If you’ve been into beer and follow along with any beer-related media outlets, you have most assuredly heard of Mekong. The Vietnamese food spot, opened in Richmond, Virginia in 1995 by founder An Bui, has garnered acclaim from numerous publications, perhaps most notably winning the title of Craftbeer.com’s Great American Beer Bar back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013.
And if you’ve been into beer, then you have also most assuredly heard of An’s own brewing operation, The Answer Brewpub, located directly next door to Mekong. Leveraging the success of Mekong and his reputation for being one of the most knowledgable—and genuinely one of the absolute nicest—people in the beer community, An opened The Answer in fall of 2014. I had certainly heard of it, and it was definitively my first destination when I arrived in Richmond.
Visiting the Answer is a hell of an experience, and that experience is only heightened and elevated by the presence of An there, himself. Embodying, personifying everything about the spot, his generous, gregarious demeanor is contagious. You can’t help but have a truly awesome time there.
The system is a small one, but it’s a clean operation. Tanks and equipment named after Star Wars characters and references, it is a bright, saturated, colorful brewery. The beers are just as colorful too. Hazy New England-Style IPAs and DIPAs. Playful beers, fruited Goses and Berliner Weisses. Bold beers, huge Imperial Stouts and Barleywines. And that doesn’t even take into account the incredible line-up of guest beers on tap, it’s a veritable playhouse of great beer on draft.
Tasting through a few beers and walking around the brewhouse with An and their brewer, Clay, was a terrific experience, outright in and of itself. But then they asked me if I wanted to go drink some beers up on the roof, in the fading sunshine on a perfect summer evening in Richmond. An laughed deeply as the idea was suggested, as if I might not be into it… Of course, they should have already known The Answer.