I’ve had the opportunity to visit my fair share of breweries and taprooms and I always catch a special buzz of excitement about visiting one that is new for me. Visiting The Veil Brewing Company—with the storied history behind its head brewer, Matt Tarpey, and with its vaunted rise to becoming one of the most popular breweries amongst the “new-school” crowd—proved no exception.
It wasn’t simply an adrenaline high that I caught from the two-and-a-half mile trek from the hotel down Broad Street through Richmond, Virginia in (to me) the stifling humidity on a sunny Thursday afternoon. As I stepped inside the outdoor space at The Veil, and then into the taproom itself, I was genuinely excited to be there, excited to see what all this buzz, all the hullabaloo, was actually about about.
Plus, I was really looking forward to a having beer. A nine hour travel day and then a two-and-a-half mile urban hike in humidity will tend to make me thirsty… Luckily, The Veil had some beer. And, it was cold.
I stepped up to the bartop and ordered a beer (their hoppy Pilsner, named Child Support) and was struck by a series of dichotomies that subtly availed themselves (no pun intended). The Veil is old world but new school. It feels as though the brewery has been in this spot in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood of Richmond for decades, but you know all along, standing there, that there is no way in hell it could ever be that old.
Inside The Veil, it is a loud space, but there is something serene about being there. There might be a hundred people behind you, either waiting on line or sharing a beer and conversation. But, as you step up to the counter to order your beer, and you catch your appearance in the reflective glass back-splash behind the bar, suddenly you are there by yourself, all alone in the space, with just the beer that that you ordered being slid toward your waiting hands.
The interior design is somewhat stark and rigid, almost cold, but it feels comforting and cozy—like stepping back into the living room of an old relative, like you’ve been there before. Like you already know what’s waiting around that corner of taproom. Like you can’t quite see where you are going, but then you reach out and your hand instinctively finds the light switch.
It’s a dark space in some sense, with taxidermy animals of all sorts surrounding you, and with the staff wearing black jeans and black shirts, the de facto uniform it seems. But the space is lit, there’s an incredible amount of natural light pouring into the building from all sides and a huge sign glows over the bar, “The Veil Brewing Company,” in all its shiny, exciting glory.
The beers are all over the map style-wise. There was that Pilsner that I ordered, an IPA, a DIPA, a DIPA, a DIPA, and then a series of fruited “Tastee” beers, some mixed-ferm stuff, too. A breadth of brewing, something for just about all, for the beer geek and the novice, alike.
Perhaps, in my romantic view, The Veil is indicative of the city of Richmond itself. There is a lot to the place, it might seems simple but it’s intricately complex in nature. Different angles to explore, different sides to consider. And, at the end of it all, it’s wholly exciting to visit.