An Inside Look at Brewing – Random Row Brewing Co

For the next installment in The Charlottesville Guide Vlogs, our correspondent, Tim Mills, visited Random Row Brewing Co. Come along with Tim as he chats with Kevin McElroy, Random Row’s owner, and brewer, gets 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

While all the stops in our brewery tour have been exciting, this is the first time we got to see 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.

Tim’s Tasting Experience

Tim also met with Christoph, another member of Random Row’s staff.

Christoph poured Random Row’s flagship Method IPA. It’s a West-Coast-style brew with citrus and pine flavors, and an extra “bite” to it. Tim was glad for the crisp, cool beverage on that blazing summer’s day.

Planning a visit to Draft Taproom? Head here for location, hours, and contact information.