Hold The Gluten

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Hold The Gluten

A man comes into a bar. Describes his favorite beer styles. Bar server chooses a beer for man and pours him a gluten-free Belgian White Ale, but doesn't mention the no gluten part. Man enjoys beer and asks what it is. Server tells him. "Really?!" he replies, both surprised and satisfied.

The brewing industry is opening up to gluten-free brewing and this is allowing those with gluten intolerance or Celiac's Disease to enjoy great beers. This micro-section of beer is evolving quickly, and some brews are so delicious they have earned favor among mainstream beer drinkers. Here at Ardent, we are proud to be part of this effort and every month at our open brew days (last Sunday of every month), we brew small batches of experimental brews, many of them gluten-free. Manager Lincoln Smith heads up this work and every few months at our Pilot Nights, we put the newest beers on tap and open up the bar to feedback and discussion, just like our early co-op brewing days in the garage.

Rather than make gluten reduced beers, where an enzyme is added to a regular batch of beer, Lincoln focuses on brewing with gluten-free grains and alternate sources of fermentable sugar sources, like chestnuts, molasses, and figs. The idea is to make a beer that someone with any level of gluten intolerance can enjoy without having a negative reaction. This month we are featuring some of the most exciting and wide-ranging gluten-free beers to date:

  • 1 / Session IPA (3.8% ABV). Made with Azacca Hops, which gives this beer a grassy, piney, and stone fruit aroma and flavor.
  • 2 / Pumpernickel Porter. Lincoln adjusted his original recipe to make it gluten-free by brewing a Baltic Porter, then lagered it and dosing it with Pumpernickel tea in the fermenter. This beer required research on classic Pumpernickel and Russian Black Bread recipes, and the whole crew is looking forward to trying it.
  • 3 / Belgian White Ale. This is one of Lincoln's first gluten-free beers and he has refined this version through additional research. He malted his own quinoa, and used grains from a certified gluten-free maltster in Colorado (mostly millet, buckwheat and oats), which could lead to more collaborations in the future. 

Why our focus on gluten-free? The core inspiration came from Lincoln's son Milo, who has Celiac's Disease. His family is devoted to gluten-free cooking and this extends all the way into Milo's future eating and drinking. "I would like my son to be able to enjoy a good beer when he is old enough," says Lincoln. "He is six now, so I have plenty of time to perfect this." Second, it is the feedback and encouragement from out guests with low gluten tolerance or Celiac's - who have been unable to drink beer - that have enjoyed our brews with no adverse reactions. And finally, it is even the smile from an unassuming customer who loved that gluten-free Belgian White Ale.  

Join us for our sixth Pilot Night Friday, July 8 to try these new brews!

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Crafting A Beer: Lincoln's Rye Kolsch

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Crafting A Beer: Lincoln's Rye Kolsch

New year, new beer. To start off 2016, we are proud to introduce a beer nearly 15 years in the making. Conceived and created by our own taproom manager and longtime friend of Ardent Lincoln Smith, our Rye Kolsch is not only a unique beer, but is a true craft brew from start to finish. It’s a story that has a familiar course: you have an interest in a certain style of beer, you dig deeper into its roots and history, and maybe you try a few recipes and experiment in home brewing. Then you perfect it. For Lincoln he has watched his beer grow from a modest 12 gallons in Ardent’s original Church Hill garage to 900 gallons being released in our taproom today.

The beginning was in 2001 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Lincoln was working as a brewer’s apprentice in a brewpub where tried his first kolsch made on-site. It was clean, crisp, drinkable. There was a slight tartness - an acidity that played with the high carbonation - and a balance of almost hidden breadiness. He loved it. He tried kolsches everywhere he could find them. Not long after, there was a surge of experimentation with rye in the brewing world. Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale was one of the first styles he tasted and, to him, the spiciness of the rye in a quaffable kolsch-style beer made perfect sense. It stuck with him.

He told his friend Tom Sullivan about his Rye Kolsch recipe. ‘Let’s brew it!’ Tom said. It was the early days of Ardent, and Lincoln’s beer.

Several years later, Lincoln enrolled in Siebel Institute in Chicago to hone his brewing skills. Under the guidance of his professor and mentor Ray Daniels, he returned home with a head full of ideas and wrote down a handful of beer recipes right away. His Rye Kolsch was the first one.

