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The best of central Virginia’s alcohol escapes

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Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 10:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Central Virginia is home to dozens of locally founded breweries, cideries, meaderies, distilleries and wineries all made with Virginia-grown ingredients. Here is our comprehensive list of some of the best spots to suit anyone’s alcohol taste and desires.

Breweries

The Answer Brewpub

Located on Broad Street, The Answer was opened in 2014 by founder and Chief Beer Officer An Bui. It features 56 taps, two bars and a performance area for live music. At this brewpub, the answer is always beer, no matter the question.

Ardent Craft Ales

Ardent Craft Ales is a taproom, beer garden and production brewery in Scott’s Addition open seven days a week. The beer garden is an outdoor space welcome to not just adults but also kids and dogs! (although, Ardent strongly discourages letting them sample their various brews.) They currently feature 14 different drafts and 12 packaged beers that can be bought to-go.

Bingo Beer Co.

This lager-focused brewery is a combination bar, restaurant and arcade located in Scott’s Addition, arguably the heart of Richmond’s brewery scene. The beers are made in-house and can be shipped all over Virginia and the D.C. area. Although Bingo Beer Co. is lager-focused, they also make IPAs, farmhouse beers, fruited sours and barrel-aged beers. Bingo Beer Co. can be rented out for private events and parties where guests can drink, eat and game.

Castleburg Brewery and Taproom

Castleburg is coined as Richmond’s smallest brewery, centrally located to everything in the city. Their taproom, known as The Castle, has 10 taps of award-winning beer. According to their website, the energy they have created makes anyone coming through their doors as comfortable as possible. “You can expect our home to feel like a place you can hang your hat.”

Its brews are made using a two-barrel setup, all crafted from American-made steel. Its recipes are rooted in the 16th-century Bavarian purity law, known as Reinheitsgebot, specifying that beer only is made with water, barley and hops. Brewmaster Karl Homburg produces “beer for the sake of beer” while simultaneously exploring and building upon beer’s most authentic flavors.

“In the end, every glass of Castleburg serves as an education—in what beer should be and what it can be, while remaining good, honest beer,” the website said.

Center of the Universe

Ashland brothers Chris and Phil Ray birthed Center of the Universe (COTU) out of their own homes. What began as a hobby quickly grew into something more. In 2011, the craft brewery was launched. The name comes from respecting the place the two call home and the people who make it feel that way. According to their website, “It’s about taking real pride in everything we do every day to serve and support the very community that has always supported us.”

Along with virtual tours of the facility and a tasting room located on 11293 Air Park Road, Center of the Universe also offers homebrewing basics on their website to encourage anyone who wants to try a hand at doing what the Ray brothers did the right way.

Visit their Facebook page to learn about any events or new product releases.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park has two locations in Richmond, one at 2410 Ownby Ln and the West Creek at 820 Sanctuary Trail Dr. Their mission was to “brew with a purpose” when they opened in late 2011 as one of two craft breweries in Richmond. They were ranked as Virginia’s Top Brewery in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by RateBeer.com.

The brewery prides itself on sourcing locally. According to their website, they brew with more Virginia ingredients than any other brewery by using locally grown hops, malted barley, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, pumpkins, peaches, honey, ginger, locally roasted coffee beans, herbs and spices.

In the entertainment department, Hardywood hosts monthly live music performances at their Richmond location known as“Shockoe Sessions,” featuring local musical artists of many different musical genres. There are other community events that are free to the public and open to all ages.

The Richmond location also has a pizza kitchen open four days a week, led by award-winning local chefs Joe Sparatta and Dave Draper.

The West Creek location features different food trucks almost every day. You can get your food at one of the featured trucks and reserve a gazebo that comes with a chilled six-pack of either Tangerine Suncrush or Richmond Lager stubby bottles.

Intermission Beer Co.

Owners Justin and Courtney met at TheatreVCU while studying set design and stage management. Justin began homebrewing with a few roommates while in school. After buying a house in 2007, Justin got back into home brewing, and their garage quickly filled with brewing supplies. Justin and Courtney promptly decided to open a brewery that combined their two passions: beer and the arts. Thus, the curtains opened on Sept. 1, 2017, revealing Intermission Beer Company on 10089 Brook Road in Glen Allen.

Intermission offers a variety of events from trivia, open comedy nights, date nights with deals featuring pretzels, Billy Pie personal pizzas, and of course, their very own house-made beer.

They offer a variety of brew styles, including IPA, Pale Ale, English Mild, Milk Stout, Irish Red and seasonal brews. One of Intermission’s signature brews, Curtain Up, a New England IPA, donates a portion of sales to The Actors Fund and the Theatre Artists Fund of Greater Richmond.

Visit their Facebook page to keep up with any events or find out what those seasonal brews are.

Legend Brewing Co.

