It took four years of planning and work, but a revival of the iconic Richbrau name is now a reality.
Craft beer maker Richbrau Brewing Co. is scheduled to open its taproom to the public on July 4.
Located in a former foundry and auto shop at 5 S. 20th St. in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, the brewery will sell its beers on tap and in cans.
Richbrau’s first few beers have curious names such as Psychic Horse, King of Strays and Edgar Imperial Stout.
All of the beers are styled as an homage to odd bits of Richmond history and lore. Each can has an illustration with an associated story.
“They may not be the most historically significant stories, but we tried to pick the most intriguing stories of Richmond, like campfire-type stories,” said Matthew Mullett, a partner in the venture with Hank Schmidt III and Brian McCauley.
A hoppy India Pale Ale brewed at Richbrau is named Psychic Horse as a tribute to Lady Wonder, a mare that lived in South Richmond from 1924 to 1957. Trained by her owners to tap letters on alphabet blocks, Lady Wonder gained fame for her seemingly psychic prognostications and talent for accurately answering questions posed by visitors.
A sour ale called King of Strays is a salute to Black Dog, an elusive scruffy black canine that roamed Richmond’s West End for more than 10 years winning numerous local fans. The dog was found dead in 2009.
Edgar Imperial Stout is a shout out to Edgar Allan Poe’s 1838 novel “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket,” a tale of shipwreck and cannibalism.
“When people visit and grab a four-pack, they are going to take these stories with them,” Mullett said, adding that the brewery is planning other beers that celebrate aspects of Richmond history.
The Richbrau brand name had its first life as a beer that was made in Richmond by Home Brewing Co. from 1933 until 1969, when the brewery at Clay and Harrison streets closed. The name was resurrected as a brewpub that operated in Shockoe Slip from 1993 to 2010 before closing.
The new venture is not associated with the previous two.
Mullett, a real estate broker and former distribution manager for MillerCoors, hatched the idea of reviving the name in 2015. He obtained the legal rights to the Richbrau brand and trademark in 2016, and then set about raising money to open the craft brewery.
The renovated space was designed by architecture firm ENV. The tasting room is equipped with computer tablets that enable customers to give feedback on the beers.
Schmidt, the operations manager, previously worked for Flying Bison Brewing Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. McCauley, the head brewer, is a Portsmouth native who lives in Henrico County.
Richbrau’s tasting room is scheduled to be open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 2 p.m. to midnight on Fridays; noon to midnight on Saturdays, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Richbrau is closed Tuesdays.