Over the years, Richmond has established itself as a mecca for two things: history and beer lovers. But what many might not know, is that the River City actually made history for beer. In 1935 the Krueger Brewing Company created the very first beer can in Richmond, thus changing the way beer was packaged forever.
Today, Richmond is home to more than 30 craft breweries and cideries. To put it in perspective, if you visited five breweries a day it would still take you nearly a week to visit all of them. But say you had just one day to experience Richmond’s beer scene? Where would you go? Starting on the eastern side of the city and moving west, here are our top picks to brew up a perfect day exploring Richmond’s Beer Trail.
James River Transportation makes a stop at Hardywood West Creek.
Don’t want to drive? James River Transportation can accommodate your group of 2-28 for up to 7 hours, while RVA TukTuk offers a unique tour experience in a three-wheel, open-air ‘limo’ for 2-3 hours. Discover Richmond Tours offers pre-set itineraries as well as custom options.
Richmond got its start in the beer scene all the way back in 1866 when the David G. Yuengling Jr., eldest son of the owner of the nation’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, opened James River Steam Brewery near Rocketts Landing with a partner. The brewery was short-lived, but the underground cellars have since been granted a historical marker and are still visible from the Capitol Trail which makes a perfect starting point for a beer-ful day.
Specializing in hoppy, hazy beers, Triple Crossing began in a small downtown location before opening a larger brewhouse in Fulton, not far from Rocketts Landing. Named for Richmond’s legendary “triple crossing” of train tracks on three levels, the brewery is most known for its Falcon Smash IPA.
Recently named one of the best breweries on the East Coast, and once ranked 3rd best new brewery in the world, The Veil has made a name for itself brewing mostly IPAs and sours, though other brews rotate in and out – including Further, a Lambic inspired beer made with locally grown peaches and nectarines perfect for summer. The Veil is located in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood which is home to 10 breweries if you have time to explore even more.
Perhaps the one that started it all, Hardywood opened in 2011, long before Richmond earned its spot as a craft beer mecca, and forever changing the way Richmonders thought about beer. The brewery’s third beer, the now celebrated Gingerbread Stout, lovingly referred to as simply ‘GBS’ today, debuted shortly after its opening and put the brewery on the map by earning a rare score of 100 from BeerAdvocate and later a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup.
No Richmond beer tour is complete without a visit to The Answer Brewpub, whose founder, An Bui, was a semi-finalist for a prestigious James Beard Award. The Answer features 50 rotating taps of beers infused with anything from coffee to peanut butter cups and was born from Bui’s desire to have the freshest beer possible for his Vietnamese restaurant, Mekong – which coincidentally was named ‘Best Beer Bar’’ by USA Today.