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Richmond bars see signs of the apocalypse

Lena Price January 22, 2013 3
Apocalypse Ale Works logo, left, and Three Brothers Brewing kegs

The Apocalypse Ale Works logo, left, and Three Brothers Brewing kegs. (Courtesy of the breweries)

Beers from two new Virginia breweries are about start pouring from taps in Richmond.

Locally based Brown Distributing has inked deals with Apocalypse Ale Works and Three Brothers Brewing Company.

Jacob Brunow, craft and import manager at Brown, said Harrisonburg-based Three Brothers would roll out in Richmond by the end of the month, including on draft at Mekong, Sedona Taphouse, Toast and Popkin Tavern.

Apocalypse Ale Works, a two-week-old brewery outside of Lynchburg, will launch at Gallery5 in Jackson Ward in March.

“Both of these breweries are about the size of Hardywood,” Brunow said. “They want to get in some key accounts, build up slowly and see what the market is like here.”

Three Brothers and Apocalypse will start out on five or six taps, Brunow said. Brown will incorporate the brands into its Taste the Local campaign, the company’s program to get more local and Virginia craft beers on taps across the state.

“Apocalypse and Three Brothers are both doing some really interesting beers,” Brunow said. “It’s not going to be more of the same old lagers and pale ales.”

It’s all part of the plan to make Richmond the heart of the Virginia craft beer movement, Brunow said. About 30 craft beers are represented in Richmond, compared with about 10 in Northern Virginia.

Brown has helped introduce Richmonders to beers from Virginia breweries such as Roanoke Railhouse and Devils Backbone. That’s in addition to the entrance of newer Richmond breweries such as Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Center of the Universe Brewing and Midnight Brewery.

Doug John, who co-owns Apocalypse with wife and brewmaster Lee John, spent 23 years as a home brewer before going out on his own.

He said Apocalypse would send to Richmond an imperial red ale and a chocolate stout, along with its specialty, Golden Censor.

“The Golden Censor is made with Canadian honey and orange peel,” John said “It has an incredible aroma, and it’s a great summer beer. It’s going to be our gateway to the masses.”

Three Brothers launched at the end of 2012. Three of its beers will be available in Richmond, including Coffee Breath: an English brown blended with locally roasted coffee.

Three Brothers co-owner Adam Shifflett said being picked up by Brown gives the brewery the chance to see how its product performs outside of Harrisonburg.

“There’s a big difference between a brewery startup where we are versus a startup in Richmond,” Shifflett said. “We have a more limited audience, and it’ll be good to get feedback from an area that already has a really strong craft beer identity.”

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3 Comments »

  1. Mighty Casey January 22, 2013 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Brown Distributing gets a lot of credit for the growth of the brewery and craft booze scene in Richmond. They’ve got a strong sense of their market, and seem to be ahead of the trend curve a majority of the time. Smart business brains with a love of good adult beverages – the recipe for success? Seems so!

  2. Chris Terrell January 22, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

    I’m curious how far the $9 six-pack will continue to cut into the $5 six-pack market (and when will that pendulum stop?), and how much cultural change will result from it. Also curious if the craft brew culture peels away drinkers of wine and spirits. I’ve been a Legend fan for a long time, and I’m glad to see they have some strong local and not-as-local competition to keep them on top of their game. Looking forward to trying both of these new brews!

  3. ryan January 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Not to be confused with Apocalypse Brew Works. I guess brewery names are like band names, all the good ones are taken.

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