A recipe and a home brewer. What now? It was 2008 and Lincoln met a few guys who were running a little brewing co-op in the Church Hill neighborhood. They’d talk beer and knew he was passionate about brewing. They welcomed him to come by and check out the garage. He told his friend Tom Sullivan about his Rye Kolsch recipe. “Let’s brew it!” Tom said. They brewed it several times and got it just right. This was the early days of Ardent, and Lincoln’s beer.

Lincoln has been with us since our brewery’s opening days in 2014 and we always knew we’d brew his beer. We couldn’t be more thrilled to stretch it to this scale and pour it into the glasses of our supporters and guests. The whole team worked together to make this beer perfect, just like the one brewed years ago in our little co-op. This style heralds from Cologne, Germany and is brewed with ale yeast then is lagered in the fermenter for five or six weeks. Lincoln was the first to try the finished product out of the tank. A big smile and a thumbs up.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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One Year Down. Thank You #RVA

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One Year Down. Thank You #RVA

What a day. On Saturday, June 13, our team here at Ardent was tasked to execute our largest event to date in celebration of our first anniversary. But there were so many welcome distractions, it was easy to forget the pressure of such a large endeavor. Hundreds and hundreds of friends, brewers, longtime supporters, new fans, and even first-time visitors came out to mark the day with us and celebrate over a beer. What was set up to be a long day at work, ended up feeling more like a gathering of our favorite folks under one roof (or hot afternoon, if you were outside). 

It took every bit of support, visits to our taproom, beers order around Richmond, and the work of our staff to help us arrive at this Anniversary Party, exactly one year since we opened our doors to the public. Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it. So, cheers. A big cheers. We can only promise to keep working to brew beer we believe in and making your Ardent experience a great one.

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A Brewery Dinner

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A Brewery Dinner

A big thank you to all who came out for our first beer dinner in collaboration with Southbound! It was a perfect night, an incredible meal, and a great crowd. Cheers to many more! Special thanks to Mike Lee for capturing the evening.

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Swine & Brine 2015: Recap & Photos

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Swine & Brine 2015: Recap & Photos

A big, big thank you to all of the supporters, guests, amazing volunteers, and partners who made our first outdoor festival at Ardent possible. Friday, April 10 forecasted dicey weather but after a few sprinkles, the sun and rainbows came out and our Swine & Brine party continued into the evening. From our vantage point, everyone had a great time and enjoyed the incredible food from The Roosevelt, Metzger Bar & Butchery, Saison, ZZQ, and Rappahannock Oyster Company. All the chefs cooked theirtails off for this event and deserve an extra thank you! We proudly offered 15 Ardent beers at Swine & Brine including our new IPA Batch #11 and four special casks just for the day. All in all, we enjoyed every minute of it and can't wait for a bigger and badder Swine & Brine next year!

All Photos by Mike Lee

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Jane's Persimmon Beer, 300 Years Later

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Jane's Persimmon Beer, 300 Years Later

What a night. No one said it better than Virginia Historical Society President Paul Levengood: "we reached back in time." Ardent's collaboration with VHS first began several months ago and culminated this Tuesday night with an evening to taste and learn about one very old beer that was written down by Jane, a young girl who lived on a local farm in the 18th century. If Jane only knew how her family's beer recipe would be revived and celebrated right here in 2014.

All of us at Ardent have been thrilled, and admittedly surprised, but the enthusiastic response from the local community and beyond. We've fielded all kinds of requests including one person asking to ship a keg of the persimmon beer to San Diego. What started as a modest experiment in historical beers appears to have sparked more than just our own interest in the region's beer heritage. 

When we set out to make the Persimmon beer, we harvested as many Native American persimmons as we could find, traveling as far as Afton, Virginia to pick from trees. We collected about 17 pounds of persimmons which yielded about three gallons of beer. The final product - a wine-like, low alcohol beer intended for daily consumption - served as the centerpiece of Tuesday's "History On Tap." gathering. 

Due to the limited quantity of the persimmon beer, we were welcomed about 70-80 people for a tasting and discussion featuring Richmond's resident beer and history expert, Lee Graves. Never had the taproom felt more alive and full of an excited history-and-beer-loving crowd. Thanks to the creativity and generosity of the Virginia Historical Society, we were able to share this unusual beer and its story, and we couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity. 

