RVA On Tap: New Head Brewers & Flying Squirrels Beers

by | Feb 26, 2020 | BREWS & SPIRITS

What’s happening, craft beer lovers of RVA?! Welcome to this week’s RVA On Tap, RVA Magazine’s weekly column for all your craft beer-related events, releases, festivals, and all the booze news your hearts desire.

If you missed the last column, you can check that out here. Our kegs are overflowing this week with beer releases and festivals, events, and other cool happenings around town, so hold on to your mugs.

A big congrats goes out to Tom Bova as the new head brewer for Strangeways Brewing in Richmond. This week also brings great releases like Väsen Brewing Company’s Guava Passion Sour, Likely Story at Triple Crossing Beer, and Center of the Universe’s Flying Squirrels-inspired Rally Cap Grapefruit Shandy

Be on the lookout for long-awaited returns like Ruse at Hardywood and The Message at Final Gravity, plus fresh new brews at Ardent Craft Ales, Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery, Stone Brewing Richmond, The Veil Brewing Co., and more.

PHOTO: Strangeways Brewing

Announcing a new Head Brewer at Strangeways Brewing

Here’s some awesome news to brighten up the gloomy weather this week: Tom Bova has taken over as the new Head Brewer of the Strangeways Brewing locations in Richmond. 

We got a great note from owner and founder Neil Burton last week, and of Bova, he said, “As Tom proudly promotes, you’ve got to ‘Risk it for the Biscuit,’ and this mantra seems to have paid off for him handsomely. We are excited to see what Tom will cook up from scratch in this new chapter of his brewing career, and the future is bright indeed.”

It certainly will be. We’re always excited to hear of new folks making their mark on the craft brewing scene here, and Bova’s contributions aren’t limited to the River City; he started off in Norfolk at Coelacanth Brewing before heading to Strangeways. During his time in Richmond, he’s worked through each sector of brewing, from the cellars to the brewing process. He’s grown his expertise in every part of the operation, which is always a great recipe for folks to work confidently with their team and make things better for all. 

In just three short years, Bova has made his way to Head Brewer, and we’re shouting out a big congratulations to him this week as he embarks on the new journey with Strangeways. We wish them all the best! 

PHOTO: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Ruse release at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery 

An award-winning favorite is making its way back to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery this Saturday, and this year’s release is especially exclusive. 

Ruse, a port-like brew aged in red wine barrels, has earned its wide recognition with its bold flavor. It’s won not one, but two international awards at worldwide beer festivals — yet again making a name for these stellar Richmond brewers (and our beer scene as a whole) around the globe. 

Its first award came with a Bronze Medal at the World Beer Cup in 2016, in their “Wood- And Barrel-Aged Strong Stout” category. The following year, it brought home the Bronze again for the “Specialty Beer/Wood-Aged” category at the Australian International Beer Awards. 

If you’re wondering what all the hype is about, you’ll want a taste of your own: with dark chocolate and molasses characteristics, plus oak and leather-like aromatics, Ruse brings to the table a rich mouthfeel with “a deceptively dry, tannic finish,” according to its brewers. 

Get your glass of Ruse this Saturday at Hardywood, and keep in mind that this run is more limited than usual, with a four-bottle limit per person. If you head out to the brewery, you’ll also get to catch some great eats from the Smokie JOE’s BBQ truck to warm you up. This weekend might get cold again, folks, but we’re almost there! 

PHOTO: Väsen Brewing Company

Guava Passion Sour release at Väsen Brewing Company 

Coming up this Friday at Väsen Brewing Company, a brand-new Guava Passion Sour is making its debut.

At 7.8% ABV, this sour hits in at a nice middle on the average ABV range for craft beer. Flavors of peach and clove come out among subtle spices in this one, coming from its brewing process with traditional Belgian saison yeast. It’s full of summery characters that bring the tropical and bright back into this dreary River City, and with heavy additions of guava and passionfruit, its brewers say it’s bursting with tropical flavor. It’s not too sour compared with others in its family, and it’s also flavored with a light citrus taste from its lacto ingredients. 

Guava Passion Sour comes out this Friday, along with The Velvet Walrus on Raspberry, a milk stout that’s packed with hundreds of pounds of raspberry. That one comes in at a higher 9.5% ABV, so there are great new options for both sides of the scale available at the brewery this weekend. 

PHOTO: Ardent Craft Ales

Double Dry-Hopped IPA X release at Ardent Craft Ales 

A great return is coming to Ardent Craft Ales tomorrow night. Their delicious Double Dry-Hopped IPA X is on its way back, and this unique IPA was created with twice the standard amount of Citra and Mosaic hops for the brewery.

