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, Lonerider Spirits starts their debut in Virginia with ready-to-drink Whiskey Mule cocktails in cans across ABC stores. Something Chill hits Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, the Pho King Championship comes to Mekong, and Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery releases a 12% rosé with a touch of sweetness. Don’t miss new brews at Hardywood, Väsen, Center of the Universe, Ardent Craft Ales, and more, along with a multi-release at The Veil Brewing Co. and fresh recipes at Fine Creek Brewing and Strangeways.
The annual PHO KING Championship is coming to Mekong this Sunday, and we can’t wait to dive into the 10th year of this Pho Eating Contest with our pals at Mekong and The Answer Brewpub. Be sure to check out the video above for a montage of Pho King training procedures to prepare yourself properly, should you decide to challenge the champions… and strengthen your beer-drinking, jump-roping, chicken-chasing skills along the way.
RVA Magazine is hosting the event with our own Pho King, John Reinhold, going down at 4pm, right before the Super Bowl. If you want to join the list (with limited space — so act soon!) get in touch with John or An Mekong to secure your spot. Come out for amazing brews, delicious pho, and of course, football, on this holy day of celebrating the Super Bowl in the most traditional way: with plenty of booze and plenty of food. We’re eagerly awaiting the next Pho King or Queen’s crowning, so mark your calendars, folks. It’s going to be a special one. And don’t forget:
“MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVREEEEEEER!”
There’s a new kid on the Richmond alcohol block, and they don’t taste anything like what’s in our usual cans… but we think that’s a good thing, and it’s worth noting as we kick off this week’s RVA On Tap.
Lonerider Spirits is hitting Virginia, and their approach brings a unique taste to the River City as their Whiskey Mules come to ABC stores in the state. The four-packs of cans are filled with a ready-to-drink cocktail that saves drinkers the time of preparing (and the stress of getting the recipe just right). With the classic sweet and spicy balance of ginger, premium whiskey, and lime juice, Lonerider adds a bit of fizz into the mix with their carbonated cocktails. These are delicious in any season of the year, so their winter debut in Virginia is welcomed before we move into warmer weather.
The North Carolina cocktail crafters are launching their Whiskey Mules in 100 ABC stores this year, so keep an eye out for the bright green can top as they roll them out. We’re stoked to give these a try!
The latest in the Juicy series is out at Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, and it’s #18 on the list.
Something Chill just made its way out in cans over the weekend. At 7.5% ABV, this one is “a hazy beauty” according to its brewers, and it’s my favorite beer of the releases happening in this week’s RVA On Tap. You’ll catch flavors of citrus, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and tropical melons in this one, perfectly bringing out the fruitier side of things and sweetening up the wheat-forward New England IPA.
Juicy #18 Something Chill also came out with two more brews at Lickinghole Creek over the weekend, so head out to the brewery for a surprise. Lickinghole Creek might just be the prettiest brewery in the region (especially when sunflower season hits on the farm), so you’ll be glad you made the drive. If you’re in the mood for a darker brew, keep an eye out for their Blueberry Obsession Imperial Stout when it comes out soon.
The folks at Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery just released Acaí Cherry Brut Rosé this week, along with their Synthesis White Tawny Port returning in bottles.
Acaí Cherry Brut Rosé is a sparkling honeywine that pours bright red (as pictured above) with a great blend of sweet and tart. It’s full of flavors from acaí berries, black cherries, and organic tart, bringing out a fruit-forward taste with “just a touch of sweetness.” This one comes in at 12% ABV, so if you want a crisp, fruity drink without having to sacrifice its strength, this rosé is just right.
Synthesis is even stronger, with a 16% ABV for this wine-port hybrid. It came together with barley along with Virginia-grown Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, and was aged for 14 months in Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels to pack a stronger wine punch. You’ll catch flavors of orange blossom and wildflower honey in this one as well, making it the perfect intersection between beer and wine for those who can’t get enough of either.
#FreshCanFriday brought something extra-fresh to Hardywood over the weekend. The Covalent Double IPA dropped in cans on Friday, and its fruity and dank hops combine with a fruit-forward yeast strain in this 8% ABV New England brew. Its brewers report that it’s a “dank, fruity option in the midst of stout season,” so it’s a great option to take a break from the darker brews of winter.
Also over the weekend at Hardywood, I headed out to the West Creek location to enjoy the strangely-warm weather we’ve been having (thanks but no thanks, global warming). If you haven’t trekked to the West End to visit their giant farmhouse, it’s worth it — plus, if you live downtown, it doesn’t hurt that you can enjoy your beer from macrame swings overlooking the forest and pretend you’re in the country, even if just for an afternoon. Hardywood’s hosting an open house on Saturday at the West Creek location, so this weekend will make the perfect time to check it out. They’ll have guided tasting panels, tours of the bottling line, sample stations all around, and three limited releases with It Figures, Trickiest, and Coconut Jack.
This Friday, Väsen Brewing Company is throwing a party for the release of Radapils. This one got its name from a Slavic god, Radagast, who ruled hospitality, fire, and the evening sky in its folklore. The “Wizard of Middle-Earth” comes out in inspiration through Radapils, which brings together Czech Saaz and German Hersbrucker hops for an herbal aroma in a classic lager.
With Super Bowl Sunday on the horizon (let’s go 49ers!), it’s also a great time to swing by Väsen to stock up on the best brews for the game. They’re hosting tons of specials this week, with discounts on four-packs and crowler fills, along with free anniversary glasses for everyone who buys packs of cans. To see if your favorite brew is in stock, the brewery says to head over to Untappd and check their availability on their page.
