E-Malt.com News article: USA, VA: Hidden Wit Brewing Co. plans to break ground in Moseley in July
About a quarter-mile west of the Skinquarter Farm Market on Hull Street Road in Moseley, tucked away in the trees down a bumpy gravel driveway, four local business owners have joined forces to create Chesterfield’s first rural craft brewery far off the beaten path, the Chesterfield Observer reported on May 8.
“Most of us are country bumpkins at heart,” jokes Kim Taylor, one of the co-founders of Hidden Wit Brewing Co. “For us, this is a really restful environment. We want to share that with others in Chesterfield.”
In early March, Taylor and her husband, Butch, owners of two Titan Auto and Tire shops in the county, acquired the partially timbered 10.2-acre property on which they plan to build a new brewery, complete with tasting room and restaurant, with their partners Brad Cooper and Chad Ritter.
They intend to grow hops and other plants on site, such as melon and cucumbers, which will be used in brewing. It will be a family- and dog-friendly venue, buffered by trees from the busy four-lane highway, with outdoor space for people to sit and talk while they enjoy a meal and a beer.
The plan is to break ground in July and be up and running by spring 2020 – an admittedly ambitious timetable, but one they’re confident they can meet.
“Doing something new can be very invigorating,” Butch Taylor said. “It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking because we know we have to put out a top-quality product, but it’s also reassuring with the team we have.” The Taylors first met Cooper at an event hosted by the Chesterfield Chamber about four years ago, when he was gearing up to open his first craft brewery, Steam Bell Beer Works, in an industrial park off Genito Road.
They considered investing in Steam Bell, which has been enormously popular since its 2016 opening, but couldn’t make it work at that time. Still, Cooper was the first person they thought of when they began exploring a brewery of their own last year.
“They called me and said they wanted to open a brewery in Chesterfield, and they wanted to make sure I was OK with it,” Cooper recalled. “I said absolutely, it’s important to do as much as we can to build a craft beer culture in the county.”
Cooper initially envisioned his role as being an informal adviser – he’s busy enough running Steam Bell and a second brewery, Canon & Draw, in Richmond’s Fan District – but eventually decided to come on as a partner.
“Being able to consult with Brad and ask him questions has been huge,” said Ritter, who will serve as Hidden Wit’s head brewer.
Ritter, a past president of the James River Home Brewers Association, got to know Butch Taylor through weekly Business Networking International meetings in Chester.
Ritter was running a lawn care business at the time and brewed craft beer on the side. He brewed a batch of stout for the BNI group’s 2017 Christmas party and Taylor was impressed.
“I was like, ‘Man, this is really good beer. Are you sure you brewed this?’” Taylor said with a laugh.
“It’s funny, one day we’re hanging around as fellow business owners, then it’s, ‘Hey, let’s open a brewery together,’” Ritter said. “That brought us here.”
“Here” is on the western edge of Chesterfield, a few miles from the Amelia County line. Though the Taylors initially considered leasing an existing retail space, only to find the terms prohibitive, they couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.
“This end of the county is such an underserved area as far as retail, restaurants, activities and gathering places. There’s just not a lot to do. There are thousands of residents out here who would love to be close to something,” Kim Taylor said.
“It’s an escape from suburbia,” Cooper added. “We want to make this a destination location.”
The name “Hidden Wit,” which resulted from a long branding process, is a nod to that notion. It reflects the new company’s vision to create an oasis for making new memories with family and friends. “Wit” is both a play on the word “witty” and “witbier,” a Belgian-style ale.
Last Friday morning, the four co-owners walked the property with L. Kipkoriony Rutto, an associate professor in Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture, and discussed the challenges of growing hops in the humid climate of Central Virginia.
Nearby, Paula McCapes, a public relations and marketing specialist for VSU, noted the university’s agriculture program works with many small Virginia farmers (those who own 300 acres or less).
“This is exactly what we’re looking for, someone who is just starting out, a small operation, Virginia-oriented,” she added. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
12 May, 2019