It hits in at 7.1% on the ABV scale, and it’s also available to-go in 16oz four-packs for those who would rather drink at home (and honestly, I can’t blame you — I’m a huge homebody myself). If you do want to make it out on a Thursday night, Ardent’s got this extra-special release as a big incentive. With plenty of citrus and tropical fruit notes, Double Dry-Hopped IPA X is the product of Ardent’s favorite combination of hops, and it pours in a cloudy, deep-golden color for a juicy brew without all the usual IPA bitterness. LOWCO Eatery will also be out for the event in the beer garden, so all our Southern low-country food lovers will definitely be pleased. 

PHOTO: Final Gravity Brewing Co.

The Return of The Message DIPA at Final Gravity Brewing Co. 

Something special returned to Final Gravity Brewing Co. over the weekend for the first time in three years: The Message DIPA.

This recipe has been on hiatus since 2017, and there’s even more to it than the comeback itself. The Message DIPA has been one of Final Gravity’s most-requested beers to bring back to the brewery, and its longtime fans can finally rejoice now that it’s here. 

Simcoe and Amarillo hops came together to bring The Message to your glass, and with incredibly high ratings from all of its drinkers, it’s one you won’t want to miss. Its fans report this one to be full of citrus flavors with a cloudy texture (my favorite combination!), and Richmond drinkers aren’t the only ones that are impressed. The Message DIPA won a Bronze Medal at the 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup for IPAs, and its brewers say it’s “guaranteed to push you close to the edge.” You’ll want to make sure to grab a taste while it’s here, because it’s been talked about for years since it last came to Final Gravity. 

Final Gravity is also dropping a brand new release this Friday with their JuiceBox Hazy Double IPA. These two DIPAs are right up my alley, and as a beer writer that often can’t find the perfect beer at a brewery, I can tell you these releases are music to my ears. JuiceBox came together with Strata, Citra, and Belma hops for a burst of passionfruit, citrus, and berry flavors with an extra-juicy character. And as Final Gravity notes, while it’s not available in actual juice boxes (that’d be the dream), you can take this one to-go in growlers and crowlers if you can’t get enough of it.

PHOTO: Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery

Tmavé Pivo release at Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery 

Over the weekend, a new Czech Lager made its way into the hearts (and glasses) of all our friends at Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery. Tmavé Pivo is the latest Old World-style dark lager from their brewers, and it’s packed with bold, earthy flavors. 

You’ll catch notes of dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, toast, and raisins in this brew, and they come together with a “dangerously smooth” character. We’re moving into the time of year now where dark chocolate and coffee brews will become few and far between, so this is a great opportunity to find these flavors fresh from the keg while they’re still around. Garden Grove is also hosting another Bluegrass Jam coming up on Tuesday, and if the weather’s nice (fingers crossed!) it’ll extend out to the patio for some early-springtime outside jams. This brewery hosts tons of great events each week, and it’s a great spot to check out if you’re looking for stand-up comedy and live music in a laid-back setting. Catch up with more of their events here, and be sure to check back for more as warmer weather returns for nights on the patio in Carytown. 

PHOTO: Center of the Universe Brewing

Rally Cap Grapefruit Shandy release at Center of the Universe Brewing 

Happy Leap Year, y’all! Center of the Universe is celebrating this special date in the most Richmond fashion of all: with a brand-new beer collaborated with the Flying Squirrels Baseball Team here in town.

If you’re ready for the return of sunny days at the ball field, filled with great beer, ice cream (an essential), and the all-American hot dog tradition, you’re not alone. Center of the Universe is amping up the craft beer game for Richmond’s Flying Squirrels stadium this year with their brand-new Rally Cap Grapefruit Shandy.

Rally Cap comes out on Saturday at Center of the Universe, with a thirst-quenching recipe that brings out the zest from its Perle hops and grapefruit additions. It was also brewed with 2 Row, Malted Wheat, and Acidulated Malt, and it comes in at a perfect 5% ABV — because anything higher would make it hard to go back for a few refills during the game. A lower ABV is great for events like this, so you can enjoy a few and still remember who won by the end. Go Squirrels! 

As Center of the Universe says, “When the game is on the line and your hometown needs that extra push, grab your Richmond Rally Cap, pop the top, and let your voice be heard!” And if you’ve been to a Squirrels game before, you know Richmond is great at making sure everyone hears those voices. Rally Cap was created to fuel the charge and fan the flames of victory here at our stadium, and it’s available pre-season starting this weekend at the brewery. 

PHOTO: The Veil Brewing Co.

The Veil wins four awards with Ratebeer Best 2019 

It’s no surprise to anyone who has ever visited The Veil Brewing Co. that these Richmond brewers could make a big name for themselves (and the city) in awards all around. They did it again this year, with their wins in the Ratebeer Best 2019 Awards just announced by the brewery. 

