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Of the Earth

Capsoul Brewing Collective sets sights on 2023 distribution, brewery.


Eric Jackson knew it was time.

He’d hosted myriad gatherings through his social event, beer-focused company, Capsoul Collective since starting the biz in March 2019.

Jackson and co-founder Tyrel Murdaugh launched a podcast, created a magazine, and initiated several innovative brewing collabs, including the 2020 Vasen/Capsoul release, Cohesion.

Named for the “breaking apart of things and bringing them back together,” Cohesion fell right in step with Capsoul’s mission to “diversify taprooms, expand palates and connect dope people together through music, art and fashion.”

The two had had successfully bridged gaps between community members and opened the floor for difficult dialogue, all over a few pints. What else was there to do?

Open a brewery, naturally. Whether Jackson liked it or not.

“It was more than taking the next step, it was recognizing it was there,” says Jackson. “It has always been there, I kept hearing ‘When are you going to do it?’ It took some humbling to accept that.”

The brand Capsoul Collective was put to bed this summer when they released a collaborative beer for the Heart & Soul Festival, a summer wheat ale.

“This felt pretty monumental, to do this collaboration with Hardywood, since we did one of our first collabs with them,” says Jackson. “That would be our last collaboration as a social event company.”

Jackson says the fest is where they really started teasing the rebrand, handing out pamphlets and info cards about Capsoul taking this new, brewery-focused direction.

“Sprout” coming in September

While Jackson—a social media guru who understands one must keep scintillating details close to the chest—didn’t give too much away at Heart & Soul’s event, he did subtly introduce the rebrand with merchandising colorways.

“They are all earth tones,” says Jackson. “Beer is of the earth, the ingredients we use to make beer are of the earth, this capsule—or Capsoul—is putting everything that is important to us, all our passions and pains and joys in one place. That’s what Capsoul Brewing Collective is. We slowly want to move people into what we will be doing.”

That gradual start kicks off Friday, Sept. 2 at Capsoul Brewing Collective’s inaugural event, “Sprout,” a collaborative effort with Rotate RVA.

Rotate owners Brian and Derrick Iwuamadi will open the consignment marketplace starting at noon, with their brand-name sneakers and apparel for sale. Green Vibes RVA will showcase their goods in the store and will host a propagation workshop from 5-6 p.m. The un-ticketed release party kicks off at 7 p.m. with the event’s signature—and company’s debut—beer available for imbibing.

Sprout, an approachable Belgian-inspired Witbier, was created with both the Iwauamadis—it’s what they like to drink themselves—and a wider community in mind. “It’s light, it’s citrusy, it’s palatable,” says Jackson.

The name of the event is based on the name of the Rotate/Capsoul collab beer, yes, but Jackson urges that this is also the word of the moment. It represents a new beginning, an idea finding purchase in fertile ground. “It’s playing around with the idea of the seasonality of life. The rotation of life. Looking at things that come to life in new seasons,” says Jackson.

Jackson has been laying the groundwork for Capsoul Brewing Collective, brick by steady brick, for years—before whispers of “production” “distribution” and “merchandising” ever hit the stratosphere.

Before complementary colorways graced his business plan slideshow, before he assembled a stacked team of brewers, creatives and entrepreneurs, Jackson was drinking beer. Studying it. Ruminating on it. Crafting catchy snippets and longer passages about why this beer—this one, right here—is what you need to be sipping.

Jackson was the GM at Champion Brewery (where he met Murdaugh) and is a certified beer server. He’s worked on marketing campaigns with big name brands like Guinness, Allagash and Angry Orchard. He’s a lager guy at heart, but appreciates a big stout, like the ones Capsoul Brewing Collective brewer Darryl Puller is known for.

“They’re heavy and sweet and barrel-aged, they’ll knock you on your ass,” laughs Jackson.

Selam Hailu, Capsoul Brewing's “grounding force,” chief people officer and also founder of Richmond-based think tank, The Human Connection (THC). - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Selam Hailu, Capsoul Brewing's “grounding force,” chief people officer and also founder of Richmond-based think tank, The Human Connection (THC).

Meet the Team

The Capsoul Brewing Collective team includes Puller as well as Rusty Barrel handling all brewing operations, Murdaugh as COO, CM Bryant as merchandise director, Chris Mattison as marketing specialist, Chris Smart as chief creative officer and Selam Hailu as chief people officer. If anyone understands both the product and the process of opening a brewery, it’s Jackson and his team.

But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

It’s 2022 and there are, according to Paste, more than 40 breweries in Richmond. That’s 30 more than there were in 2010. The term “craft beer boom” feels rather archaic, if not inaccurate. It may be more apt to deem the popularity of craft beer in the River City—and nationally—‘a long-standing trend’ rather than a simple ‘boom.’

According to the Brewers Association, craft brewer volume sales grew 8% in 2021, with retail dollar sales of craft beer increasing 21% to $26.8 billion. Regional craft breweries, taprooms and brewpubs are all on the rise.

Even with the data to support it, some may wonder—do we need another brewery in town? We’ve got The Veil Forest Hill for funky pours and Hardywood for family-friendly fun and Tabol for “we-aren’t-trying-too-hard, here’s a crisper” folks who lean that way. Do we really need more options for a cold, frothy pint?

Maybe not. But Capsoul Brewing Collective is about more than beer. Really. Just ask Hailu, the company’s “grounding force,” chief people officer and founder of Richmond-based think tank, The Human Connection (THC).

“Capsoul’s mission is where craft meets culture, bringing different disciplines and cultures together,” says Hailu. “I’ve been a lover of the brand and the founders for a while.”

Hailu urges that disconnection—an “innovation blind spot”—is the root of unjust events, and through THC, and now Capsoul Brewing, says that she hopes she can instead “build from a space and not have to heal from it.”

The Ethiopian native has a master’s in clinical psychology; understanding the way humans interact is sort of her niche. She will continue to be one of the core drivers of connection at Capsoul Brewing Collective as the company evolves from pop-up to brick-and-mortar brewery and distribution entity.

“Rotate was an obvious partner,” says Hailu. “I’ve known them a while—we want to engage with individuals with passion.” The Rotate team came up with the branding for Sprout and had total creative control for the label, a facet of the project that is critically important to Jackson and team.

“Capsoul Collective has always been a collective of individuals that is able to give people with passion a platform,” says Jackson. “Capsoul is giving people an opportunity to do what they love, without bounds.”

Over the next six months, Capsoul Brewing Collective will continue to host events, like the one at Rotate, and seek out the perfect space for their brewery.

“Our hope is to be a hub in the community that provides not only a safe space for everyone to enjoy great beer, but also to serve as a destination for lovers of the earth, and of the arts and music,” says Jackson.

In addition to Sprout, Jackson says they’ll have a Hazy IPA out soon. “As for the crazy stuff, let’s just say there there’s a Peach Cobbler Ale in the future,” says Jackson.

Keep up to date with Capsoul Brewing Collective event, beer releases and a brewery opening timeline by following them on Instagram—@wearecapsoul—and Facebook at Capsoulcollective.