This microbrewery has been providing award-winning premium beers to some of the best pubs and restaurants in central Virginia since 1994. The company has a 180 seat restaurant with a 200 seat deck and a small beer garden. Their RVA pub located on 321 West 7th Street has various brews pouring year-round along with some seasonal and limited options and a full menu of traditional pub food.

Legend Brewing Co.
Legend Brewing Co.(Legend Brewing Co.)

For beer lovers looking for a good party venue, Legend also offers up party menus and drink ticket options that guests can pick and choose from to serve for their events.

Strangeways Brewing

This Richmond-based brewery offers on-premise tasting room sales featuring over 36 unique beers, including IPA’s, lagers, Belgians, dark beer, sours and other specialty brews, as well as cider, spiked sparkling seltzer and wine. According to the website, it is known for “funky decor showcased by local artisans throughout the brewery” and peculiar main bars.

Strangeways currently has three tasting room locations in Richmond on 2277 A Dabney Road, Scott’s Addition on 3110 West Leigh Street and Fredricksburg on 350 Lansdowne Road.

Trapezium Brewing Co.

This Petersburg brewery opened in 2016 and took its name from the iconic Trapezium house, the 19th-century building intentionally built with no right angles, just a few blocks away from their taproom and 30 barrel production facility.

They distribute four core beers: white ale, IPA, session IPA, and their specialty lemon honey ginger all over the state. Trapezium also serves 14 drafts and, one of beer’s best food pairings, brick oven pizza at their Petersburg location on 423 3rd Street in Old Towne Petersburg.

They also have an Amherst location with a farmhouse on 76 acres of land that can be rented through AirB&B.

Cideries

Buskey Cider

Buskey calls Scott’s Addition home but delivers their handcrafted cider varieties all over Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. According to their website, their ciders are made out of only Virginia apples with no added sugars. Buskey will also collaborate with other RVA based businesses on some specialty flavors.

The tasting room and production facility on 2910 West Leigh Street have over 12 ciders on tap, served right next to the production tanks. They also have an outpost in Cape Charles featuring Buskey favorites on draft and cans.

Blue Bee Cider

This cidery is known as Virginia’s first urban cidery, located in Richmond’s alcohol mecca, Scott’s Addition, on 1320 Summit Ave. They hold one-hour public tours Thursday through Monday of their production facility to get a behind-the-scenes look at their property, which was once a stables complex from the 1940s. Tickets range from $5-$15 depending on your age and whether you would like to taste their award-winning ciders during your visit.

(Source: Blue Bee Cider)
(Source: Blue Bee Cider)

Their tasting room offers an indoor cider salon or an outdoor patio for your drinking pleasure. To pair with their various ciders, you can grab some grilled cheese or cheese boards from their Truckle Cheesemongers storefront location.

Bryant’s Cider

Bryant’s is a small-batch cidery featuring Brut ciders aged in bourbon barrels and dry ciders. The menu also features cider cocktails, mead and kombucha. The Richmond storefront is from the 1850s, with a small batch barrel house in the back. Bryant’s RVA also holds a weekly coloring book night every Monday with $5 grilled cheese and half off mainstay pours, as well as a game night every first Friday.

They also have a cider mill on Edgewood Farm, where other ciders are made in Roseland, Virginia.

Courthouse Creek

Courthouse Creek is a cider bar and apple orchard in Maidens, Virginia. This cidery prides itself as the only one in Virginia to produce all of its ciders using barrels and little to no preservatives, meaning their small batched bottles often will have sediments floating at the bottom. Don’t worry; it’s meant to be there as a part of the organic cidermaking process. According to the site, the orchard currently has a variety of American, English and French cider apple trees. Their menu also includes seasonally rotated gluten-free beer, wine and craft cider cocktails, catering to anyone’s alcohol preferences.

They hold a weekly food and music event every weekend on their farm located at 1581 Maidens Road.

Coyote Hole Ciderworks

Every cider made at Coyote Hole is made at Lake Anna with apples sourced from the Blue Ridge Mountains. They also source fresh fruit used in their other flavors from local farms and collaborate with other local small businesses.

Their tasting room is located in Lake Anna on 225 Oak Grove Drive, with 14 ciders on tap and a full menu of food made on site. They also host many weekly events like trivia on Thursday nights, movie nights on the lawn, car shows, seasonal festivals, monthly LGBTQ field days, Paint and Plant nights, and many more on their Facebook page.

Distilleries

A. Smith Bowman

This Fredricksburg distillery was first established in 1934 by A. Smith Bowman when he had an overabundance of grain on his 7,200-acre Sunset Hills farm in Fairfax County. Bowman made his first-ever batch of Virginia Gentleman bourbon whiskey with his two sons. Until the 50s, the distillery was the only producer of legal whiskey in the Commonwealth. Now, they have since relocated to Fredricksburg and have won “World’s Best Bourbon” at the 2016 and 2017 World Whiskies Awards.

