Back to Nature

Using locally-foraged yeast, Tabol Brewing brings fresh, funky flavors to the beer scene.


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North Side claims its first craft brewery with the opening of Tabol Brewing Co. The city’s newest beer-maker might sound more like an Ikea furniture model, but it is far wilder and funkier than the orderly modern lines of contraptions from the Swedish retail giant. And no Allen wrenches are required to enjoy the saisons and wild ales on offer.

The brewery’s name is an intentional misspelling of the Esperanto word for table. There’s a long story and short story with a side commentary about how just about everything in English is trademarked these days.

Richmond wants for no brewery, but Tabol’s entry into a town nearly flooded with craft beer manages to offer something rare and refreshing. They are singularly focused on fermenting wild ales and saisons, whether from lab-cultured yeasts or with cultures collected from back alleyway mulberry trees. Nic Caudle and Travis Dise, the co-founders, say this style of brewing is the most fun and least predictable. They also age everything in wood.

“It’s our favorite style of beer,” says co-founder Travis Dise. “I call it Old-World style beer. Everything’s brewed in wood barrels, and we forage for wild yeast. A lot of breweries play with this stuff on the side, but for us, it’s the main focus.”

Beer lovers should easily find something to wet their whistle, whether a fruitier, tangy brew or a more spicy, floral saison. All of Tabol’s opening brews fall in the 4 to 6 percent alcohol range.

The opening taps include a balanced mix of both sour and earthy beer. If you’re not into the funkier brews, you may want to try Please Advise (6 percent alcohol), a dark ale with a clean, smooth blend of two barrels using different yeast cultures. The Sezono (6 percent alcohol) is crisp and clean and delivers subtle aromatic notes of pepper and meadow.

For the more adventurous imbibers, try the Jiinks, (4.3 percent alcohol), a tart ale made with Tabol’s house wild yeast. It was naturally conditioned in a wine barrel and has a smooth, fascinating taste that for a second makes the beer taste like a distant cousin of wine.

The Stock Blend is also a great example of how this brewery is experimenting with blends to great effect. This inaugural stock blend is on the tart side, but keep your eye on what it serves next and always ask your friendly bartender for the latest tasting notes.

Lovers of the outdoor spaces, take note of the substantial deck. It will be perfect in Richmond’s warmer weather, which nowadays usually comes right after the single-digit lows. The deck area is dog-friendly, and at least one good pup was spotted opening weekend, soaking in the sun and the admiration of day drinkers on an unseasonably warm February day.

Tabol Brewing 704 Dawn St. 303-5528 Thursdays - Fridays 4 - 9 p.m. Saturdays Noon - 9 p.m. Sundays Noon - 6 p.m.