According to Levengood, thousands of beer recipes exist in their archives. There's no question about the local interest in historical beers and we look forward to future collaborations with VHS. Finally, another big thank you to all who showed interest in the project and those who came out Tuesday in support of Virginia Historical Society's important work. 

Read Richmond.com's summary of the event here

All photos by Mike Lee.

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#rvabeerweek

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#rvabeerweek

It's coming. RVA Beer Week is great reason to celebrate locally made beer, and to be sure, this is a year Richmond should be proud of. No one spelled it out better than Lee Graves in his article in this week's Richmond Times-Dispatch where he pointed out all the great new local beer and events. After being happy spectators for many years, we're excited to now be part of #rvacraftbeer week. Let the hashtagging begin.

This year, we'll be hosting a few of our own celebrations. Beginning Wednesday, November 5 at 4 p.m., we'll raise a glass one last time to our summer seasonal, the Honey Ginger, who some could argue has already overstayed its season. Tonight will mark the Honey Ginger's last stand until next summer, and for the occasion, we'll open up pins of different versions including one spiked with extra ginger and others aged in different whiskey barrels. Free to join this bittersweet farewell. 

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Then, on Saturday, November 8 starting at Noon sharp, it's all IPA, all day. We've accumulated quite a collection of our different IPA batches and squirreled a few away for just this reason. We'll pour no less than five different kinds of IPA until 10 p.m. (or until we run out) including our versions brewed with Mosaic & Citra, Belma, Crosby Hops Farm, and Falconer's Flight hops. This event is also free with tasters and full pours available all day.

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We also might have some midweek surprises in store, so keep listening on Twitter and Facebook. Come see us or get out and support your favorite local brewery during RVA Beer Week!

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Fifty Percent More

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Fifty Percent More

There's nothing like the thrill of seeing brand new, shiny tanks roll into your brewery. It was pretty surreal the first time, and the second time was just as awesome. Two new 30 bbl tanks and a 60 bbl bright tank were delivered to us this week, and they are now upright, in place, and waiting to be fully installed. By the beginning of November, we plan to move beer from these tanks into kegs. 

All in all, our new tanks give us 50 percent more capacity. More brewing. More beer. All that good stuff! But what it really means it we're able to expand, just a little bit, and at the pace that feels right to us. It means we can offer our beer to a few more restaurants, bars and businesses around town, participate in more local events, and make sure there's always enough to go around. And, most importantly, it means we will be able to brew more styles. 

Next time you come by, peek inside and take a look. There's a whole lot more stainless steel!

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Thank You Richmond.

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Thank You Richmond.

What a weekend. To the Richmond beer community: we can't thank you enough. Our opening days were a long time coming and you made them unforgettable. After two days of dry runs with family and friends, last Friday, we opened our doors and welcomed so many supportive locals who had been following us for years or just dropping by to check Ardent out for the first time. It was a celebratory night, right down to the cheers when we flipped the switch on our canopy of patio lights.

We appreciate your patience as we worked through crowds and beer tickets over the weekend. Thanks to you, we have our feet under us and look forward to welcoming many again in the coming weeks. Ahead are new beer releases, events, growler fills, tasting flights and the introduction of a small menu of bar snacks. Stay tuned. Sign up up for our mailing list to keep up with it all. But more importantly, know that we are grateful for a great opening weekend and the support you've shown us... and so many brewers in Richmond.

We thank friend and talented photographer Michael Lee for the shots from Friday.

All photos courtesy Michael Lee

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Keg Time

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Keg Time

For a couple weeks, our stacks of shiny new kegs sat quietly in the brewery. No stickers, labels, scratches, dings or dents on them. Just wrapped neatly in sheets of plastic. Those days are long gone. Over this past weekend, foregoing the usual Memorial Day festivities, we camped out at the brewery to move our first batches of beer into the kegs.

First, the entire team pitched in to ready the kegs. We chose to stencil the words "Ardent" on each keg, which turned out bright, durable, and, well, just the right price. Kevin led the transfer operations, making certain every tube and hook-up from tank to keg was perfect. The Saison went first, then the IPA and Honey Ginger. As expected, this first run presented us with opportunities to learn and make adjustments to our process. Sure, we are all a bit sleep-deprived, but nevermind that. Seeing those kegs filled was nothing short of invigorating. 

Some of the Saison is headed to Broad Appetit this Sunday. We hope to see you out there supporting great local food and beer.

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