Photo courtesy of Final Gravity Brewing Co.
Final Gravity's Irish Goodbye Stout (not to be confused with an Irish stout) is made from Virginia-grown-and-malted barley, and is just one of many beers available on draft at the new brewery.
If you brew beer in Richmond, you know Tony Ammendolia. Ammendolia opened home brewing store Original Gravity in November of 2011, after home brewing for 20 years, himself. Now his latest venture, one of Richmond’s smallest breweries, is finally here. Final Gravity Brewing Co. opened inside of the newly relocated Original Gravity, just three doors down from the original shop's O.G. location in Lakeside Towne Center. A nanobrewery housed inside a retail concept has its perks: Final Gravity is using all home brewing equipment available for purchase — the ultimate try-before-you-buy situation. His brewery and store name originate from the brewing process: Original gravity (OG) measures how much sugar is in the wort before fermentation, whereas final gravity (FG) is how much sugar remains after fermentation.
The new brewery sells flights, 12-ounce pours, and growler fills of Ammendolia's small-batch brews. In addition to indoor seating, the brewery also offers outdoor seating and is pet-friendly. A bakery is slated to open in the old Original Gravity location (which is the worst, because no one likes beer and baked goods, right?).
Ammendolia was kind enough to answer a few questions about his new venture, in between beers, obviously.
Richmond magazine: From home brewing to commercial brewing: not a small step and definitely a goal for home brewers. How did it feel to make it reality?
Tony Ammendolia: I started home brewing in 1993 and like most people who take up the hobby, I was only a few batches in when I started dreaming of opening my own brewery. The problem was, opening a production brewery requires a lot of capital which I didn't have access to so I kind of tucked that dream away for awhile and started down a career path managing natural foods stores like Ellwood Thompson's and Whole Foods. In 2011, I decided it was time for a change and although I wanted to open a brewery then, capital was still an issue for opening a brewery with a large production capacity, so I did the next best thing: I opened a home brew shop! Right around that time Virginia passed SB 604, which allowed breweries to operate tasting rooms without having to also be restaurants, and for me that was a game changer. I could open a considerably smaller brewery and sell directly to my customers. All of a sudden it was possible to start a financially viable brewery on a much smaller scale, so I got the idea to move a few doors down to a larger location and open a brewery that shared a location with my existing home brew shop. We started pouring beers [last Thursday, Aug. 27] and response has been really good. It's an amazing feeling to have finally achieved the dream. It's been a long time coming.
RM: Tell us about your setup. What system are you using and why did you decide to go with that particular one? How much do you think you will produce?
TA: We are brewing on a system that is capable of producing two barrels per batch. [One barrel equals 31 gallons.] It consists of 100-gallon kettles and 80-gallon fermenters made by Blichmann Engineering. Blichmann makes top-of-the-line equipment for home brewers and we are an official dealer, so it made sense to go with them. Everything we use in our brewery is home brew equipment. We just got the largest size they make; we even keg in the same soda kegs that we sell to our customers. So we produce about 65 gallons per batch and our goal is to have at least six beers on tap at all times. Right now, we have nine beers on tap.
RM: What are you brewing? What can we expect in the future?
We are currently offering two versions of our IPA, a double IPA, a saison, a violet saison, an ESB (extra special bitter), an American amber, a stout made with Virginia-grown-and-malted barley from Wood's Mill Malt House, and a barrel-aged version of that stout aged in whiskey barrels from Reservoir Distillery.
Final Gravity is located at 6118 Lakeside Ave. in Lakeside Towne Center, and is open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is closed on Monday.