An Inside Look at Brewing – Random Row Brewing Co

A brewer at Random Row Brewing Co.

On a recent visit to Random Row Brewing Co. we chatted with Kevin McElroy, Random Row’s owner, and brewer and got an insider look to the mechanics of brewing, and samples their flagship IPA.

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Kevin opened Random Row Brewing Co. in 2016, following his long-time dream of opening a local craft brewery. He created Random Row with three guiding principles in mind – local, accessible, and giving. This means the brewery takes pride in partnering with local businesses, creating a beer-tasting experience everybody can enjoy, and giving back to the community through charity events and other contributions.

You’ll find the taproom on Preston Ave, right across from Bodo’s Bagels and just a block away from Kardinal Hall. Look out for the steep driveway that will take you to plenty of free parking spots in the back of the building. Random Row has a family-friendly, neighborly atmosphere. It has a cozy, tavern-like interior, where you can get a backstage-glimpse of the stainless steel brewing tanks, a spacious outdoor patio, and a novel breezeway beside the building, perfect for private events.

The Selection

Random Row keeps a rotating menu of small-batch craft beers made on-site. They’ll always have a variety of options, from dark, hoppy IPA’s, to dry ales with fruity and floral notes, so everybody can find something to enjoy. Check their current and upcoming beers on tap here.

The Food

Of course, nobody wants to drink on an empty stomach. In the taproom, you can order personal pizzas from Mona Lisa Pasta. Check their Facebook for upcoming deals, like their Pizza-and-Pint specials on Tuesdays.

Random Row also has another ingenious approach to serving food – food trucks! They schedule a rotating selection of food trucks to park outside the taproom. So you can order a fresh brew inside, head outside to get some grub, and perhaps have a picnic on one of the tables out back.  

Recycling Spent Grain

Random Row showed us the nitty-gritty mechanics of beer making. Kevin was in the middle of emptying a mash tun when we visited, so he took the opportunity to teach us about his process.

He explained that the glop he was scraping into a bucket was made up of spent grains, or grains that have been steeped in hot water to extract their sugars and convert their enzymes. The bi-product from this will eventually become alcohol in the beer.

This is a standard process for all brewers, Random Row puts in an extra step. Instead of shipping the spent grains off to a landfill, they work with a local Charlottesville farmer who hauls them off to use as feed for his pigs.

What to Expect in Your Tasting Experience

Ask for Random Row’s flagship Method IPA. It’s a West-Coast-style brew with citrus and pine flavors, and an extra “bite” to it. It is a crisp, cool beverage that can be just right on a blazing summer’s day.

Click here for our complete Guide to Charlottesville breweries.