Firefighter-friendly fare like Virginia-raised burgers, plus cask-tappings on Thursdays, and a tap list heavy on local favorites like Center of the Universe’s El Duderino white Russian stout.
Mekong An Bui started Mekong twenty years ago with woks and a wine list.
Southern food seems a runaway trend train on bacon-greased rails—it’s about time beer hitched along for the ride.
Despite oases like Asheville, North Carolina, long ranked as one of the best beer towns in the land, most of the southeastern United States has been hard country for beer lovers, bristling with legal thorns like ABV caps, on-site sales restrictions and a patchwork of dry counties. Virginia banned booze two years before Prohibition; until less than a decade ago, you could count Richmond’s craft breweries on one hand. In 2012, the senate passed a bill allowing breweries to sell their wares at the source, and now new ones seem to open every month while stalwarts grow even bigger.
Triple Crossing and Hardywood both opened in the last five years and are already building bigger new facilities.
Even Stone Brewing, those masters of the So Cal IPA have taken note — while other big craft brewers open second facilities in North Carolina (New Belgium, Oskar Blues), Stone is building a 200,000-square-foot brewery on the east bank of the river, just south of downtown Richmond.
Eric Mc Kay and Patrick Murtaugh moved south from the beer-sodden northeast, carpetbags stuffed with brews and eyes set on revamping the local scene.
They opened Hardywood in 2011 — at the time, they couldn’t legally sell their beer on-site so “we took out a banquet license and hoped for the best,” said Mr. Hundreds of thirsty Virginians showed up that first day; now thousands crowd the campus every year for the release of their flagship Gingerbread Stout.
With little local brewing tradition to follow, they’re inventing southern beer, one batch at a time.
Temperate waters run deep; the south doesn’t shuck tradition easily.
A fountain in honor of Prohibition still stands in Richmond’s Byrd Park—but while local bars runneth over, the fountain’s long gone dry.