If you’ve made the trip down I-64 recently to check out an REI garage sale or pop in at the General Assembly, you may have noticed a familiar sign or two in the area. Restaurants and breweries that are native to Charlottesville continue to appear all around our eastward neighboring city—and while we love any excuse to remind the world of our uniqueness, it’s important to remember that sharing is caring, right?
Champion Brewing Company owner Hunter Smith is one of the most recent Charlottesville business owners to set his sights on Virginia’s capital, and the downtown Richmond location quietly opened in February. It’s hard to imagine our fair city without the beloved Shower Beer or Missile IPA, and for Smith it only made sense to introduce the brewery, the concept and the beers to a larger and, according to Smith, different market.
“In the Richmond beer scene we see a very savvy customer who’s always into the newest thing,” Smith says. “Charlottesville seems to really take favorites as far as beers they love, staple beers that they want to keep. There are staples in Richmond, but it’s all about what’s new and what’s next.”
Three Notch’d Brewing Company CEO and founder George Kastendike agrees.
“The beer culture there is extremely innovative, with some of the most educated consumers in the country on craft beer,” says Kastendike. “With the greater demographics of Richmond being larger than Charlottesville, it was challenging. In order to do it in an authentic way, we needed to put some real thought into the concept.”
Much like Champion’s Richmond location, the newest Three Notch’d at RVA Collab House will always have its classics like the Minute Man IPA on tap. But it’s a different neighborhood, a different city and a different market, and the team’s mission all along has been to make each taproom consistent in culture and experience while embracing the surrounding community.
“What they’re looking for is a cultural experience,” says Kastendike of both Charlottesville and Richmond beer consumers. “That’s one of inclusion, a place where there’s freedom to express yourself. People are looking for innovative beer styles, definitely beers they can’t get in some of the other locations, and I think if you err toward that characteristic of experimentation, it offers some depth to the taproom and individuality to it.”
And craft beer isn’t the only piece of Charlottesville to make its way to the River City. Should you find yourself hankering for a meal reminiscent of home while you’re in Richmond, keep an eye out for Citizen Burger Bar, Marco and Luca, Zzaam!, Continental Divide and Christian’s Pizza.