A. Smith Bowman now offers 25 different types of bourbon and small batches of rum, vodka, gin, brandy and cream liquors. For the at-home bartender, they also have a page on their website dedicated to crafting your own cocktails with their various spirits. The distillery also offers hour-long tours with seven tour guides at their facility on 1 Bowman Dr.

Cirrus Vodka

Cirrus is made with Russet potatoes for a “smoother, more full-bodied vodka with a sweeter, creamier profile that is perfect for sipping or mixing in your favorite cocktail,” as stated on their website. The distillery uses an eight-step filtration and triple distillation using charcoal filtered water to get a purer flavor than other national brands would.

Their tasting room, located on 1603 Ownby Lane in Richmond, offers tours of the distillery to walk guests through the process of how this Richmond spirit is made and cocktail flights as a way to figure out the way you like to enjoy Cirrus Vodka best.

Sleepy Fox

Sleepy Fox is a craft distillery located in Ashland on 250 N. Washington Hwy. They offer 10 liquors ranging from 40 to 150 proof which includes:

  • 40 proof apple pie, cherry, peach and cinnamon moonshines
  • 93 proof straight bourbon
  • 110 proof Ole Fox long-aged single barrel bourbon
  • 60 proof maple whiskey
  • 80 proof vodka

Their location features a 54-foot tasting bar for shots or mixed drinks, and bottles can be purchased on-site to go along with glassware, hats and shirts.

They encourage patrons to follow their philosophy of “Skip the Nap, and Raise your Spirits!”

Three Crosses Distillery

This small-batch distillery is the first of its kind in Powhatan County, located on 3835a Old Buckingham Road. Most of their ingredients are sourced locally; the corn and rye used for their Route 13 Moonshine and Three Crosses American Whiskey are grown by Engle Family Farms in the county. They also donate a portion of the revenue from bottle sales to local charities each review period.

Three Crosses now serves food to go with the booze at the restaurant that opened earlier this year called “The Table.” It is open Wednesday-Sunday and is located within their facility. The Table features desserts infused with their house spirits and whiskey-infused sauces to go with those classic pub foods.

Check out what events they are hosting on their Facebook.

Trial and Error

Trial and Error is an experimental distillery that shares a space with Bombolini pasta on 1601 West Main St. Owners John and Lolita Kreckman realized after running their pasta shop for 10 years that they also had a passion for creating different kinds of spirits. With lots of trial and error (pun intended), they opened the tasting room in 2018.

Now, they make 13 different kinds of spirits sold in nine different ABC stores all over the state, including four citrus-flavored silver rums infused with the zest of the fruits to add that splash of flavor to your next cocktail.

Take a look at their latest spirit adventures on their Facebook page.

Virago

Virago gets its namesake from the word describing a heroic woman of great strength, courage, determination and vision. According to the distillery’s website, it infuses these characteristics into everything it does. The spirits are distilled slowly, laboriously using a vintage 2,500-liter Charentais-style alembic still. A complete distillation cycle takes up to 48 hours and ages in wood barrels.

Virago currently offers five varieties of gold and silver rum, tea-infused gins and coffee liqueurs, as well as cocktail kits and bartending accessories.

The tasting room is open for patrons Thursday-Sunday, offering a variety of featured cocktails using its own liquor, of course. Visit their events page to keep up on special events both on and off-site.

Meaderies

What is mead?

For anyone who may not know, mead, also known as honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage made out of fermented honey and water. Sometimes it is fermented with different fruits, spices, grains, or hops, according to Haley’s Honey featured down below.

Haley’s Honey

Haley’s Honey is a family-owned micro meadery that calls 253-237 East Broadway Ave, Hopewell, Va. home. According to the website, it has 14 varieties and cultivates the honey to produce the mead from its very own apiary, of which it also sells raw honey by the jar.

Tonya Haley is the founder of this operation; her father was a beekeeper and honey supplier, which gave her a unique insight into the beekeeping world. After selling honey for 20 years, Haley realized how oversaturated the local honey market had become. She decided to expand their products into mead making, her husband Mike, the lead mead-maker. Their storefront opened in 2018, and since then, they have made their honey wines a big hit in central Virginia.

Haley’s also offers specialty cocktails and a food menu, which you can determine what kinds of mead to pair with certain items on their menu.

They also have a Fredricksburg location on 1600 Princess Anne Street.

Black Heath Meadery

Black Heath is known as Virginia’s first urban meadery on 1313 Altamont Avenue in Richmond. According to its Facebook page, the mission is to support local beekeepers and Virginia agriculture while introducing people to the world’s oldest fermented beverage using local ingredients.

Check the events tab on their Facebook to keep up with what they have going on.

