of visiting every possible brewery, with the eventual goal of writing this exact city beer guide. Since then, I’ve seen both new brewery openings and brewery closures, and I can now report that I have visited every single one of them, 37 in total (for now), which is a checklist that even many longtime RVA beer geeks probably haven’t gotten around to completing. The time had come to finally put pen to paper, as it were. Sadly, several breweries have shut down since I started writing this—the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in that to be certain.
Some of the breweries in this guide are located within what anyone would recognize as “urban Richmond.” Some are on its outskirts. Some are quite a distance away, but located in small towns that are still considered to be within the gravitational pull of Richmond. Regardless, in every single case I have physically visited the brewery and sampled a variety of its beers. For each brewery I’ll give at least a basic description of its vibe and its beer lineup, along with any notable beers they produce. Note: This isn’t including Richmond’s impressive cider scene, which can boast half a dozen cideries of its own. The only breweries not included are corporate chain brewpubs and brewpubs with only a minor beer focus.
Read the guide here >>> by Jim Vorel, Paste