Robyn Sidersky and Matthew Korfhage contributed to this report
Brewing like a pro
There are good homebrew recipes, and then there are Great American Beer Festival award-worthy homebrew recipes.
Joel Miller makes the latter.
Miller, a nurse anesthetist and amateur brewer from Glen Allen, took home a silver medal last month from the nation’s largest and most important beer festivals for Leicht, a European pale lager he made with the Peninsula’s Precarious Beer Project.
“It was just kind of surreal,” Miller says of walking across the stage in Colorado to claim his medal. “It took a while before I could settle down.”
Miller says they knew they had a solid beer, but medaling was still “a shock.” Leicht was one of eight German-style beers to win medals for Virginia. The state took home 13 overall.
Miller has been homebrewing for about six years and producing Leicht for the past two. The recipe has remained relatively unchanged, he says, and it’s won accolades from competitions around the commonwealth.
“It’s one of the (simplest) beers you can actually brew,” he says. “Nothing really fancy about it.” But it’s not the kind of beer that hides flaws, he adds.
Miller says Precarious reached out to him and asked if he’d brew Leicht for the Pro-Am competition at this year’s Great American Beer Festival and he felt honored to work with them on it.
But he has no intention of quitting his day job.
And the Crushie goes to…
Speaking of awards, craft brewers can now win accolades for something other than brewing great beer. In 2020, the Craft Beer Marketing Awards, dubbed “Crushies,” will recognize excellence in several marketing categories, including:
- Best Can
- Best Tap Handle Design
- Best Merchandise Design
- Best Use of Social Media
- Best Website Design
- Beer Marketing Wild-Cards, like coolest taproom
More additions to Scott’s Addition
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, of Alexandria, announced plans to open a food hall in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition sometime next year. The new food hall is a first for the city and The Veil Brewing Co. will move its current taproom into the space when it opens.
Dubbed “The Belleville” due to its location on Belleville Street, it will feature 25,000 square feet of space, 18 food vendors and three bars. The Veil is expected to relocate its taproom when the property opens sometime next year.
Express your appreciation for beer by brewing up some creativity at the Chrysler Museum of Art’s engravers mug club event from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Perry Glass Studio. Draw inspiration from the museum’s collection of historic beer steins, explore the basics of coldworking, and engrave your own mug. Top off the day with a private tour of O’Connor Brewing Company. Ages 16 and older. Cost: $64 for museum members, $80 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chrysler.org/events.
Williamsburg Winery reaches the Hilltop
Virginia Beach’s Hilltop neighborhood recently became home to a wine bar from one of the state’s most decorated wineries.
Williamsburg Winery is the largest in the state, a fixture in Tidewater since its founding by Patrick and Peggy Duffeler more than 30 years ago. It is also one of the few in Virginia to win multiple Governor’s Cups — awarded annually by the Virginia Wineries Association to the single best wine produced in the state — most recently in 2014 for the winery’s 2010 Adagio red.
The winery opened a 36-seat wine bar in mid-September at the La Promenade Distinctive Shops on Laskin Road, with the goal of serving a broad selection of wines alongside a few guest bubblies, craft ciders and a small food menu.
It’s the second new tasting room for the winery; it opened a Colonial Williamsburg tasting room in 2017. Before then, the only tasting room for Williamsburg Winery was at its Wessex Hundred vineyard, near the James River.
“We decided a couple years ago that expanding our reach to the market through tasting rooms was the right move for us,” said Patrick Duffeler II, chairman of the winery and son of its founders. “Given that some 60-odd percent of our wine club hails from the Southside, doing something there would be in our interest.”
An infusion of Unicorn Fuel is on its way to Shockoe Bottom.
Bryant’s Creek Small Batch Cider plans to relocate its Richmond tasting room by January to a mixed-use building at 2114 E. Main St., in the popular historic area, according to a press release.
The Nelson County-based cidery opened its original Richmond tasting room in Jackson Ward a year ago. This move will double its current production capacity, the release says. Bryant’s produces its cider exclusively on a 386-acre, family farm and orchard in Roseland, where it has another tasting room.
The Shockoe Bottom location will feature a cider lab where customers can create their own customizable drinks with flavored tinctures. Bryant’s – known for Unicorn Fuel, made with hibiscus and rose hips – is experimenting with a Victorian, steam-punk concept consistent with the age of the 1850s building. Owner Jerry Thornton says the new spot is representative of the cidery’s brand and identity.
“The cider lab is a fun way for us to embrace all the weird and funky flavor profiles we like to create,” Thornton said in a statement. Bryant’s will also use the new 1,200-square-foot production facility as a collaboration and testing space for exclusive and barrel-aged ciders.
“We felt this building would be a unique opportunity,” Thorton said. “Back in the 1850s, our farm mainly produced apples that were shipped to Richmond. We want to preserve the history, embrace our roots, and have a reminder of our farm at our new location.”
More Medals for Bowman
The A. Smith Bowman Distillery took home a double gold medal at the 2019 North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition this year for its John J. Bowman Single Barrel. The distillery also won a gold for Bowman Brothers Small Batch and a silver for Isaac Bowman Port Finish.
Brewing a Vibrant Shore at the Oceanfront
More than two years after it was first announced, a new brewery called Vibrant Shore will arrive at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront — with room for 150, a rooftop patio and a mural depicting a spiral in the sky and the imposing bust of King Neptune.
Vibrant Shore Brewing Company is due to open by November at 501 E. 18th St., a block or so from the long-planned, much-delayed Virginia Beach location of Richmond’s Isley Brewing.
“It’s gonna look fabulous,” said owner and brewer Rhett Rebold of his Vibrant Shore brewpub. It will be full of cozy nooks, Rebold said, so each person can find their own place to be: at the bar, atop or underneath a mezzanine area, out on the front patio or sitting on the roof.
Rebold has been brewing beer since even before the first legal craft brewpub was allowed in California back in the 1980s — when a college roommate got him a fateful homebrew kit, and he tried the first recipe he found.
In 1995 he was named the best homebrewer in the country by the American Homebrewers Association, largely on the strength of a German-style Helles lager that won best in show at that year’s beer competition.
Rebold expects to have eight or nine taps of his own beer pouring when the brewery opens its doors, including a recipe similar to that award-winning lager. He’s also looking at adding a cold-brew coffee tap from his neighbors at Fathom Coffee, and maybe a kombucha tap from Virginia Beach’s Maha Kombucha.