When we first got into Richmond, VA, we made a night of hanging out at Capital Ale House trying a few of the beers local to the area, and then got to spend some time at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Monday, 3/10/14. We were lucky enough to meet a significant portion of the staff during our visit, but spent most of the time talking to head brewer Brian Nelson and co-founders Patrick Murtaugh & Eric McKay. They walked us around the original 12,000 sq ft facility as well as the other 19,000 sq ft building next door, while telling us all about what the brewery has to offer now and in the upcoming future.
On our way from Norfolk to Richmond on 3/10/14 we felt it was important to make a short detour for some sightseeing. We decided to take an educational tour of Jamestown with an archaeologist and, rather than visit Historic Williamsburg, felt a proper representation of the city could be experienced at the local brewery. AleWerks Brewing Company opened in 2005 but operated under the name of Williamsburg AleWerks until just over a year ago. The brewery was started by Chuck Haines, who secured the facilities of the defunct Williamsburg Brewing Co. He hired on longtime homebrewer, Geoff Logan, to handle the brewing and Geoff has been responsible for creating all of AleWerks’ recipes over the years. In keeping with the rich history of the area, they utilize a traditional 30bbl brick wrapped brewhouse with open flame, as opposed to the steam systems in operation at many other breweries. This day Corbin graciously served as our beer tasting and brewery guide. As an artist himself, Corbin shared his view of how brewing is the best form of art because you can enjoy a beer with all of your senses then, of course, you feel good afterwards.
The night of Saturday, 3/8/14 was the first time we utilized Couchsurfing in Norfolk, VA and, after having a great experience with our hosts, we spent most of Sunday afternoon hanging out with Greg Papp, the head brewer of Smartmouth Brewing Company. Smartmouth is actually open Wednesday through Saturday, but Greg was kind enough to spend time with us and give us a detailed look into the brewery. Greg and Porter Hardy IV, the President of Smartmouth, originally opened the doors to the facility in October of 2012 and have a goal to be super professional, clean, organized, and make good, easy drinking beer for everyone while supporting the community and waterways at the same time. They really want to get people in the area acclimated to good craft beer and, since they had expected 500 people recently at their one year anniversary where around 5,000 people showed up, it looks like they are doing just that.