RVA ON TAP: Ugly Sweaters & Gingerbread Holiday Brews

by | Dec 4, 2019 | BEER & 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.

This week, we’re honoring the life of Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery’s Co-Owner, Michael Brandt, and sending our love to their team from all of our Richmond beer family.

We’re also diving into the beginning of holiday events this week, with beer releases from The Answer Brewpub, Hardywood, Center of the Universe, and more, in addition to Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery’s ugly sweater party. The winter beers are in full swing with favorites like Ardent Craft Ales, Väsen Brewing Company, Final Gravity Brewing Co., The Veil Brewing Co., and Intermission Beer Company — plus an 80s throwback party with Strangeways Brewing

The next Booze Clues live podcast is going down this coming Sunday as well, investigating the how and why of the world’s most “spirited” headlines over at The Hof at 5pm. If you want to make it out for the live recording, this podcast is a blast to listen to — and this is an extra-special Xmas Edition. You can check out their last podcast here, and we’ll see you Sunday for the show!

PHOTO: Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery

Before we jump in for the week, we want to take a moment to honor the life of Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery’s Co-Owner, Brewer, and Winemaker, Michael Brandt, who passed suddenly last week. The folks at Garden Grove are a wonderful group of people, and we’re devastated for their loss and the loss of this great brewer who was so dear to our craft beer community. They’ve asked for privacy during this time, and we’re sending all our love to their team as they take their next steps forward. We love you, Garden Grove, and we are so heartbroken for your loss. We wish you all sincerely the best from your beer family here at the magazine.

PHOTO: Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

In holiday event news, it’s time for an ugly sweater party on the farm at Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Over the years, ugly Christmas sweater parties have really taken off. I’d speculate it’s from my grandparents’ generation of boomers happily doting themselves in bells, battery-powered lights, cotton balls, and the like, but this weird tradition probably goes back a lot further than my 25-year-old mind would know. Either way, it’s here to stay — so why not celebrate it?

My family all got together for a home-staged photoshoot in our (poorly) handmade sweaters back in high school, set appropriately in the “formal living room” of my grandmother’s house, where no one is allowed to carry a cup of water over the plush, white-carpeted floors. Wine might get you disowned entirely. The entire house is still perfectly intact from when it was built and decorated in 1972, complete with velvet jungle-themed wallpaper, a life-sized painting of a lion in the den, and wood paneled walls to compliment an oversized Christmas tree.

The tree room overlooks the mountains from the top of the hill in my quaint Roanoke town, in a house that looks like a 70s mountain cabin dream where my cousins and I were raised for many, many years with the love of our sweet grandmother. Holiday sweaters will forever take me back to that day, and to the endless days spent on that hillside that I’d give anything to see every day again. There’s no place like home, y’all. So, in the spirit of the holidays, it’s time to get your family traditions out now, too.

The fine folks at Lickinghole Creek have invited us to join their farm’s family this Saturday for their tacky sweater party, with a contest to bring it all together at 5pm. My sweater is long buried (and probably donated to Goodwill by now), but if you’ve got yours packed away, bring them out for the occasion and enjoy Twelfth Night three-pack deals on brews, and live music with Tribus through the evening.

PHOTO: The Answer Brewpub

While we were gone for the holiday break, tons of great events and beers came along that we previewed in our Thanksgiving Holiday edition of RVA On Tap. A few more gems were released as well, like The Answer Brewpub’s sixtel of Incognito Browser, pictured above. This one brings in all the deep, rich tastes of classic winter brews with flavors like Creme Brulee coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and my personal favorite, maple. This one’s a limited edition, so make sure to grab a glass while the pours still last — it won’t be back after it’s gone!

The Answer also dropped two more beers on Black Friday, starting with Hairy Coconuts (what a fantastic name). This 10.5% ABV Imperial Stout is dessert in a can, with Oreo cookies and toasted coconut flavors to bring the chocolate in even after the Thanksgiving sweets leftovers are all gone. Black Doom closed out their releases last week, in a perfect combination of activated charcoal and bright citrus to make this DIPA pour completely black. It’s deceivingly light, according to its brewers, and you can catch these tropical tastes at the brewery this week.

