Ross’s guide to drinking beer in the City

Allow me to take you on a totally biased tour of my favorite places to swill and sip beers in Richmond. And guys, St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a beer drinker’s penultimate holiday so this is, like, celebrating American cultural history! In a way!

Last Saturday I had some friends over to play D&D* and the Dungeon Master brought a four pack of Monk’s Blood (a Belgian dark ale by the 21st Amendment Brewery) to share. Can you imagine a more appropriate beer for a long night of D&D than MONK’S BLOOD? I will posit that the context in which you consume a beer is more important than — to a point — the quality of the beer. What say you!?

Look, I know you can go to wherever and drink a twelve dollar glass of Trappist ale served to you in a chalice decorated with the bones of your fallen enemies, but does it really beat drinking an ice cold Miller Highlife on the porch after moving your best friend out of his shitty Fan apartment into an even shittier Fan apartment? I say, good sir, that it does not.

So, with that in mind, allow me to take you on a totally biased tour of my favorite places to swill and sip beers in Richmond. And guys, St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a beer drinker’s penultimate holiday so this is, like, celebrating American** cultural history! In a way!


Garnett’s looks like the place Michael J. Fox would have gone in Doc Hollywood after a long day of listening to that zany/incompetent old doctor. It’s got this adorable counter that you can sit at, drink beers from its handful of well chosen taps, and eat amazing cakes.

Best context: Guys, all the single ladies would *love* to be taken here on a date or some such — whatever it is you single kids do these days. I hear it’s called sexting.

Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient***: 0.72

Legend Brewing Company

I mean, obvious right? It’s got the best view of the City in the City, and the best porch sit around. The only problem is that March is still, like, in the Winter. Hopefully we’ll get some of that sweet Global Warming California’s got and it’ll turn our weather frown upside down.

Also, I know everyone loves the Brown Ale — it’s their biggest seller; but, dang, that Lager is my jam lately.

Best context: A round of pitchers with the boys (or girls) on that first day of Spring or last day of Summer.

Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient: 0.19

Can Can Brasserie

Whoa, whoa, Mr. Fancy Pants. One of Richmond’s biggest myth is that Can Can is the most expensive/fanciest joint in town. Guess what my people: their happy hour is INSANELY AWESOME. Not only that, but their beer selection is always super pro. Let’s be honest, if the waiters are wearing blue jeans, how fancy can it be?

Best context: Can Can’s the perfect spot to ditch the kids and spend a night alone with the significant other. Although, hey, we’ve taken our kid there a bunch of times and he loves that you can color right on the table cloth.

Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient: 0.45


BELGIAN BEERS! Why does this place exist? A Vietnamese restaurant with a liver-boggling number of Belgian style beers has no business existing in a weird strip mall on Broad Street. But it does! And I am so happy about it! Also, everyone I meet seems to have a different tale about An, the proprietor, showering them with hospitality unheard of.

Best context: If you are really really hungry and don’t mind if you end up really really hammered, Mekong’s your place. Or, you can split a couple bottles with your Dad and make your mom or wife DD. They’ll love that!

Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient: 0.50

Commercial Taphouse

Commercial Taphouse has the most thoughtful selection of beer in the entire city — and I’m not just saying that. This is the truth. Some alehouses may have more taps, more seating, or better food, but none have as consistently — to borrow a Jazz dude word — “heavy” beer list. Go in there and order anything, I dare you. It will be solid.

While the rest of the Fan denizens stumble up and down Robinson like the collegiate undead, take heart that you are safe inside, surrounded by wonderful and flowing taps.

Best context: Do you like beer?

Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient: 0.34

* Yeah, Dungeons and Dragons, SAY WHAT YOU WILL — actually, my Dad said, “Did you win?” What a n00b!
** This country was built on the backs of the Irish, was it not?
*** The Leg Width to Jean Width Quotient turns out to be a super accurate means of measuring the general hipsterness of a place. A 1.0 on the LWJW scale means you’ve got on some seriously tight pants, likewise a 0.0 probably indicates a droopy drawers situation. Or, the LWJWQ might also be a measure of people who’s legs are SO MASSIVE that pants do not exist to cover them in a comfortable fashion.

If none of these are looking appealing for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, check out the Pub Wheel!

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Nice list, it is dead on. The only one I haven’t been to is Garnett’s so I’ll have to check it out.

  2. “While the rest of the Fan denizens stumble up and down Robinson like the collegiate undead,”

    Nice word painting.

    It took me several minutes to figure out the LWJW explanation, but then, I was never very good at ratios.

  3. LWJW scale… Your creation? Brilliant

  4. Hah! Great read. I think i need to go back to Commercial Tap House some time.

  5. Mekong’s tap selections have been awesome, and their big Belgian bottles are still the cheapest around.

    Caliente has a good selection of taps and bottles to choose from, and 20 wines under $20.

    Capital Ale House, (which doesn’t suck that bad if you bring your own people to hang with), has moved their American Micro pint special from Sunday 12-5 to Saturday 12-7 …$2 & $3 pints. And yes, they’re all out of your first choice from the menu so don’t bother ordering it.

  6. Jeff E. on said:

    Love it or hate it, Cap Ale still has the best selection in the City. Another that was left out, Belvidere at Broad, also has some interesting but limited choices on tap, with a good bottle selection. I’ll have to check out Garnett’s sometime granted my personal LWJWQ probably lingers around 0.3. I like to be comfy.

  7. bopst on said:

    Mekong has more Belgian beers than Belgium and at a relatively reasonable price too.

  8. rachel on said:

    if st patrick’s day is the beerdrinker’s “penultimate” holiday, what is the final beerdrinker’s holiday? are you predicting the apocalypse?

  9. @rachel Octoberfest is obviously the ultimate holiday!

  10. to borrow another jazz dude word – dig. this is spectacular.

  11. Jacob K on said:

    As an active nerd myself, I found it wonderful that you started out your article talking about drinking whilst engaged in D&D*. Hilarious. It’s good to know other nerds like to have fun and enjoy a good brewski or 10 with friends.

  12. Blake on said:

    nice. a follow up article, “a guide to buying beer in the city” would be stellar.

  13. Chief Redcloud on said:

    The most hammered you can possibly get for the cheapest price is Joy Garden at Broad and Sheppard. Every specialty drink is a delicious four to five liquor mixture of destruction complete with umbrellas and gigantic tiki glass . Try the Fog Cutter (AKA Fog Inducer!) or two-person Flaming Volcano served in a massive bowl with a flaming double shot of 151 in the middle! I guarantee you can fill up on apps, soup, entrees, and get fall down drunk all for $35.

  14. Brandon on said:

    “nice. a follow up article, “a guide to buying beer in the city” would be stellar.”

    I second this motion.

  15. To bestow still more jazz-dude laurels: Ross, this list is killin’.

  16. Oh yeah, I’ve got a pretty great porch-sit too, right down the street from the RVAnews offices. Ask Dean.

  17. He speaks the truth. The finest porch sit.

    Great list. I would second Capital Ale House, although when beer lovers come to town, I have to take them to both Cap Ale and Commercial Taphouse. Commercial Tap is pretty essential.

  18. Chris Elford on said:

    As much as it pains me to say it, Cap does probably have to be on that list. I second the motion for the Belvidere at Broad (selfishly) and also would suggest Comfort. Cous Cous recently added more craft beer, and Joe’s in added three more taps this week with more craft goodness.

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