Is Hardywood The Ambassador of Richmond Craft Beer?

by | Jul 25, 2023 | BEER & SPIRITS, EAT DRINK

Hey, since we’re diving into the craft beer scene this week, let’s talk about Hardywood Park Craft Beer from Richmond. A marketing company from out of state called it the Best Craft Beer Brand in Virginia last week. A big call, right? But, does Hardywood really own that crown?

Let us share some facts that make a compelling case for Hardywood being the city’s top craft beer ambassador.

Way back in 2011, Hardywood was the first one to kickstart the craft brewery buzz in Richmond. Sure, Richbrau Brewing Co., who closed in 2010, and Legends were already around, but it was Hardywood that set the stage for the craft beer wave we’re all riding now. Around the same time, one of our favorite local spots, a Vietnamese restaurant called Mekong, became the heart of the local brewers’ community, even winning Best Beer Bar in America in 2016.

A quick side note here: We were on the ground, observing this scene develop. Mekong stood out, shaping an inclusive, fun community based on exchanging ideas and home-brews. This groundwork inevitably nudged some of the entrepreneurs in the crowd towards becoming competitors in the craft beer gold rush that was soon to follow. But let’s put a pin in that — it’s worth its own article at some point.

Back on track, Hardywood didn’t stop at just opening a craft brewery in 2011. They followed it up with the first craft beer release that’s arguably become the most famous brew in our city’s history — the Gingerbread Stout, which back then got a perfect 100 rating from Beer Advocate. For several years, this beer turned into a sensation, drawing huge crowds around the block every year when it was released.

Then, in 2012, the crew behind Hardywood, alongside Star Hill Brewery and Devil’s Backbone, put their money where their mouths were. They funded a lobbying effort and got Senate Bill 604 passed, which allowed on-premise consumption of beer, just like wineries and other alcohol producers. This bill was a game-changer for the industry in Virginia and now we’ve got over 200+ breweries across the state.

Though this whirlwind happened over a decade ago, Hardywood’s influence hasn’t waned. Their brand, as pointed out by eagle-eyed reddit user u/ExtremeHobo (main image), has found global resonance, with their beer popping up on shelves in Japan as an exotic American brew.

So, is Hardywood the undisputed craft beer ambassador of Richmond? The evidence certainly paints a compelling picture. But perhaps the real testament to Hardywood’s influence is found in every frothy pint of Virginia craft beer enjoyed around the world. Now, that’s something to raise a glass to.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

more in eat drink

Timmy Danger and Punks for Presents Wrestle for Charity

I found Timmy Danger lounging casually beside a fire pit, drinking a dark beer. It was a Friday afternoon in the dying days of summer, and the man whose last name is "Danger" was looking decidedly docile. He greeted me with a warm smile and a firm handshake wearing...

Hey Richmond, How Are We Betting on this Casino?

Ah, Richmond—where history, culture, and community converge. A city where the clash of new and old offers fertile ground for debate. Well, hold on to your seats, River City, because we're about to roll the dice on our future once again. Just three years ago, we...

A New Era for Carytown? Pros and Cons of a Car-Free Transformation

The annual Carytown Watermelon Festival is today and that got us thinking -- should Carytown be car free? According to a recent article posted in BizSense, the City of Richmond is thinking about making Carytown closed off to cars, transforming the area into a...

The Veil’s Forever Summer Fest Was Craft Beer Heaven

Richmond's craft beer scene is undeniably alive and kicking, and this past weekend it was showcased in all its hop-filled glory at The Veil's Forever Summer Festival. This day-long celebration of ales, IPAs, stouts, and more brought together a community of brewers,...

In The Heat Of The Night Vol. 7: Laid Back Late Nights

We're weaving the narrative of Richmond's vibrant summer nightlife, and this story is far from over. A hearty salute to our compatriots at Bingo! Beer Co for their unwavering support. This nightlife gem demands your exploration—and their lager is definitely worth a...

Pin It on Pinterest