Last weekend, the ranks of U.S. breweries producing spontaneously fermented beers grew by one.
On Friday, March 4, The highly-anticipated The Veil Brewing Company of Richmond, Virginia, fired up its Premier Stainless Systems brewhouse, and its specially built, 15-barrel coolship.
The Veil Brewing Company is located at 1301 Roseneath Road, in the very popular Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Scott’s Addition is an old warehouse district where meaderies, cideries, breweries, and beer bars have opened in recent years, along with several upscale apartment complexes. The whole neighborhood is not more than a mile in length and width, making it ideally walkable for residents in this new center of artisanal alcohol production in Richmond.
At The Veil, The first three batches from of the 15-barrel system were all pumped to the coolship located in a special room on the brewery’s roof, and cooled overnight before being pumped into oak barrels at the brewery’s maturation facility, less than 2 miles from the brewery.
There should be close to 450 barrels at the maturation facility within a few years.
Veil brewer and co-founder Matt Tarpey is a veteran of The Alchemist brewery in Vermont, and was a direct assistant to brewer/owner Shaun Hill at Hill Farmstead Brewery for about two years.
Tarpey spent a few weeks doing an immersive internship at Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels in 2014, with brewmaster Jean Van Roy.
Tarpey returned to Virginia in 2015 to be near his family, and to open The Veil.
The first shipment of nearly 100 freshly-emptied red wine barrels was received from Napa Valley on February 24. The barrels were made in France, by Taransaud.
Tarpey, along with co-founders Dave Michelow and Dustin Durrance, and others, filled a number of these barrels the mornings after the wort cooled in the koelschip overnight, and the barrels are now at the maturation facility.
The Veil already has a use for its spent grain: Jules Walker, of Walker Farms in Dinwiddie county, about 50 miles south of Richmond, has already taken the spent grains from the first several batches brewed at The Veil to feed his Black Angus cows and his pigs. “They love the spent grains,” said Walker.
About his brewery, Tarpey had this to say: “In addition to our spontaneously fermented coolship beers, I also will do some wild/funky beers fermented with brettanomyces and bacteria here at The Veil.”
He continued: “We have one main 15 barrel brewhouse and one 3 barrel test batch system. The 3 barrel system’s main purpose will be for tasting room exclusives, experimentation, and collaborations. The flexibility with the smaller system will allow us to experiment with Brett and other mixed cultures on a more frequent basis.”
Fear not, beer lovers. You won’t need to wait years to drink beer from The Veil. Tarpey commented: “Our three year round beers will be an IPA with citrus, a double IPA, and a robust chocolate milk stout. There will be seasonal beers and one-off brews packaged in 16 ounce 4-pack cans periodically, including a single-hop hoppy Pilsner that will be a semi-regular offering. We will also brew an annual Imperial Stout. We plan on hosting release parties that will include sales of the stainless version of the imperial stout and barrel aged variants, as well as a killer guest tap list of stouts from some of our friends. The imperial stout will age for a minimum of one year in spirit barrels.”
The tasting room at the Veil is in the same space as the 11,000 square foot brewery building, and will feature bar seating, tables, and plenty of standing room for thirsty patrons for the busy days ahead. The room has several new garage doors that can be opened during good weather. “We also plan to put in some tables outside for patio seating,” Tarpey said as we toured the space.
The tasting room itself has a long concrete bar, and its own walk in cooler for kegs destined for on-site tapping. There is another cooler inside the brewery which will be used for storage and distribution.
Look for a lot of special touches and artwork inside the brewery’s tasting room.
Don’t expect to find any of the coolship beers for sale outside the brewery once the first vintages are ready in a few years. “The spontaneous fermentation beers will only make up about 7 to 10 percent of our overall production, and I anticipate that we will do special releases here when we are ready to offer them, so they will likely only be offered for sale to go and to drink on site at the brewery,” Tarpey commented.
The Veil has a parking lot that can be roped off to allow up to three food trucks to be parked on site at a time. Look out for the much-loved ZZQ barbecue truck to be a frequent visitor. ZZQ is building a brick and mortar location in Scott’s Addition, as its food truck business had been so good.
Tarpey tentatively plans to officially open to the public sometime in April. See theveilbrewing.com.