To those outside the greater Richmond region, it may be known for its entertaining name. But for RVAers, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery is known for its elite beer. That’s because LCCB, headquartered 40 minutes outside Richmond in Goochland County, continues to distinguish itself as one of the country’s premier farm breweries.
At a time when most breweries are looking to open chic urban taprooms, LCCB’s Goochland location and farmy vibe can feel like a throwback to an earlier era. The brewery further differentiates itself in the crowded craft beer marketplace by selling many of its brews in the larger format 750ml bottles, rather than just cans. But it’s this uniqueness that has garnered the brewery a large cult following among local Goochlanders as well as weekend visitors from Charlottesville and Richmond.
Starting in 2013, LCCB became Virginia’s first farm brewery. Co-founder Lisa Pumphrey, who lived in Montana in the 1990s, had a front-row seat to the early West Coast craft beer explosion. After moving back to Virginia, she inherited just over 200 acres near Goochland. Rather than developing it, Pumphrey wanted to find a creative way to make it sustainable and profitable. The idea of a farm brewery was born.
After undergoing a soil reclamation process — using hemp plants — LCCB started growing crops, including wheat, barley, rye, hops, blueberries, and even honey bees. Many of these ingredients still make their way into LCCB’s beer, creating a type of distinctive terroir more often associated with wine. “We wanted to create an agricultural business location to showcase American agriculture,” Pumphrey says.
The road to success was far from smooth early on. Goochland County officials tried to require LCCB to build an expensive paved parking lot and severely limited the number of visitors who could be on the property at any one time. Recognizing that a robust tasting room was vital for an upstart craft brewery, Pumphrey helped usher farm brewery legislation through the Virginia legislature in 2014.
After some additional wrangling with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, LCCB was finally granted the flexibility it needed to host events and entertain large swaths of customers at its farm. Since then, the brewery has taken off — opening a Shockoe Bottom location last year and announcing a partnership with Bob Marley’s half-brother in Jamaica.
In addition to having a good backstory, LCCB continues to produce some of the best beer in the region. Known for its wide variety of barrel-aged stouts, quads and tripels, LCCB has been racking up awards and acclaim for its array of innovative brews. For instance, its Enlightened Despot Russian Imperial Stout received a 95 out of 100 rating on BeerAdvocate.com, as well as collected two gold medals at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup.
LCCB’s brewers are not afraid to push the envelope, either. Beers such as French Toast Brown Ale and Blueberry Obsession Imperial Stout might cause the average consumer to do a double-take, but after a few sips, one will easily become a convert (and perhaps have found a new favorite beer). Beyond the creative flavors, LCCB’s colorful, playful labels stick out. The label for Redneck High Society, a Belgian-style Quad aged in cognac barrels, features two anthropomorphic deer dressed up and drinking beer, while the colorful illustrations for the brewery’s popular Juicy IPA series are produced by local tattoo artist Charlie Jones.
Like many breweries these days, LCCB always has a rich vein of new releases coming out. It plans to release its tequila barrel-aged Tripel series soon, including Sunrise Tripel, which is conditioned on fresh cherries, limes and oranges. Fun options such as German Chocolate Cake Lager and Carrot Cake Amber Ale are also in the works, as well as the release of Juicy #11, the latest in its excellent line of hazy, New England-style IPAs. LCCB also frequently hosts events, such as a beer pairing with chef Adam Duyle on May 11 at its Shockoe Bottom location (with the proceeds going to Rise Against Hunger).
Now that the spring weather is officially upon us, you owe it to yourself to head out to LCCB’s farm to enjoy a pint — and to pick up a bottle or two to take home. You won’t regret it.