This past week, the awesome Richmond Beer Lovers group arranged a special “for-our-eyes-only” private visit to Hardywood Park’s brewery in Richmond. I’ve been following Hardywood ever since their inception last year and have been growing increasingly impressed with the quality and overall creativity of their beers, particularly their Reserve Series (the latest being the Hoplar) which are unique limited run offerings.
The Hardywood founders, Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh, go out of their way to provide for the community in various ways such as the Hardywood Community Hopping Project, a collaboration between the brewery and anyone interested in growing hops. Hardywood provides the rhizomes and volunteers plant them in their backyards and up they go, growing some of the freshest hops you’ll find anywhere.
In addition, Hardywood works with local farmers such as Ringer Farms to basically repurpose their spent grains back into local soils where the growing of grains, oats and barley begin all over again. This is truly a lifecycle project.
Last week’s tour consisted of 50+ diehard craft beer loyalists, many of whom are obviously Hardywood loyalists, including myself! Upon entry, one is greeted by various hops rhizomes growing just outside attached to Hardywood’s building. In through the comfortable tasting room we went and were whisked away to the production facility in the back.
The tour started out with a brief introduction by Eric followed by more extensive details by Patrick and their head brewer, Brian Nelson, both whom were eager to answer the many questions our group threw at them. These guys are obviously very passionate about their brews and extremely open to sharing the brewing process and pretty much anything else one asks them. For example, Patrick and Brian went over the 20 gallon pilot system they use to test and perfect new brews before deploying them to production. Great use of a small system when one might consider the yeast alone in the production process costs $600!
Hardywood recently purchased and received two 80 barrel fermenting tanks (link courtesy of Richmond BizSense) to allow for even more of their awesome brews. Patrick and Brian described the process involved with redoing their floors to support the extremely heavy weight while the tanks gleamed in the background, just waiting to be hooked up. This was in addition to the rows of spent wooden bourbon barrels we’re hoping had gallons of their excellent Bourbon Cru in them!
One of the aspects of their brewing I find particularly interesting (and inspirational) is their passion to brew as environmentally and ecologically friendly as possible. Hardywood participates in the Dominion Green Power program in which 100% of their energy usage is sustainable (99% provided by wind power and the last 1% provided by renewable energy).
Overall, it was an excellent evening shared with the awesome coordinators (especially Pierre!), great friends, great hosts and wonderful beer. I’m very much looking forward to the awesome brews Hardywood comes up with next as well as their continued success!
Location and contact info:
2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond, VA 23220