Craft Beer Takeover: Rip Rap Brewing Co.
After a long day, very few things sound as good as a cold beer. Nothing reflects hard work and relaxation in the same space like at Rip Rap Brewing Company, where ‘Liam Bell and Ben Mcelroy opened the doors on April 29. Bell, with a big smile and easygoing attitude, poured beer while talking about the new brewery.
Bell started brewing beer at home three years ago while stationed out of Portsmouth for shore duty with the Coast Guard. With more time on his hands, his hobby of beer brewing grew. “I started with a little turkey fryer at first” Bell said, “Then started making bigger batches and switched to all-grain brewing very quickly. Then I built a kegerator with seven taps.”
Rip Rap Brewing is a small, white building located on 116 E. 25th St. in Norfolk. The glass garage entrance opens up to concrete floors and wooden picnic tables. The three-tier gravity system, located behind the bar, is in full view. Bell said, “[Ben] was real handy. He welded up the tower so we could have our system.” Their brewing system was not the only thing recycled. The partners replaced the refrigeration on a shipping container for their storage room, and the doors and bar top were repurposed from an auction at the old Norfolk courthouse. Even though Rip Rap is down the street from another popular brewery, “[Breweries] tend to do well when close to one another,” Bell said, “ [It’s] a collaborative industry that is supportive, which is kind of cool.”
The craft beer scene in Norfolk has been growing and getting stronger. Rip Rap adds to this scene with a monthly rotating menu with a variety of beers. They offer a range of styles that can appeal to any palate. The Breakwater cream ale is light and easy to drink. The Block and Tackle IPA has the classic hops bitterness with a smooth, refreshing finish. The Rye Not Have Another? Roggenbier is slightly spicy with a light hops flavor. The Park Place porter is dark and gives a distinct roast coffee finish. They offer a flight of 4 beers of your choice, a full glass or even a growler.
When asked about his favorite brew so far, Bell said, “I don’t know about favorite, but the one I am most proud of would be the imperial red ale. It was the most difficult since it’s such a big beer, a little more goes into it.” Indeed, as the strongest beer on the menu, the Keelhaul imperial red ale reflects strong hop bitterness at the beginning, but smooth, sweet malt at the end.
Between pouring beers, Bell checks on the batch brewing in the back. His passion and dedication for craft beer clearly shows. “I like making a lot of different stuff, so we rotate. We don’t have a flagship [beer] per say, but we do a lot of seasonal stuff. So being small gives [us] that flexibility,” Bell explained.
To keep up with events and beer releases follow Rip Rap on Facebook or their website. They are open Thursday and Friday from 5-10 p.m., Saturday 12-10 p.m. and Sunday 1-7 p.m.