Posted by: Amy – Jan 06, 2017
This article was featured in RVAMag #27: Winter 2016. You can read all of issue #27 here or pick it up at local shops around RVA right now.
Legend’s In-Progress Portsmouth Location & Seasonal Brews
Legend fans, you’ve got a new destination if you’re planning on hitting the Tidewater area next summer: Richmond’s oldest craft brewery has got a new location in Portsmouth that’s set to open mid-Spring of 2017. The location, in keeping with Legend’s image, will sit in a beautiful historical building right on the Elizabeth River. The location is going to be a full-service brewpub just like the Richmond location, with indoor and outdoor seating that will accommodate about eighty people. Legend is hoping to create some special beers that are exclusive to that location, specifically some that feature “local flavor,” such as an oyster stout. Even guest taps are a possibility. While the opening of the Portsmouth location is a little ways away, Legend’s winter seasonal releases are available now. Their classic Winter White is on draft and on shelves throughout the city, still redolent of coriander, orange peel, and Belgian Trappist yeast as always. Legend’s twist on the traditional Belgian Wit style is fortified for winter, with a richer malt body than most wheats, making it perfect for those that don’t feel like drinking an imperial stout just yet. The Chocolate Porter goes full-tilt into “winter beer” mode, a rich, malty affair complete with natural chocolate flavor. At six percent though, Chocolate Porter won’t quite knock you off your bar stool. Also be on the lookout for Legend Barleywine out now. Legend’s take on the style is a massive fifteen percent ale chock full of dried fruit and caramel flavors, with a distinctively American hop bitterness to it, which is something that will fade with time. That fact is worth noting, as the high alcohol content and rich flavor of this beer make it a perfect candidate for aging. So stock up and try an aged bottle alongside next year’s batch.
By the time you read this, Triple Crossing’s new location may already be open. The new spot is a 30,000 square foot facility in the Fulton Hill area that will be used to increase production, can beers, and house a multitude of barrels filled with mixed fermentation beers. This location will also function as a full-on brewpub/restaurant, with a patio for outdoor seating. Brewer and co-owner Jeremy Wirtes is particularly excited about the neapolitan-style pizza that will be served at the new place, a lighter style of pizza perfect for pairing with beer. The space features a unique aesthetic for a brewery, one based around street art and murals which cover the interior walls of the building. While you’re there, taking in the vibrant art, be sure to be on the lookout for Battle Creek, a single-hop Mosaic Double IPA. That entry in the hop-forward Lockout series of beers will be canned at the new facility, alongside Falcon Smash, Paranoid Android, Clever Girl, and other future projects. Also in the works is a barrel program, with beer being put in unused oak barrels and wine barrels currently. Wirtes hopes to build up a stock of these beers in order to start blending them, a practice common among many Belgian Lambic-makers. The new brewery is about half a mile from Stone, so hopefully there will be plenty of crossover appeal, as this sounds like another great addition to the Richmond beer community.
Although Castleburg hasn’t even been open for a year, they’ve built quite the stronghold for themselves just down the street from Hardywood. Fortifications include a number of malt-forward and hop-forward draft options, such as the Black Knight IPA and Rustication Red Ale. Those seeking even hardier provisions can look forward to the December 23rd release of Kings, Crimes And Punishment. A Scottish Strong Ale, KC&P is a beer sure to sate your cravings for big, malty brews. The Run The Gauntlet series of single-hop Pale Ales is going strong at the time of writing, so hopefully we’ll see a continuation of the series through December. Ale is not the only option for merriment at Castleburg, however. If you find yourself longing for a tune, look for Commonwealth Bluegrass Band on the 17th, and Red Light Rodeo the same day Kings, Crimes And Punishment debuts. Also, be sure to make it out to Thursday night trivia, where groups can compete for prizes the night of, or accumulate points and cerebrally duke it out for a quarterly grand prize. It’s too early to say what 2017 holds for Castleburg, but you can be sure that more beer is on the way.
Although Steam Bell has only been open since June, they’re already looking to expand. I met Head Brewer/Owner Brad Cooper at the brewery recently, where he expressed to me that the brewery is already at one hundred percent capacity in their current space, as far as producing beer goes. That means that there’s no space for even a small packaging line, and the increased amount of brewing equipment that would then be required to keep up with the increased beer production to go into packaging and taproom kegs. While the search for an extra facility continues, the production of beers both established and new continue at the Oak Lake Boulevard location. Out now is a new flagship beer, the Brindled Brown. The Brown Ale is made with cocoa nibs and toasted pecans. It sounds like it would be heavy, but it actually finishes somewhat dry, and is very drinkable. The Brindled Brown joins original flagship Grisette, a version of the Belgian Saison style. Effervescent and light, the Grisette is ideal after a long shift -- rightly so, given the style’s historical association with miners, a profession that Brad Cooper used to be involved in. An early hit for Steam Bell, Liege, is returning in 2017. Liege is a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with maple syrup and conditioned on vanilla beans, a rich, complex brew perfect for slow sipping. While Steam Bell has a few hoppy beers, namely the Time Is Money IPA, Cooper feels that “Hoppy beer is very well-represented in Richmond.” The brewery is more concentrated on representing styles that are not quite as common as the IPA. They currently have a sour beer in the works, which will condition for the next six to eight months. Hopefully once they find their new facility, we’ll see more beers of that kind being doled out.
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout variants
By time this magazine makes it to print, you may have had a bottle or two of Gingerbread Stout already, and that’s fine, as there are plenty of variants to try: Bourbon Barrel GBS’ layers of vanilla, spice, and spirit characters come from the Virginia bourbon barrels that the beer rested in, making an already rich stout even more complex. The pairing of ginger and honey in the base beer with the spice, molasses, and brown sugar from the Caribbean dark rum barrels makes Rum Barrel GBS easy to cozy up with. Christmas Morning’s pairing of Gingerbread Stout and coffee from Black Hand Coffee Co. is ingenious, the somewhat bitter, roasted notes of coffee balancing out the sweetness of the base beer and accentuating its spices. The final twist on the GBS formula, Kentucky Christmas Morning, is Christmas Morning aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, naturally. It’s as good as it sounds. All of those variants are December releases, but Hardywood has plenty going on in 2017. The brewery’s biggest news for 2017 involves the opening of two news facilities. While the Goochland location is still in progress, and its opening date is still to be determined, the Charlottesville location will open in January. Hardywood’s beer is already sold and well-liked in the area, and they will be joining an already strong brewing culture, with Three Notch’d, Champion, and others already right around the corner. The Charlottesville spot represents an opportunity to experiment and collaborate more, as the facility will feature a larger pilot system than the Richmond location.
Words by Cody Endres