Visiting Richmond, VA

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2017-12-15_19-23-13_027Every once in a while, I get to leave the confines of my office and hit the road.  I had to head up to Richmond, VA last week for a couple of days of meetings.  Once I locked in my travel plans, I took a look at the numerous Richmond breweries and bottleshops.   Richmond is quite a hotbed of craft beer these days, so there were many more places than I could visit during the little free time I would have during my time there.  I mapped out the few on my must visit list that appeared to be on the way to north Richmond – Veil, Hardywood, and The Answer.    On top of that, fortune was smiling upon me – Veil was releasing a new batch of Oreo Hornswoggler Chocolate Milk Stout on the Tuesday I would be driving up there.  I was able to get a couple of cans of Peanut Butter Oreo Horns a few months ago and really enjoyed them.  So having a release of Oreo Horns while I’m there was great news.

The drive up was uneventful and I arrived in Richmond around 5:30pm.  Fighting rush hour traffic, I found Veil located on a side street just off the main drag in Richmond (Broad St.).  I also found a long, long line snaking outside of the building.  I expected a line, but this was a LINE.  I was in no mood to wait, so disappointingly I headed to my hotel to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for my meetings.

After a solid day of productive meetings, I checked Facebook and again luck was on my side – Oreo Horns were still available!  I had about 2 hours before dinner so I
headed to Veil.  This time the line was about 5 people long – my kind of line!  I was in 2017-12-16_16-29-31_238and out of Veil in 15 minutes with my Oreo Horns.  The only downside was that I didn’t get a special token to get a limited edition Hornswoggler glass! (Note to the good people at Veil – I still would like a glass…).  Since the visit was so efficient, I decided to head over to Hardywood, which is about a 10 minute drive from Veil.  As it was with Veil, Hardywood was busy, but I was able to walk right to the counter and get a bottle of Christmas Morning, a bottle of Rum Barrel Gingerbread Stout and a nice matching Hardwood GBS 2017-12-16_16-12-41_185glass.  I was hoping to find Kentucky Christmas Morning, but they sold out of bottles a day or two prior…..and although they had KCM on tap, I passed and headed back to meet my dinner commitments.

On my way back to dinner, I passed The Answer and a Total Wine….unfortunately, not enough time to stop at either.  Why Total Wine?  I like to visit Total Wines as they provide insight into the local craft beer market and what is available in the market they serve.

My last day in Richmond wrapped a bit earlier than expected, so as I was heading out, I took the opportunity to stop at that Total Wine.  I walked around a bit and while I didn’t buy anything, the most interesting takeaway 2017-12-14_15-59-05_984was the picture on the left.  There you see Bell’s Black Note Stout in quantity!  Here in Raleigh, Black Note was a hot commodity at release, usually with a 1 per person allocation.  Here in Richmond, it sits.

Heading back to Raleigh was another uneventful drive safely wrapping up a productive couple days of meetings and visits to a couple of local breweries.  Unfortunately, I didn’t visit The Answer; that will just have to wait until the next time I’m there.  I also want to visit the new Stone Brewing facility….and Lickinghole Creek (although that’s a bit of a drive from Richmond)….and a few others!

Are there any other breweries, bottleshops, or restaurants in Richmond that I should check out the next time I’m there?  Let me know…drop me a comment!

Until next time – have a Stoutstanding week!

 

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A To-TOLL-y great time!

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2017-12-10_14-55-00_467If anyone follows my Instagram or Twitter feeds, you’ll know that The Toll from Raleigh Brewing is one of my favorite local Stouts.  To celebrate all things Toll, the good people at Raleigh Brewing decided to hold a “Fireside Chat”.  For a nominal admission price, you could enjoy unlimited pours (within reason of course) of 7 different Tolls – 2014 through 2017 The Toll as well as Rum, Bourbon and Port barrel aged The Toll.2017-12-10_14-54-10_543  There was food for all participants and everyone from Raleigh Brewing was available to chat – the Owners, the Brewers, and many of the staff.

I was fortunate enough to attend and really enjoyed myself.  It was a well run event and everyone from Raleigh Brewing was very friendly and accommodating.  I was able to get a few minutes with the owner of Raleigh Brewing, Kristie Nystedt, and she shared with me the reason for holding this event.  Raleigh Brewing never has held a release event for The Toll so this was a way to celebrate this popular Stout and it’s dedicated fan base.

I also was able to spend some time with the Head Brewer, Scott Craddock and the 2017-12-03_19-10-39_777other Raleigh Brewing brewers.  I asked them about their plans for The Toll and where they were looking to take their franchise Stout.  Specifically, I asked whether we would see any adjuncts (Coffee, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Coconut, etc.) in any upcoming releases.  Scott’s focus on The Toll is to make it the best Stout they know how – no adjuncts.  It’s clear that they know what is happening in the Stout world and they have no interest in duplicating what is already in the market.  They want to standout and be a leader by focusing on their strengths.

They do like to experiment with barrel aging, however.  Raleigh Brewing releases an annual Bourbon Barrel Aged version of The Toll (the 2017 vintage was just released a few weeks ago) and had on tap at the event a Rum Barrel Aged version and a Port Barrel Aged version.  I really enjoyed the Rum Barrel Toll and the Bourbon Barrel Toll is always solid.  As for the Port Barrel Toll, I wasn’t a big fan.   I was able to get the grape flavoring from the barrel but didn’t really think that added to the overall 2017-12-03_19-23-47_174flavor profile.  That seemed to be a common theme in my discussions with other attendees.

I was also able to steal a few moments with the Amy Hanson, Raleigh Brewing’s Marketing and Events Manager.  She was gracious and welcoming to all of the attendees..  We talked about social media and how important it is to local craft brewers like Raleigh Brewing.  We also discussed the Triangle Craft Beer Alliance, which was formed to promote the local craft beer industry – brewers, bottle stores, basically anyone affiliated with craft beer in the Triangle.

Reflecting on the Fireside Chat, I thought Raleigh Brewing did a great job promoting not only The Toll but Raleigh Brewing as a local small business.  Getting to know the people behind the logo makes you more loyal to that logo.  Thanks to Kristie, Scott, Amy and the rest of the Raleigh Brewing staff for the well run event…..and for The Toll!