The Irish Red Ale has returned to Center of the Universe, and it’s won some big awards since the last time we saw it. Bald Irishman is hitting the taps this Saturday in Ashland, with plenty of toasted grain, graham cracker, toffee, and berry notes to bring in a new combination of flavors.
This brew was a fan favorite when it first released, and we’re glad to see it making its way back. It won the Gold Medal for Irish-style Red Ales at the World Beer Cup last year, and if its awards aren’t enough to convince you to try it, maybe its donations are — 10 percent of all proceeds from this one go to the St. Baldrick’s foundation to provide life-saving research for kids with cancer.
In its brewing process, Bald Irishman came together with Maris Otter, malted oats, Black Prinz, CaraRed, C90 malts, Irish Ale Yeast, and Cluster hops. It’s got a lot to show, so you’ll want to head to the brewery on Saturday for its release party along with the Freekin’ Rican food truck.
Last night at The Veil Brewing Co., the weekly Tuesday release brought some great new brews. Chubbles Chubbles (pictured above) kicks off the releases for us, and this Triple IPA was brewed as a collaboration with Cloudwater Brew Co. At 10.9% ABV, the higher-alcohol recipe comes in with a soft feel, featuring overripe cantaloupe, tropical fruit, and extra additions of oats with its Citra, El Dorado, and Galaxy hops.
Winter Sauce Tastee comes next, adding another new recipe to the list of The Veil’s delicious Tastee recipes in smoothie-style beers. This Sour Ale was brewed with boysenberry, cranberry, black currant purées, a dash of cinnamon, and milk sugar to thicken things up for a smoothie blend. It has a lower 5.5% ABV, so it’s an easy drinker with mulled fruit flavors.
Humanimal is another brand new recipe, and it’s something we don’t see too often. This brew is a “Wild” Double IPA that was aged in red wine barrels for 15 months. With guava purée, peach, and gummy candy tastes, the 8% ABV beer is fresh from collaborating with Trillium Brewing.
Master Shredder returned with a new face, sporting its updated labels and some beautiful (and metal) artwork on its cans. The House IPA of The Veil, Master Shredder “is dripping with syrupy canned peaches, pineapple, cantaloupe, and orange.” If that doesn’t make you want to drive straight to The Veil, I don’t know what will. This one’s lower in ABV, at 5.5% again like Winter Sauce Tastee.
Open Up and Love Again: Huckleberry and Blueberry first made its way to taps at The Veil back in August of 2018, and it’s back now in bottles for those who loved it. It’s another Mixed Fermie™ in the brewery’s series, collaborated with American Solera, Cloudwater Brewing, Monkish Brewing, and TRVE Brewing. With malted wheat, noble hops, and mixed-culture Saison yeasts, Open Up and Love Again returns in this fruity huckleberry and blueberry variation.
Destroy Who You Are closes out our news from The Veil this week, and it’s an extra-special recipe from their multi-release. With Citra, Idaho 7, Sabro, Enigma, and Galaxy hops, this brew is a brand-new Triple IPA packed with creamy tropical coconut and musky lime zest. Its 11% ABV is true to the Triple IPA fashion, and its creamy coconut is exactly what we’re craving this week as we dream of sunshine returning to the River City.
The latest release at Ardent Craft Ales has us reminiscing on Kentucky Christmas Morning that we loved from Hardywood over the holiday season. Ardent’s Barrel Aged Milk Stout packs a ton of taste from its six months aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and this one builds up a new array of flavors onto its rich, chocolatey base. With a bourbon nose, a full body, and an oaky character, this recipe is a “smooth, warming winter indulgence” according to its brewers.
At 11.8% ABV, Ardent says Barrel Aged Milk Stout is a match made in beer heaven in its bourbon-stout blend. Head out to Scott’s Addition tomorrow night for a glass, and enjoy the best of stout season while it lasts.
Over the weekend, one of the brewers’ favorites returned to Strangeways Brewing in cans. Helles Frozen Over is a Munich Helles Lager, and this one has never been released in cans until now: which means it’s the perfect time to go grab a four-pack and bring it on home. As the beloved flagship lager of its brewers, Helles Frozen Over is light and full-bodied — and it aims to please all lager fans (especially those who have yet to try one from Strangeways).
In event news at the brewery, head over to Strangeways for live music on Tuesday with Citizens’ Loft, a record label from up north coming to Richmond with bands like Ross, DeUrso, FU, and Geisel, along with Caterpillar Trap. For the dog lovers out there, Strangeways is also hosting their Indoor/Outdoor Yappy Hour events at their Dabney Road spot every Wednesday. With plenty of happy hour specials, they’re opening their doors for dogs to come inside (and give us dog moms a place to let our pups get out of the house without freezing ourselves on the patio in January).
Out on the farm, Fine Creek Brewing Company is getting ready for the weekend with their Avec Frère 11 release this Friday. The Belgian Quad comes with Fine Creek’s series of Belgian recipes, and the brewery has done a great job this season of mastering this brewing style through different variations in their recent releases. Avec Frère 11 is rich, with a balanced profile, and its brewers say it’s the one they’re most excited about since starting their focus on Belgian brews.
Fine Creek is also dropping their Barrel Aged Barleywine this weekend, with some of their “booziest beers to date.” For High Gravity Saturday, they’re bringing out a great batch of brews like their Wheatwine, Barleywine aged in Reservoir Distillery bourbon barrels, Avec Frère 9, Avec Frère 11, Dad Strength DIPA, and Tractor Juice Belgian DIPA. It’ll certainly be a release to remember, and we’re especially excited to hear from drinkers what Dad Strength is all about.
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 [email protected], and if you’re a beer enthusiast, drop me a line anytime to talk booze. Catch y’all next week!