PHOTO: Hardywood

Every year, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery drops some special new variations of their famous Gingerbread Stout, and this year’s no different. If you’re looking for a taste of something new with that classic beloved taste, head over to the brewery this Saturday for the release of their new Triple Barrel GBS and Gingerbread Porter.

The Triple Barrel GBS is not for the faint of heart, as this 13.5% ABV brew comes to us from 11 months in brandy barrels, plus four additional months split between Caribbean rum barrels and A. Smith Bowman bourbon barrels. All together, that means it’s a hard hitter, and you’ll likely only need one (and on a holiday budget, that’s music to our ears!) to get that warm, fuzzy GBS feeling inside.

Gingerbread Porter, on the other hand, brings out a whole new recipe, as a 9.2% ABV Imperial Porter that was brewed with local white ginger and wildflower honey. As a bonus, it’s lactose-free, so it’s an easy drinker for those with a restricted diet.

In more news at Hardywood, the brewery recently started a new video series called Dads on Beer. Their latest video features Hardywood’s Hank and Skip breaking down the Kentucky Christmas Morning GBS beer, which, if you remember from a couple weeks back, is a variation of their Christmas-spiced recipe with Kentucky’s own Heaven Hills Bourbon. It’s a really fun series, so keep your eyes peeled for more on the horizon.

PHOTO: Center of the Universe

It’s back! The Jesus Mexican Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout has returned to Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland, and this is one you surely won’t want to miss. The crowd favorite marries the sweet to the spicy, with cayenne peppers, cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla bringing this Mexican Hot Chocolate to life in a brew.

The divine libation is perfect for “polishing balls and talking smack before the semis,” according to Center of the Universe, and they say this is a “no bush league, psych-out brew, because nobody………. with The Jesus!”

The 11.4% ABV stout is in a good middle range of alcohol content for stouts, and it’s packed with chocolate, ganache, and holiday spices to complement its Belgian Dark Candi syrup, cinnamon, and habanero pepper. It’s meant to warm its drinkers with the heat from its peppers, and glide over the tongue “like silk” in its deliciously spicy finish. You can grab a glass of your own at Center of the Universe this Saturday at its release party, with the Freekin’ Rican Puerto Rican food truck and live music to accompany it. 

PHOTO: Ardent Craft Ales

Black Friday Maple Dark Rye is fresh at Ardent Craft Ales, and this series of brews is full of great variations. Maple is the latest flavor in their releases, as a new recipe derived from their Dark Rye Imperial Stout. You’ll catch flavors of barrel-aged maple syrup along with vanilla and toffee in this one, and the 11.8% ABV brew comes from their year-long maple syrup barrel-aged classic with a roasted rye base.

Next up at Ardent is their Winter American Sour Ale, which you can catch a taste of tomorrow night at the brewery. This brew features a blend of wine barrel flavors in a “funky, farmhouse saison” that was aged for nine months in both red and white wine barrels (so if you love both tastes, you won’t have to pick). According to its brewers, Winter American Sour Ale is a complex beer with restrained acidity, and it hits in at 7% ABV with 36 IBU.

PHOTO: Väsen Brewing Company

Väsen Brewing Company brought out a couple new releases recently, starting with Norse Double IPA. It’s my favorite type of beer (as you all probably know by now), and this double-dry-hopped DIPA came together with Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops. These are great drinkers for any season of the year, but on these colder nights, this specific beer’s fruit flavors of grapefruit, tangerine, and pine are a refreshing blend of summer and winter.

Apricot Sour also made its debut over the weekend, with hundreds of pounds of apricot to ensure it doesn’t miss an inch of flavor. The Black Friday brew helped us hide away from the craziness of post-Thanksgiving shopping, and it’s here still to get you through the rest of the holiday season. According to its brewers, Apricot Sour is a bright, funky sour, and it’s packed with strawberry, tangerine, and subtle floral notes along with its brown sugar additions.

