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If Stone arrives, whither an RVA ‘Pirate Trail’?

Andy Thompson

August 7, 2014 1:58pm

There’s been buzz for months about the possibility that California-based Stone Brewing might open an East Coast brewery in Richmond. Earlier this week the Times-Dispatch’s Graham Moomaw reported that Richmond appears to be one of three finalists and that city council was doing what they could to entice the large craft brewer with economic incentives and by readying a parcel of land.

It was that last bit that caught my attention because of the location of the land. As the T-D article put it:

A screen shot of the possible Stone brewery location.

A screen shot of the possible Stone brewery location.

Today, several ordinances will be introduced to grant special-use permits for about 12½ acres bounded by Williamsburg Avenue and Nicholson Street, across from Gillies Creek ParkMost of the land is vacant and owned by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, according to city property records. A small parcel on Nicholson is owned by Titan Virginia Ready Mix, a concrete company.

Now let me first say, we here at RichmondOutside.com are pro brewery, any brewery. And we would love to see Stone in RVA. Have you ever had their RuinTen IPA? It’s absurdly good. But maybe some of you mountain bikers will immediately see the problem with the possible location of the gigantic brewery: It’s right on top of some primo Richmond pirate trail.

What’s a pirate trail? Simply put, it’s singletrack built where it’s not supposed to be. Is it illegal? Often, yes. But, it’s usually cut through abandoned and overgrown parcels sometimes inhabited by hobos and layabouts. Authorities, if they even know it’s there, prefer to look the other way. It’s not hurting anyone, is the logic. And more trail is rarely a bad thing.

Well, I’m not saying I know how this patch of pirate trail got there or who built it, and on the off chance I would be admitting to trespassing, I’m not saying I’ve ever ridden it. I’m just saying it’s there, on both sides of Gillies Creek, and I’ve heard it’s sweet. (And by the way, it’s not the only pirate trail system in Richmond.)

What’s the point of bringing all this up? Stone is a brewery, so I’d venture to guess that the powers that be there are pretty cool. They probably respect mountain bikers and mountain bikers’ near-universal love of beer. Heck, they could very well be mountain bikers themselves. And since it appears that this brewing facility won’t just be a brewery, but a huge restaurant and shop as well, here’s my plea: Save the pirate trails. Maybe they could be incorporated into the wooded outer edges of the facility. Think about it, Stone: Those trails would deliver your target audience to your door day after day.

I don’t know anything about building breweries, and I don’t know if this humble proposal is possible (heck, we still don’t know if Stone will choose Richmond) but I know RVA mountain bikers love singletrack and beer (possibly in reverse order). And I do believe a brewery with mountain bike trails on it would be close to Nirvana.

So, come on out here Stone. Richmond’s mountain bike community can’t wait to ride right up to your front door and be the first at the bar when the taps start flowing.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?