This story was originally published in RVA 41 which can be in various locations around town, or you can read it right here. This is a slightly modified version formatted for digital distribution.
Step into Scott’s Addition, the Richmond neighborhood where rusting warehouses now boast edgy brewpubs and artisan eateries. It’s here I find myself sharing pints with Jay Bayer, the co-conspirator behind Bingo Beer Company. We’re musing over lagers and life, unraveling the fabric of Richmond’s burgeoning craft beer tapestry, one sip at a time.
Jay Bayer is not your everyday brewmeister. The guy cut his teeth at Carytown’s iconic Galaxy Diner before realizing his destiny was steeped in hops, not hash browns. Off to the Windy City’s Siebel Institute he went, returning to RVA with a brain brimming with brew knowledge.
Flashback to 2012. Jay and his comrade-in-arms Adam Hall are busy shaking up Richmond’s foodie scene. Enter Saison, their avant-garde eatery that dared to spice up Southern fare and cocktails. Plopped in Jackson Ward, then a sleepy hollow, not a nightlife nexus, they gambled on the community’s appetite for the extraordinary. Jackpot. Though Saison’s doors have since closed, its legacy thrives in countless tipsy tales and food coma dreams.
But let’s jet back to the now. Craft beer is no longer an underground movement in Richmond; it’s the mainstage. Bayer, ever the restless creator, pivots, shifting his culinary theater to the ale-soaked landscape — and 2018 heralds the birth of Bingo Beer Company. Envision a sanctuary for sudsy sorcery, a utopia where IPAs and underdogs play nice. Add a dash of video game nostalgia and an after-dark scene that’s pure fire, and you’ve got a Richmond hot spot.
What’s the beer buzz, you ask? Sure, their Bingo! Lager’s a crowd-pleaser, but for those in the know, the Black Lager’s where it’s at. Trust me, this dark horse is snatching wigs among the regulars.
Bayer isn’t just brewing for taste; he’s curating experiences. His mantra is simple: Craft beer’s not a special occasion; it’s life’s background score, enhancing every shared laugh, every clinked glass.
Our convo wraps up with Bayer on his soapbox, mulling the existential questions facing the craft beer cosmos. He argues it’s high time this hoppy haven reflects the tapestry of faces that actually enjoy it. The call? For a more inclusive, intentional beer culture, rooted not just in barley and yeast, but in unity and community.
In the end, Bingo Beer Company is more than a brewpub; it’s a mission statement, dressed up in frothy pints and buzzy vibes. Nestled in the revitalized heart of Scott’s Addition, Bayer and his posse are fermenting far more than just alcohol: they’re distilling a sense of belonging, one brew at a time.
Top photo by R. Anthony Harris.