Wineries

Ashton Creek Vineyard

This 9-acre vineyard, located on 14501 Jefferson Davis Highway in Chester, was started in 2006 by the Thibault family. Ten years later, they opened up their 2,400-square-foot tasting room five days a week with a sustainable wine tap bar that can fill up growlers, glasses or by the flights. On Thursdays, there is a weekly happy hour from 4-6 p.m. with $2 off any glass, and from 6-8 p.m., $4 off any Ashton Creek Vineyards growler fill. They also have a full food menu with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Ashton Creek currently offers 14 white varietals, two Rosés and seven red varietals. According to an interview conducted by Chesterfield County with co-owner Rachel Thibault, $4 of every sale goes back to animal shelters. So patrons can get their quality Ashton Creek wines while helping a great cause. On top of all that, the vineyard is also available for weddings. Couples can choose from eight different event spaces to host their ceremony and/or reception and have a drink or two on them!

Keep up with any events or special sales by following Ashton Creek Vineyards on Facebook and Instagram.

Byrd Cellars

Byrd Cellars on 5847 River Road W in Goochland is a three-generation, family-owned 8-acre vineyard. There are nine varieties of American, European, and hybrid grapes on the vineyard to make 22 vegan-friendly wines. This includes specialty beverages like red and white sangria, frozen wine slushies for the summer months, and premixed hot spiced wine for winter. All are priced at no more than $22 a bottle. Speaking of bottles, when you buy a wine from Byrd Cellars and bring back empty rinsed-out bottles, you get 50 cents back per bottle returned for your efforts in being environmentally conscious.

Their tasting room, located two miles away from the vineyard on Davis Mill Road, is open for tastings from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. They offer outside seating on a covered porch or indoor seating with loft picnic tables. They also offer light food and snacks, or guests can bring a picnic. Guests may also rent out the entire building outside of business hours to host private events for groups.

Castle Glen Winery

Castle Glen Winery planted its first vines in 2009 on 18185 Narrow Path Trail in Doswell and began to sell its wine in 2015. Their vineyard is only eight minutes away from Kings Dominion and is family and dog-friendly. They offer “vineyard visits” where guests can book a wine tasting and learn how their favorite wines are made. They currently offer 11 kinds of wine and wine slushies to go.

They also have event spaces on the vineyard and in their barn for weddings where couples can enjoy open bars, full catering and even food trucks for their special day.

Check their website for any special events open to the public, like live musical performances.

James River Cellars

This Glen Allen winery on 11008 Washington Highway has been serving Virginia wines since 2001. Founder Ray Lazarchic decided one day while searching for the perfect Virginia Gewürztraminer, to figure out how to make his own on 20-acres of his farm in Montpelier. Now, his daughter Mitzi and her husband, James, own and operate the 20-acre vineyard and winery.

The tasting room is open seven days a week, Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guests can bring their chairs or blankets and find a space on their lawns to enjoy wine flights or wine by the glass or bottle. Reservations are not required to visit, and guests are welcome anytime during business hours. Indoor seating can accommodate groups of eight people or fewer. They are also pet and child friendly.

James River Cellars currently offers 10 white varietals, nine red varietals, and four sweet wines in their tasting room and at over 30 retailers all over the state.

They also host special events which are up to date on their website calendar.

Jolene Family Winery

Voted first best winery in Style Weekly’s Best of Richmond 2021 Reader’s Poll, this Quinton winery on 2750 Pocahontas Trail overlooks Tom Brooks Lake on one side and the vineyard on the other. Siblings Sandy Lewis, Brian Mikelaites, and Cindy Mikelaites grew up on the property, where it began as a nursery owned by their father in the late 80s. The property was then passed on to the three by their parents, Joseph and Helene. The siblings decided to name the winery a combination of their parents’ first names in memory of them and their love for them.

Indoor and outdoor seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis, but guests are welcome to relax inside The Veranda, cozy up next to a fire in The Greenhouse, or bring a blanket/chairs and your picnic to sit in The Pines. Guests can also book lakeside lounge tents in The Pines to enjoy a glass (or a bottle if you so please) in comfortable, furnished, and temperature-controlled tents with up to eight people.

They are open year-round Thursday through Monday and currently serve nine different types of wine. If wine isn’t your cup of tea, they also have Coyote Hole ciders available in their tasting room, as well as a small selection of prepackaged snacks. The winery even hosts different food trucks each weekend, featured on their event calendar and other fun activities like yoga and live music.

Southern Revere Cellars

This family-owned and operated farm brewery/winery calls Louisa County home on 1100 E Jack Jouett Road. They have over 70 acres of picturesque land. With their soft open in Dec. of 2021, they serve 12 different kinds of beer and six different kinds of Virginia wines with grapes grown in the vineyard and from around the state.

Their modern yet rustic Tasting Barn is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chairs, blankets, pets, picnics and children are welcome, all at the same time even, if you so please.

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