The Veil Brewing Company

Interview by Ashley Carpenter
Issue 41 • July 2016 • Richmond

For this urban taproom, the name of the game is small batches and inventive recipes—plus a mad scramble to keep ahead of an army of thirsty beer enthusiasts.

The Veil Brewing Company holds its own smack dab in the middle of Scott’s Addition, the rapidly growing beer mecca of Richmond. Since their first batch of hop-forward drafts were released this past April, they have proven to be a “destination brewery” for beer lovers all over the mid-Atlantic. Of course, I had to make the journey myself.

Prompted to visit on a release day, I zipped down to Richmond on a Tuesday afternoon to grab a beer before my interview appointment. Arriving at 3 PM, an hour before opening, I found a line of patrons several hundred deep that snaked around the block. After half an hour, a buzz started to spread: the case allotment had been announced online. This news sent everyone into a calculating frenzy, each attempting to determine if they were close enough to the front of the queue to obtain some of the three new beers dropping today.

Two hours later, I finally made it to the register, received my allotment, and retired to the tasting room. The atmosphere was dark and mysterious, the charcoal walls lined with elegant taxidermy. One could say “macabre chic.” My newly acquired treasure was a double dry-hopped variant of Master Shredder, their flagship American IPA, conveniently named Master Master Shredder Shredder.

After finishing a pint, I met with brewer and co-founder Matt Tarpey in the brightly-lit production facility, lined to the ceiling with colorful cans waiting to be filled, the faint smell of wort lingering in the background.

Matt Tarpey

You’ve been open hardly two months. Where did all of these people come from?

The reception to our beers has been an incredibly overwhelming, but humbling, experience. I’ve been here since 6 AM trying to crank enough out for today’s release. Locals have been the majority of our repeat business, but we draw people from all over Virginia and even down into North Carolina. I guess with my history, they trust that it will be decent enough to try. The support has been astounding.

Matt’s experience as a brewmaster reads like a craft beer Who’s Who list. He’s worked at O'Connor, The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, and even a stint at the elusive Cantillon in Brussels. Still, the excitement around The Veil has dwarfed even his wildest expectations.

What is the main focus behind The Veil?

To provide a unique atmosphere for the craft beer lover. Our focus on quality, the freshest hops, and our yeast set us apart while offering a simple, approachable draught list in the tasting room.

What’s with the coolship on top of the brewery? Will you be using it to produce any spontaneous fermentation sour beers?

We’re only canning now, but we will be investing in a small gravity fill bottler for smaller one-off projects prior to the spontaneous beer being released.

I’ll take that as a yes. When will these spontaneous brews be released?

To be honest, I’m just as clueless as you. It will be ready when it’s ready, these things take time. The only two other breweries in Virginia with spontaneous fermentation are using them as their house mother culture yeast strains. We’ll be using it in the more traditional method: blending one, two, and three-year-old lambics that are one-hundred percent spontaneously fermented with wild Richmond yeast, making each batch unique.

That line was crazy long. Is there anywhere else I can get your beer?

Our beer is only available at the tasting room on tap or in cans, usually with a designated allotment. We just hired a new brewer, Justin Anderson (formerly of Hardywood), and plan to be at full capacity by late June or early July. Once we’re at that level, we still probably won’t have anything left to distribute (we’ve already doubled production since opening in April). We have recently teamed up with a local craft distributor, Reverie Distribution, for special events and tappings with hopes to eventually distribute cans and small quantity draughts.

Finally, got a favorite beer?

That’s like asking which is your favorite child, not fair! I will say that Master Shredder and Crucial Taunt always deliver. They’re like the first born: always a great go-to, easy to drink, and still uniquely complex.

Visit The Veil in Richmond at 1301 Roseneath Road. Full brewing schedule is available online at theveilbrewing.com.

Photography by Mike Lesnick

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