Fantoberfest: A Microbrew and Music Festival

If you can’t find a festival in Richmond this weekend, you’re not trying hard enough. Not only is the Richmond Folk Festival happening this weekend, it’s got a bit of competition.  Fantoberfest is a ten hour microbrew and music festival happening in the Fan, if that wasn’t plainly obvious in the name.  Local bands featured include  Kings of Belmont, The Big Payback (a James Brown cover band), Peoples Blues of Richmond, and No BS Brass Band (last year’s folk festival stand out). Headliners, Less Than Jake, inclusion on the neighborhood fetival ticket had one local music blogger doing a double take; I take this to mean who ever put these acts together did something right. 

Fantoberfest will boast 10 -12 microbrews with $5 pints & $3 half pint tasting portions.  If that wasn’t enough, your first pint is free with the price of admission ($12 in advance/$15 at door).  Virginia breweries featured include two 2011 Great American Beer Festival medal winners, Starr Hill and Devil’s Backbone, and the new guys in town, Hardywood.  Here is the current list of breweries:

Starr Hill Brewery

Legend Brewery

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

Southern Tier Brewing Company

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Food will be available for purchase from Star-Lite, Lady Nawlins, FW Sullivans, and Delux. Whether you go for the music or the beer, expect to have a great time.

Buy your tickets here. 

Empress Teases Fall Menu with Beer Tasting

The Empress will be holding a seasonal beer pairing as they unveil their new Fall/Winter menus.  They will be pairing the beers below with five items from the new dinner menu.  Unlike previous Tuesday Tasting, they are keeping the food pairings a secret.  Normally, I would be concerned not knowing the menu but this is Empress we are talking about.  Anyone who has eaten there knows that anything that comes out of that kitchen will be nothing short of spectacular.

Breckenridge Avalanche Amber Ale
Aromas of pale grains, a semi-sweet middle & clean as Colorado-snow finish with flavors of pale & caramel malts with a touch of bitter hops. ABV 5.41%

Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen
Aclassic German Oktoberfest with sweet malt throughout, a touch of hops at the finish and some hints of orange & spice. ABV 5.8%

Buffalo Bill’s American Pumpkin Ale
George Washington may have made the first American pumpkin beer.  This beer uses with real baked & roasted pumpkins, cinnamon, clove & nutmeg , this microbrew delivers “pumpkin pie in a bottle.” ABV 5.2%

Crispin English Dry Cider (Empress Style)
Traditional farmhouse cider bouquet with soft subtle natural apple sweetness up front & a slightly woody dry lingering finish. Spiked with Empress Apple Cider to create the most wonderful cold seasonal cider experience in RVA. ABV 5.8%

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Beer with a kick. a dark ale & espresso bean brew with elements of chocolate, malt, cocoa and vanilla with a balanced sweet bitterness. ABV 7.5%

Head over to the event page to read more about the tasting.  Call to reserve your spot.  Tasting starts at 7pm for $25.  I hope to see you there and be surprised right along with you as we taste our way into Fall.

The Empress
2043 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
(804) 592-4000

BEER-istoric Tour of Richmond

Well, I totally missed this one.  Tickets for a beer-centric historical tour of Richmond went on sale Oct 3rd at the downtown Capital Alehouse and Mekong. Yesterday, Mekong sold out of their tickets yesterday and as of a few minutes ago Capital Ale only had a few left.  Below is the original copy from the Facebook event

Learn about the history of Richmond Beer dating back to its beginning!

Tickets will go on sale October 3rd at Capital Ale House Downtown and Mekong Is For Beer Lovers.
Last year we only had room for 60 and sold out in less than 2 weeks. This year we have added another bus and increased the size to 100 people!

Those who loved this last year, this tour will be slightly different and so will the beers!

Tickets will be $20.00 per person and all profits will go to the Bottom 2 Back bus line.

Will include at least 5 Beer-centric locations and at least 8 Local Breweries with special brews!

This will be the last event for “Richmond Beer Week”
Sunday November 13th.

Hosts: Virginia Historians Mike Gorman & Eric Mink
Route and Special Guests will be announced October 1st!

With demand being so high and the date being a month away, I’m really hoping they add another bus.  What are you doing still reading?  Get over to Capital Alehouse now and get a ticket.  Buy me two while you’re at it. 

Hardywood Wants to Be Your Neighbor


Monday night, I had the opportunity to visit Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and sample a few beers they plan to offer.  Hardywood will have 3 beers in their lineup start:

  • Singel — an Abbey style Belgian Blonde Ale. Hardywood is looking for this to be their flagship beer. Personally, I’m happy they chose a style other than an IPA like at so many other breweries.  Look for it in stores and restaurants the second week of October.
  • Farmhouse Pumpkin — this will be part of Hardywood’s Reserve Series. Co-owner Eric McKay grilled the pumpkins for the pilot batch we were tasting. While I wish this step could be carried through to the larger batches, I realize the difficulty makes this impossible. You should be able to find this one early to mid October.
  • RVA IPA — Brewed using locally home-grown hops.  This will mark Harywood’s first annual community hopped beer.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a brewery sourcing hops from their community.  Take a look as as Eric McKay gets the hops ready to go into the brew here.  Make sure you come out to the launch party October 22 for your first taste of this beer.

