To many, Richmond is known as the “River City.” To others, it’s the city of hipster mustaches, intriguing murals and busy local colleges bursting at the seams with creative minds that have transformed the city’s culture. It’s the Portland of the East and the Austin of the north due to its artistic residents and foodie-focused restaurant scene.
Although Richmond operates on a hipster state of mind, there’s much more to this town than Pabst Blue Ribbon (or as Richmond-ers call it, People’s Beer of Richmond). In recent years, Richmond has become a hub for craft beer. With over 20 local breweries and counting, the city lives up to its reputation of one of the best-known and fastest-growing craft beer regions in the country.
The history of Richmond’s beer industry dates back to colonial times, but today’s community of brewers started strong in the 90s with Legend Brewing Company. In 2010, the only other brewery in town closed its doors leaving Legend without competition until 2011 when Hardywood Park Craft Brewery came to be. Since then, other brewers such as Veil, Ardent, The Answer and many more have opened their doors to share their beer with the Richmond community with many more to come.
Local brewers have identified Richmond as a place of comradery, friendship and collaboration amongst brewers. Existing brewers plan to work together to uplift one another to make the beer scene the best it can be as the community continues to grow with exciting developments ahead.
Legend Brewing Company
Legend owned the beer scene in Richmond throughout the early two thousands. Today, the brewery is still thriving, even amongst some tough competition. They began as a small tasting room and pub serving a small menu consisting of a few beers, sandwiches and fries. Today they have transformed into a complete restaurant serving up to 180 people indoors and 200 outdoors on one of the best patios in Richmond. For a great view, a great beer and a great time, look no further than Legend Brewing.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewing Company
After Legend, Hardywood was the next brewery that is still standing today to enter the scene. They’ve just recently opened their second location an hour down the road in Charlottesville, VA and are becoming more popular each day. Their mission is to brew with purpose through innovative recipes and their commitment to social responsibility. Their Christmas-themed Gingerbread Stout, a true Richmond holiday favorite, is known across the country.
The Veil Brewing Company
The Veil is pretty new in town, but they are already making a name for themselves. They opened their doors to the community in 2016 and have already been rated the third best new brewery in the world out of 6,500 competitors on Rate Beer. This recognition was based entirely from customer ratings and speaks volumes about The Veil’s focus on creating a unique brewing experience. They primarily focus on hoppy beer and IPAs but their most famous beer yet was the Hornswoggler Chocolate Milk Stout with Oreos that immediately made national headlines. They’ve created over 80 beers just in their first year, selling about anywhere from 400-600 cases through their tasting room alone, and look forward to many more to come.
The Answer Brewpub
According to this brewpub, beer is the answer. In connection with Mekong, one of Richmond’s favorite Vietnamese eateries, The Answer earned recognition as America’s Best Beer Bar two years in a row. The Answer opened in 2014 and since then has been home to 56 taps, two bars, a stage for live music and countless happy customers. With a strong combination of great beer and food, a night at The Answer is just what you need.
Center of the Universe Brewing Company
Though Center of the Universe didn’t start brewing for the public until 2012, their story dates back to their founders’ days of homebrewing beginning in 2009. They’ve found their place in the Richmond beer scene by focusing on what matters to them – a sense of community. This focus led them to their name which, to them, means taking pride in your place of residence and respecting those you meet every day. They see their brewery as a place where friendships are formed and folks from different walks of life living in the same town can come together and enjoy a tasty beer.
Ardent Craft Ales
Ardent Craft Ales is yet another proud member of the Richmond beer community. In 2010 the founders of Ardent began a homebrewers co-operative out of a garage on the east side of town. They kept their operation open to locals interested in brewing. This tiny operation turned into what we now know as Ardent Craft Ales in the summer of 2014 after an overwhelmingly positive response from passersby. Their switch of focus from doing this as a fun pastime to an artful craft.
These are just a few of the amazing breweries centered in Richmond. Even those not listed here can agree – the trail is worth exploring and it will welcome you with open arms. If you want to hit a few brewery’s on the beer trail at once, there are many Richmond brewery tours that hit the best spots on the map. Whether you’ve been living in Richmond for many years or it’s your first time, the beer trail is worth exploring.
Haley resides in the valley of the sun. Although an Arizona native, the Midwest is her favorite place to be. Her favorite beer is a West-O Coco Stout from Okoboji, Iowa.