There’s no beer percolating at Vasen Brewing yet, but a dominant motif is coming into focus at Scott’s Addition’s soon-to-be newest brewery.
On a visit last week, artist Emily Herr‘s half-finished caribou head adorned one wall of the tasting room. And in the middle, a boulder-like structure surrounded the base of a steel beam. The beam itself was wrapped to make it look like a tree. There are places to sit on the faux boulder, rest a beer, maybe even climb it (though maybe not after a high-ABV beer).
“We’re not sure how people are going to interact with that,” said Nathan Winters, Vasen’s marketing and environmental director. “We’re going to have chalk bags and pitons hanging off of it.”
Winters, a Chattanooga native, came from outdoor retailer Patagonia, and he and brewery founders Tony Giordano and Joey Darragh, have been working on making Vasen a reality for over two years. The place is big — it takes up over 17,000 square feet of space in the Hand Craft Building — and there’s still much construction work to be done, but the team hopes to be serving beers to the public by late July.
In the meantime, the team is trying to build a brand around a love for, and Richmond’s love of, the outdoors. Darragh is a climber; Giordano a trail runner; and Winters enjoys hiking and mountain biking, but none is native to Richmond, and Winters said they quickly found out what a great place RVA is for nature-based pursuits when they moved here over two years ago.
“The more people we ran into, the more we realized this was a huge part of the identity (here),” Winters said. “I was surprised other breweries hadn’t tapped into that culture.”
To that end, Vasen is engaging prominent local outdoors types as brand ambassadors. It also hopes to start an outdoors-focused podcast, though planning is in the early stages. Different animals will be featured prominently on all its beer can art, and it’s partnering with 1% for the Planet to give back to a Richmond-based nature-focused charity.
“The outdoors has always provided us with better versions of ourselves,” Winters added.
Some would argue beer does the same. Vasen is betting it makes sense to join the two.