PHOTO: Final Gravity Brewing Co.

Another delicious DIPA is here with Final Gravity Brewing Co.’s My Shangri-La, the product of dry-hopped Citra and Cashmere hops. This Hazy DIPA is definitely on my list this week, and along with it, Final Gravity also has more new flavors on tap. Ancient Mariner Gose is out in Pomegranate and Pineapple Passionfruit, which means our brewery friends are missing the flavors of summer a bit like we are. It may be the best time of year for food, but while we’re not short on great beer releases lately, it’s refreshing to see these evergreen flavors still coming out fresh.

PHOTO: Stone Brewing Richmond

Last week, Stone Brewing Richmond celebrated the nice November weather with their Stone Winter Harvest Triple. In addition to having their collab Stone Saison Du Buff with Dogfish Head and Victory Brewing Company out for tastes, they tapped this keg to bring out the wine-infused recipe. Winter Harvest Triple was barrel-aged in white wine barrels after being brewed with red wine grapes from South Coast Winery, plus four strains of Brettanomyces yeast. It’s “dangerously drinkable,” according to its brewers, at 10.7% ABV — so make sure to sip slowly on this one when you swing by the brewery for a glass of your own.

PHOTO: Canon & Draw Brewing Company

Canon & Draw Brewing Company brought out the Thanksgiving goodness with their Stroopwafels over the weekend. This Just A Small Piece Sweet Potato Pie Milk Stout, a classic holiday-flavored brew, was infused into waffles with the folks at Campus Waffle RVA.

The finished product is a delicious combination of cakey desserts and stout beer, all wrapped up into pumpkin spice Stroopwafels to bring the local drinkers and foodies together in the perfect mix. 

PHOTO: The Veil Brewing Co.

Out at The Veil Brewing Co., another great multi-release came out last night. They’ve got five brews ready to go this time around, starting with Never Never Again Again (pictured above). This recipe is a double-fruited raspberry Gose, bright as can be in color and just as rich in flavor. At 5.1% ABV, it keeps it simple and makes for a very easy drinker.

Master Shredder, a Mosaic-forward IPA, was up next. It’s another lower-ABV beer at 5.5%, and it’s also a classic from the brewery, according to The Veil. Master Shredder is out right now for the last time in printed cans, so if you’re looking to grab a piece of history from your favorite brewery, now’s your chance.

?? followed, and as my favorite in the list, it’s a double dry-hopped Triple IPA. It was originally brewed with all Citra hops, then dry-hopped with Galaxy, Enigma, BRU-1, Motueka, and Citra again in its dry-hop process — a perfect Citra-forward TIPA for those of us who lean more towards an 11% ABV brew like this one.

Don’t Move is a fresh addition to The Veil’s ever-growing list, and it’s a nicely orange-colored DIPA that comes to us from Galaxy, Mosaic, Idaho 7, and Nelson hops. It hits in at 8% ABV, and it’s available in 4-packs as well.

They is fifth on the bill from the night. Outside the IPA family, this lager recipe was step-mashed with raw wheat before being hopped with its Perle and El Dorado hops. It’s another lower-ABV beer on the list at 5%, making it a great pour for any day of the week.

PHOTO: Intermission Beer Company

Over at Intermission Beer Company, Winter Warmer is here to cozy up these chilly days. The recipe this year just dropped over the weekend, and it was inspired by a friend of the brewery. Kate’s Ginger Molasses Cookie brought the flavors of this beer to life — full of vanilla, clove, and ginger — to have a 9.3% ABV in a nicely-balanced holiday brew.

PHOTO: Strangeways Brewing

Strangeways Brewing has a great event for us this week with their 80s Flashback Dance Party coming up this Friday. I recently spent a great evening in Carytown at a spot playing almost exclusively 80s music, and this next one will be a blast as well. Strangeways is inviting us all to bring out our 80s attire and “take the party back to the greatest decade,” with dances and clothing from The Moonwalk and The Sprinkler to big hair, headbands, leotards and ripped jeans. If you’re ready to relive the glory days, Strangeways is looking for you.

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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