A beer bar is a wondrous thing, and the right kind hits high notes without effort: accessibility without pretension, knowledgeable staff without snootiness and an air of local, most likely supplemented by a resident barfly or two.
Photo illustration by Steve Hedberg
The Cask Café
206 S. Robinson St., 355-2402
It may be Richmond’s equivalent of Cheers: Head in once, and the staff will probably remember your name. State a preference, and the little Fan spot can aim you in the right direction with its ever-changing list of thoughtful selections: From Belgian, German, Czech or English pours to a brew from North Carolina or RVA, you’ll find something light, something dark or even a Basque cider, all ranging from the familiar to the foreign.
6004 W. Broad St., 288-8929
Vietnamese restaurant by day, big beer bar by night, Mekong has effortlessly become the go-to suds hub in Richmond with more than 50 on tap and even more available in bottles. An Bui, its always affable proprietor, keeps easy-drinking brews on tap while seamlessly pairing hard-to-find seasonals and tough gets in a mind-blowing manner. Bui is the largest pourer of Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes’ Bon-Chien, a sour ale, in the states, and is so beloved that he was invited to create his own blend at the beer’s Swiss brewery.
825 W. Cary St., 649-1042
Often billed — and perhaps underestimated — as a collegiate hang, this VCU-adjacent restaurant has one of the better beer lists in town. Sixteen frequently rotating taps offer variety while package placement (yep, you can buy bottles here) is A-plus; sizable selection (recently offered: Tweak, a stout by Avery Brewing Co., by the bottle) with a little art and affordability thrown in for good measure.
205 N. Shields Ave., 355-2282
Is your preference something for everyone, a place that’s easy on the wallet and home to the occasional blow-out-event tap takeover? Then Joe’s is your jam. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has an annual multi-tap takeover in the fall that typically features a vertical (multiple years) of the coveted Gingerbread Stout and other variants, if you need just one reason to hit up this well-stocked watering hole.