But the real question is will Hardywood be a success. My Magic 8 Ball says “All Signs Point to Yes.”

  • Community Focused — Take a look at some of the suggestions made in the forum on their website then walk in to their tasting room. A short look around the room and I saw at least 3 examples of where site suggestions were used.
  • Commitment to Locally Sourced — RVA IPA uses locally sourced hops. They plan on taking things one step further by giving out hop rhisomes for people to grow in the hopes of getting a portion of their bounty.
  • Weber Grill Onsite — OK, so maybe it’s a lame reason but if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love my Weber Grills.  I did not get a chance to ask him but I’m pretty sure that Eric McKay grilled those pumpkins on that grill.  So for that, they get bonus points from me.

So mark your calendar for October 22nd and come out to Hardywood’s Launch Party. Go over to the Facebook event page to see more of what they have planned here.

Empress Invites Fellow Glutenites for Beer Pairing

So here I am in Denver and all I can think about is how awesome tonight’s beer pairing at The Empress.  Ok, maybe not the only thing, but if I were there this would be on my top of my list of things to do tonight.  So why all the excitement over this pairing? Well, imagine for a change that you could not enjoy a majority of beers because of the debilitating side effects caused by being a celiac.  Now, I’m actually surprised it’s taken Carly & Melissa this long to come up this event.  I imagine finding six gluten free beers that would pair  well with food was a challenge.  I remember going to Whole Foods and looking for gluten free beer to take to a friend and only finding two choices.  I’m pleased to see that this number has increased.  I am a true believer that there should be a beer for everyone to enjoy without risking their health.  With their plans to produce a strawberry gluten-free beer, it appears that Dogfish Head agrees with me.  I hope the inevitable success of this beer prompts other craft brewers to follow suit. 

Wow, sorry about getting all soapboxy on you.  I’ll step down and get back to the food.  If there is anyone in Richmond that could pull this off, it would be the ladies of The Empress.  Take a look at the menu below complete with personal invitation from The Empress(es) themselves.

This week we are treating all of our fellow “glutenites” to a night of carefree fun. Our 6 gluten free beers (no ciders tonight) will be paired with 6 foods we crave yet can NEVER eat. You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy this tasting, but if you are then you might just be in heaven. Our menus are much more health conscious usually, but we wanted to really give you all what we think you crave the most.

St Peters G-Free 4.2% with GF Fried Cheese Sticks
Described as ‘a clean, crisp gluten-free ale with a pilsner style lager finish and aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops.

New Grist Sorghum Session 5.75% with GF Seitan Sliders on GF Italian Rolls
Lighted toasted malts upfront. Possibly some hop character hiding in the background, lending just a hint of bitterness. Finish is sweet and tart like green apples.

Redbridge 4.8% with GF Deep Pan Pizza w/ Crispy Chorizo, Mozzarella, Bella Vitano & Fresh Basil with Homemade Tomato Sauce

A rich red ale, full-bodied lager brewed from sorghum for a well-balanced, moderately hopped taste.

Brooklyn Bards 5.0% with Bison, Vegetable, & Cheese Stuffed GF Shells with Red Sauce
Grainy malt up front with some lightly sour bread notes. Some dry caramel in the middle and a bit of spicy hop character. The dry toast character lingers into the finish with moderate hop bitterness and some more herbal hop flavor.

Greens Triple 8.5% with GF Fried Chicken w/ Red Cabbage Slaw
Similar to the aroma, it is too sweet and grainy. That said, it has some nice layers of fleshy fruit, banana and clove. Ends with a stitch of spicy hops

Greens Endeavor Dubbel 7% with GF Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
The taste is red fruit, sweet, overripe grapes, some nondescript earthy graininess, and soft, slightly funky, Belgian yeast. The carbonation is average, the body light, and a bit watery. It finishes off-dry, the fruitiness persisting, getting warmer in concert with the temperature.

The Empress has doubled the number of seats they normally hold becuase of the buzz surrounding this tasting.  Make sure you get yours by reserving a spot on the event page. Tasting starts at 7pm for $25.

The Empress
2043 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
(804) 592-4000

New Day, New Belgium Beer

After almost two months, today is the day when Richmond will finally get the opportunity to enjoy New Belgium beers locally.  You saw what my initial picks were back then.  We will see if any of those besides Fat Tire were selected.  A little birdie tells me that Whole Foods in Short Pump will be sampling their New Belgium selection all day today. So head out and give something new a try.

Crossroads Dogfish Head Tap Takeover


Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream on Forest Hill had their taps taken over by Dogfish Head beer. Were you there? If not, here is a little of what you missed.

Lawnmower — a beer so limited it is typically only sold in Delaware.

Namaste — Belgian style White with organic orange slices and lemongrass

Theobroma — one of Dogfish’s Ancient Ales.  There is no description that could do this beer justice.

90 Minute IPA — I’ll admit I tried this beer to get an Untappd badge but if Dogfish Head keeps making beers like this one, they will turn me into a hophead soon enough.

Now this was only half of the beers on tap.  Someone asked me why Crossroads was doing this. The only response I could give is because they are awesome! Thanks to Crossroads, I will crave pistachios with my beer from now on. Don’t believe me; go to Crossroads and prove me wrong.