Starting with the beer, The Veil won “Best Beer By Style” for Flavored Gose brews, with #1 and #2 awards going to their Never Never Again Again and Never Never Gonnagetit Gonnagetit. If we had to pick the most colorful beer in town, I’d say The Veil could probably take the cake every single time — there’s nothing brighter than their fruited brews, and they’ve even managed to brew a perfectly-pitch-black beer in the past.

Along with their beer awards, they also won “Best Brewer in Virginia,” “Best Brewer Taproom in Virginia,” and “Top 100 Brewer in the World” categories. We’re very proud of this hometown brewery, and we encourage you to swing by their Scott’s Addition spot for a celebratory drink with them this week. 

In their weekly multi-release last night, The Veil also dropped some fresh brews here in Richmond: 

Strength in Solitude kicked it off, and this 5.5% ABV Red Ale comes with some warmer flavors. With subtle caramel, biscuit, and a gentle European hopping, Strength in Solitude pours with a light reddish color in this malt-forward crusher.

pinkmiata came out in cans last night in all its luxuriously-hopped glory. This IPA comes in at 6% ABV, and with Nelson and Galaxy hops, it brings out flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, and pungent exotic fruits.

Velvet River is The Veil’s Barleywine collaboration with Fonta Flora Brewery that’s fresh out in bottles. In true barleywine fashion, it has a higher ABV at 10% — so take it slow with this one. It was brewed with Rye Raisin bread from Richmond’s Sub Rosa Bakery, along with Ugandan vanilla and nutmeg. It’s full of tastes like cotton candy, old world bread, candied raisins, and fruitcake, so it balances out the sweet with the earthy. 

Dirtyferrari is fresh in cans, and this DIPA was brewed with “the freshest Citra” in the whirlpool before blending Galaxy, Citra, Nelson, and Mosaic in its dry-hopping process. At 8% ABV, The Veil notes that this one is a mash-up between their Dirtnap and whiteferrari beers. You’ll catch fruits like ripened cantaloupe, candy, and papaya in this one for a bright, fruity flavor.

Never Never Calm Calm closes out our releases from The Veil this week, and this Gose is packed with tropical fruits. It has a lower 5.1% ABV to make for an easy drinker, and features passionfruit and double pineapple for tastes like canned fruit cups and peach skin.

PHOTO: Stone Brewing Richmond

Arrogant Consortia Double Bastard release at Stone Brewing Richmond 

The bastards are in at Stone Brewing Richmond.

In addition to the 2016 Classic Double Bastard and the 2013 Double Bastard returning, Stone just released a great new variation to their Arrogant Bastard Ale. Adding in some extra smokey flavors with an “aggressively delicious variation” on this longtime favorite, the latest Arrogant Consortia Double Bastard is now fresh at the brewery. A bit earlier this month, Stone also released their Diehard Fan IPA in a fresh, crisp, Mosaic-hopped recipe, perfect for everyone out there who can’t resist trying every new brew Stone brings to town. Trust us, we’re definitely in that category.

In more news at Stone, they’ve just announced their participation in this year’s FloydFest 2020, which is coming up this July 22-26. If you’ve never been, we’d suggest getting your tickets early — this event brings together some of the best Americana, Folk, and Indie-style artists in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend of great views and great tunes. We’re even more pumped now that we know it’ll also include some of Virginia’s greatest beer. Tickets start selling quick, and this year will be extra-special with the addition of three awesome Virginia breweries: Stone Brewing, Three Notch’d, and Devil’s Backbone. They’ll also have Oskar Blues Brewery and Deschutes (RIP Virginia location!) on the list, so it’s one you won’t want to miss… but more on that later as it gets closer. Consider this your friendly reminder to secure your spot before they’re all gone! 

PHOTO: Triple Crossing Beer

Likely Story release at Triple Crossing Beer 

This one came to us over the weekend at Triple Crossing Beer. Likely Story is a dry-hopped Pilsner that was created with 100 percent German Pilsner malt base, and the pale lager variation is packed with floral white grape notes.

This pale, straw-colored brew brings in a bright white head on each pour, and it was dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc, along with its cooler fermenting process with Triple Crossing’s house lager yeast. Its zesty hop flavors come together for an easy-drinking 5% ABV — and it’s a great weeknight brew for all the “relax” without too much of the “party” for a Wednesday. Head out to the farm and grab a glass!

That’s it for this week’s RVA On Tap! As your weekly columnist, I’m here to take all your beer releases, event info, ideas and questions. If you’re a brewer, send me your release info at caley@rvamag.com, and if you’re a beer enthusiast, drop me a line anytime to talk booze. Catch y’all next week!

Caley Sturgill

Caley Sturgill

Caley Sturgill is the Director of Media at RVA Magazine. Email her at caley@rvamag.com for inquiries and RVA On Tap releases.

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