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Beer Travels: The Veil Brewing Co.

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There’s something to be said for visiting a place in those quiet hours before the storm, when final preparations for opening day are taking place. Unloading furniture (some of the most beautiful brewery seating I’ve seen with table seating and lounge areas), preparing to run tap lines (with Hill Farmstead coming to help with draft set-up), sampling beers (beers which by now you all know are out of this world fantastic). It was all going on and then some during our sneak peek of The Veil Brewing Co. a few days before their official grand opening. A huge thank you to both Dave Michelow, co-owner of The Veil, and Lee Graves for hosting and arranging the behind the scenes visit!

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Old news I know, but anybody who’s anybody was in line at The Veil this past Saturday. I know this. I was stalking all of your updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter like a broken-hearted teenage girl who wasn’t invited to prom. Sadly Cody and I weren’t able to make it to Richmond two weekends in a row (and I guess that classifies us as a big bunch of nobodies). So because you’re a bazillion times cooler than we are, you’ve no doubt seen how stunning The Veil is already. And are well aware of the beer magic that Matt Tarpey, head brewer and co-owner, is creating, along with his impressive résumé. And know you aren’t allowed to touch the albino deer, even though I bet some of you tried it. Rebels.

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We got a sneak peak at the cans that now hold some of the best beers around (and are, may I say, now in hot demand) and a taste of two of their beers – Master Shredder, a citrus forward, wheat-based IPA and one of their flagship beers and Sleeping Forever, a full-bodied and smooth drinking Imperial Stout which will be their anniversary beer. The Veil plans to produce 2,500 to 3,000 barrels in their first year with 5,000 to 6,000 annually in about five years. They are a 15 barrel brewhouse with a 3 barrel test batch system which will be primarily used for special tasting room only beers and experimentation. The Veil will have 16 tap lines, but you’ll most likely never see 16 different beers on tap – more like 8-10 max. They’ll use the extra tap lines to double up if need be on certain beers if the tap room is a little hectic. How’s that for putting your customers first? They’ll also have filtered water available, cold brew coffee on nitro and offer a limited number of pre-filled Crowlers. So as I’m sure you all learned this past weekend, get there early!

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When we visited, Matt was busy working in the brewhouse area. If you stopped to take it all in (which was easy for me since everything was moving a little slow due to beers as big as your head the night before from The Answer) it was truly like watching an artist at work with the crisp, clean white floors, stainless steel tanks and beer being brewed his canvas. It was methodical and disciplined. And at the same time, beautiful. There’s something to be said in the appreciation for and perfection of one’s craft, and if you take the time to look around the brewery at all of the exquisite details and understand the hard work and passion that has gone into that glass of beer you’re holding, then The Veil has accomplished what it set out to do – put their heart and soul into creating a unique experience for beer lovers alike. If you’re not familiar with Matt or his brewing background, this Q&A with Alix Bryan is a must read. You’ll even gain some insight into where the brewery’s name came from and how significant that moment was for Matt.

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The Veil also has a rooftop coolship. What’s a coolship you ask? Explaining it is best left to the professionals as written by Lee Graves – It’s “the use of wild, airborne yeast to ferment beer. This technique harkens to ancient times, when yeast wasn’t fully understood, and is most commonly associated with the lambics of Belgium. Producing these tart, dry, funky, complex beers takes years of conditioning and, with gueze, blending to produce the desired range of flavors. Plus, special equipment is needed.”  Only 40 exist nation-wide, and the one at The Veil has a 450 gallon capacity. I also found this article by the Belgian Beer Specialist to be quite informative as he witnessed the history being made at The Veil and documented “The Veil firing up its Premier Stainless Systems brewhouse, and its specially built, 15-barrel coolship.” So very cool.

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Cody and I are already planning the next trip to Richmond, which may or may not be completely based upon what The Veil will be brewing and releasing in the upcoming months. Congrats on what was obviously an amazing opening weekend! And if you know, you have a can or two that you don’t really want, I’m sure you could twist my arm to take it off your hands!

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All images mine with the exception of the coolship photo belonging to Mr. Lee Graves.