The past, present, and future of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

A visit to Hardywood Brewery is, in essence, a visit to a local shrine for Richmond beer lovers. The guys at Hardywood embody all things beautiful in the world of craft beers: locally sourced, environmentally conscious, engaged in the community, and above all, high quality brewing practices. It’s a truly delicious experience.

A visit to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is, in essence, a visit to a local shrine for Richmond beer lovers. The guys at Hardywood embody all things beautiful in the world of craft beers: locally sourced, environmentally conscious, engaged in the community, and above all, high quality brewing practices. It’s a truly delicious experience.

In a recent visit, the story of Hardywood – past, present, and future – came to light through four unique tastings.

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Hardywood Singel

Fresh, original, full flavored

From the moment you walk into the Hardywood brewery you’re struck by the newness of their operation. Having opened only six months ago, the space is still in transformation: various tools are scattered about, hand carved taps lay on a bar that’s under construction, and pallets for a recent shipment lay piled by the loading dock. Yet, the time and energy Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh have dedicated to their business is clearly evident in what pours from their taps. It’s this dedication that has fostered their confidence to be a risk-taking and innovative operation. Bucking the trend of most craft breweries, Hardywood shot from the gate with a Belgium blend that wasn’t a sure bet. In a climate where IPAs and Pale Ales seem to guarantee a brewery’s early success, Hardywood’s signature Belgium was a bold move. Yet, the popularity of their pilot brew proves their innovative approach is not just a fluke of start-up luck, but, indeed, the key to their success.

The guys at Hardywood are excited. They are excited to be here in Richmond, and they are excited to push the limits of where their business is headed. However, this excitement is not the naive high of an adolescent. The excitement at Hardywood is tempered by experience, and their innovative approach is born from knowledge not arrogance.

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Belgium Starter (The Blank Slate)

Hearty, solid, great tasting

The level of experience with which the owners of Hardywood come to their business is impressive to say the least. After nearly a decade of working in the business of distribution for craft beer wholesalers, Eric harbors an amazing savvy for their niche market. With three generations of brewers behind him, Patrick might as well have a bit of stout running through his veins. Both, however, have been home brewing for nearly ten years and have developed a sophisticated taste for craft brew.

Unlike your more smash and grab entrepreneurs, Eric and Patrick’s approach seems to be ripped out of a ‘How to Start a Business’ book from a grad school econ class. Taking the time to lay a proper foundation has been a long road for the guys at Hardywood, yet the road has not wearied them in the least. The foundation they laid was not so they could simply sit back and watch the cash roll in; no, if anything the real engagement has only just begun.

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Hardywood Mocha Belgique

Earthy, locally sourced, soft finish

At Hardywood, the Richmond community is an essential part of the business. For Eric and Patrick, the people they serve don’t just matter as customers, but as neighbors and fellow citizens. It is for these reasons that they have taken such an energetic approach to community involvement.

The impact a business can have on its community can, indeed, be great. Knowing this, Eric and Patrick have taken extensive steps to ensure their impact is as positive as possible. For starters, all energy consumed at the brewery is sourced from 100% sustainable energy sources – 99% wind power, 1% other renewable energy – via the Dominion Green Power program. Additionally, the guys at Hardywood source a majority of their hops, wheat, and barley locally; even the wood for all their new taps and coasters are sourced from the city.

Already the guys have made a big step towards community engagement with The Community Hopping Project, in which locals grow their own root stocks for hops, donate them to the brewery, and collectively brew a community batch. As the business moves forward–and new bills are likely to become law–Hardywood sees the brewery becoming a hub for those interested in the process of creating craft beer and those just looking for a good time. With visions of food carts occupying spots in their lot and bands entertaining their guests, the guys at Hardywood are looking ever forward.

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Bourbon Barrel (Forthcoming reserve series)

Exciting, strong, smooth

Hardywood’s future looks bright. In only six months their team of just two has grown to eight. With the success of their tasting room, they’ve had the opportunity to get to know their customers, and the public has gotten to know them. Looking towards the summer, the Hardywood boys hope to build out their bar and serve glasses of all their beers in the comfort of the brewery. With an eye to the future and new experiments in the works, Hardywood is sure to become a destination for all beer lovers here in RVA.

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Josh Epperson

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