11.29: Champion Hires Ken Rayher as Richmond Taproom Brewer
Champion Brewing Company announced today the addition of two linchpins to its new Richmond operation. Ken Rayher, formerly of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, will be Champion’s Richmond Taproom brewer, and Cary Carpenter, formerly of The Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, will manage the bar. The new brewpub, due to open at the end of this year, will be at 401 E. Grace Street, in the former Aurora space in downtown Richmond.
“We’re excited to have Ken join the Champion team, and to have Cary making the move to Richmond to manage the taproom. Our expansion into downtown Richmond is greatly enhanced by the team we’ve been fortunate enough to attract,” said Hunter Smith, founder of Champion.
Rayher, a Roanoke native who has lived in Richmond for more than 17 years, won a Great American Beer Festival silver medal for his Grosse Teufel, a Lichtenhainer weisse brewed under Hardywood’s Brewer and Artist series in 2016 and contributed to the recipe for Hardywood’s flagship pils, a gold medal winner in the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Cup in 2015. “I’ve always been a fan of Champion’s passion and commitment, not just to brewing but to music, culture, and the collaborative spirit that comes through in the finished product. I think the Taproom is going to be a great fit for Richmond’s creative culture,” said Rayher.
Cary Carpenter has been a fixture in Charlottesville’s restaurant scene, with stints at Parallel 38 and the Charlottesville Champion Taproom, as well as being a former partner in The Whiskey Jar. Carpenter’s move to Richmond coincided with the Champion opportunity. “The Richmond food and drink culture is especially exciting with more than 10 craft breweries and cideries within the city limits,” said Carpenter.
As announced in August, 2016, the taproom will feature a sandwich and taco menu offered by chefs Jason Alley and Michele Jones of Pasture and Comfort restaurants.