After social distancing for nearly a year, sitting outside with a cold beverage in hand has never sounded more appealing. Craft beer has taken the nation by storm and while breweries are popping up all over America, Richmond, VA, has an entire “Beer Trail” dedicated to the effort. With nearly 40 locations to choose from, you could certainly make a weekend (or several) out of trying all the pours RVA has to offer … with a driver, of course.
If you are stationed at Fort Lee, then Richmond is basically your backyard. But Richmond is also an easy drive or daytrip from other Virginia military bases, including Quantico or the Pentagon, Naval Station Norfolk, Langley AFB, Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Fort Story, Oceana, Little Creek, or Dam Neck.
As if tasting hundreds of different beers wasn’t enough of an incentive, visit five spots on the Trail Map and you’ll earn Richmond Beer Trail gear. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Here are 5 locations in RVA’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood you won’t want to miss:
The Answer Brewpub
With over 50 beers on tap, it’s no wonder The Answer has been named the “best beer bar in America” three times in the last eight years by craftbeer.com. When Chief Beer Officer An Bui’s family opened Vietnamese restaurant, Mekong, in 1995, he decided to diversify the menu by adding some non-traditional Belgian ales. The list of beers grew and so did their notoriety. With unbelievable options to drink and killer food from Mekong next door, The Answer (a play on the declaration that “Beer is always the answer”), is the perfect place to start your tour of RVA. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t make it to any of the other spots on our list – it happens to the best of us.
The Veil Brewing Co.
With a cult-like following, The Veil is the place to go for an innovative beer. With smoothie style sours like the Banana Strawberry Shortcake Meltee (a dairy-free smoothie style sour ale conditioned on bananas, strawberry, non-dairy vanilla soft serve, and fresh Madagascar vanilla beans; it tastes like you blended strawberry shortcake ice cream bars with bananas); and plenty of catchy IPAs like the “purple purple miata miata” (a DDH luxuriously hopped India Pale Ale brewed with the freshest Vic Secret and Galaxy; smooth and tasty fresh Australian hop terroir, delicious pineapple and slight pine), there’s something for every adventurous palate at The Veil.
Väsen’s beers are just as unique as the name. With rustic and funky flavors of Belgian farmhouse and sour ales, this brewery honors the owners’ Scandinavian heritage and translates as “one’s inner essence” or way of being. Not only is their beer delightful, so is their vision. According to their website, “Väsen is on a mission to be one of the most sustainable breweries in the nation. As a purpose-driven brewery, we see it as our responsibility to propel the industry forward by using a holistic approach to sustainability. We created the Väsen Environmental Program as one step in this journey. Our legacy will be built on the sustainability practices enacted under this program for generations to come. In order to create change in the beer industry, Väsen starts at the local level. By working hand-in-hand with Virginia farmers and energy producers, we rely on a local and sustainable supply chain. Together we strive to achieve sustainable brewing with 100% reuse and recycling of the resources we use to make quality beer. It’s our goal to make thoughtful, data-driven decisions that make the environmental footprint of every aspect of our business (from beer to merchandise) as small as possible.” Great beer. Incredible cause.
Three Notch’d RVA Collab House
Based in Charlottesville, VA, Three Notch’d Brewing Company is steeped in Virginia history, with men like Jack Jouett, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington playing a role in the Three Notch’d story. Beers named “No Veto English Brown Ale,” “Minute Man IPA,” and “Ghost of the 43rd American Pale Ale,” give tasters a sense of the region. The RVA Collab house boasts 12 taps that include some of the award-winning flagship offerings, while also highlighting beers brewed hand in hand with local restaurants, homebrewers, nonprofits, musicians, artists, businesses and more.
Isley Brewing Company
Named one of the Top 50 brewery destinations in America by USA Today, Isley Brewing was one of the first on scene in 2013 and remains a fan favorite. Last year, their peanut butter porter, “Choosy Mother,” was named best craft beer in Richmond by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. If you’re feeling a little ambitious, we recommend mixing Choosy Mother with Plain Jane Blueberry for a little liquid PB&J. Remember the early 90s slogan, “Choosy mothers choose JIF”? We can promise you beer-lovers will choose this concoction time and time again.
Whether you stay on the Richmond Beer Trail and make the complete pilgrimage or only hit these five spots, the craft brew scene in RVA is too good to miss.