The former head brewer of Maine Beer Co. and co-founder of Reason Beer. A founder of The Wine Guild whose home brews have their own following. The architect behind some of Charlottesville’s most beautiful restaurants. A veteran chef who has cooked at top spots in town. And the partners who run Charlottesville’s most prolific restaurant group.
What brings this all-star team together? A brewpub.
Opening in July, Högwaller Brewing is what restaurateur Will Richey calls a “group passion project.” Richey, Ten Course Hospitality partner Jonathan Corey, and a group of industry friends found that they all wanted to create the same type of place: a neighborhood brewpub offering little more than somewhere to hang with friends, drink great beer and enjoy good, simple food. “Nothing big,” said Richey. “A team effort for a low scale, laid back, neighborhood brewpub.”
For the beer, Richey scored: Mark Fulton, co-founder of the now-closed Reason Beer, and former head brewer of Maine Beer Co., one of Beer Advocate’s top rated breweries in the country. For a brewer with Fulton’s pedigree, a nanobrewery as small as Högwaller is like a dream come true. Free of the constraints of large-scale production, Fulton is thrilled by the freedom. “This is substantially smaller than anything I have worked on professionally,” said Fulton, “which is really exciting.” The modest scale enables versatility and experimentation.
In fact, Fulton will devote a full two thirds of the brewpub’s twelve draught lines to rotating beers and experiments, with the other four slots offering reliable, easy-drinking staples: a light lager, pale ale, IPA, and dry stout. Fulton looks forward to using the freedom for collaboration and community engagement, as he relishes the chance to work local brewing friends. He also plans projects like following the seasonality of German lagers, one of Fulton’s favorite styles. Maibocks in the spring, Helles lager in the summer, Marzen in the fall.
There will be Belgian style beers, too, thanks in part to partner Evan Williams, co-founder of The Wine Guild, who has earned a reputation for his brewing hobby. “An exceptional home brewer,” said Fulton. No small praise given Fulton’s palate.
Evan’s wife Stephanie, the architect behind restaurants like Prime 109, Lampo, and Cafe Frank, has helped transform the former home of The Pie Chest into the pub the team was imagining. Richey says the brewery will take full advantage of its riverside location on High Street, collaborating with the Rivanna River Company and the Front Porch for events and music, and offering river floaters a place to fuel up or wind down.
Last but not least, the food. Chef Tres Pittard has become such a trusted part of Richey’s projects over the years that he now co-owns Revolutionary Soup with Richey. At Högwaller, Pittard plans to stick with the brewpub’s theme: keep it simple. Timbercreek grass-fed burgers and Högwaller barbecue will make up much of the menu, plus vegetarian options inspired by the two people who brought Richey and Fulton together. Richey’s daughter is close friends with Fulton’s, and it was their friendship that led Richey to contact Fulton about a brewery. Fulton’s daughter Hazel is vegetarian, and so The Hazel is a burger from Beyond meat, while Richey’s daughter’s favorite food is grilled cheese, and so The Marie is a grilled cheese on a burger bun with lots of butter.
Högwaller will open in late July 2023 at 1518 E. High Street. The brewery’s own beers won’t be quite ready by then, and so, initially, they will serve a selection of favorites from other breweries and friends. Follow along the brewery’s Instagram feed for updates.
“We’re going to keep it real simple and look forward to seeing folks when they come in,” said Richey.