The article in the Virginian Pilot announcing the plan to put a Veil Brewing location in Norfolk made it sound like the greatest place on earth. A beer lovers paradise. Where people drive for hours, wait for hours, just to purchase rare cans of beer that are renowned throughout the country. When I saw an updated article announcing that Veil Brewing had opened I had to try and it luckily I had time this weekend.
First I want to add that no one should judge there experience by my experience. Nothing that happened at Veil Brewing is in anyway their fault or the fault of the beer. I will tell you simply that at some point in time in my life I must have angered a witch and she cursed me with a spell of endless suffering of minor inconveniences particularly in restaurants. It is either that or the CIA missed out on hiring me as the world’s greatest spy because I am always getting forgotten about. Even when I order fast food and ask for it to stay I get it to go about 60% of the time. When I was eight years old at a birthday party I patiently waited in line to play whatever party game they were playing, and when I got to the front of the line the mother of the birthday child told me I couldn’t play the game because I’d already gone. I told her it must have been someone that looked like me because I had not but it was no luck and I never got my turn.
So, Veil Brewing company. I am not sure if it was opening week jitters, incompetent management, or my unique curse of being forgotten about particularly in restaurants but a lot went wrong, and none of it was with the infants we had with us. First I will reveal a small pet peeve of mine when it comes to drinking beer. A pint is 16 ounces. If you order a draft beer you should get a pint and if it is an English style beer it should always come in a pint glass. Tulip cups and sniffers are fine on occasion but when I’m craving a beer I want it dark and I want it in a pint glass. Veil Brewing considers a full pour to be 12 ounces. They also had 12 IPAs on draft with only two stouts, both of the imperial variety, and no porters. As we were planning to go Thanksgiving shopping after the brewery and I still had work later that evening imperial stouts of 10.5% ABV where not a good idea.
With that in mind I settled on a blackberry sour. It was listed as smoothie style so I asked what that was as my initial thought was that it was a beer blended with ice chips and I didn’t really want a beer smoothie. I later deduced that smoothie style is in the construction of the beer with several ingredients blended together and added during the fermentation process. The beer itself was alright. If you like blackberries and sour beers you’d like this one. It was a little sweet for my taste and the thickness of it gave me heartburn. Not something I’d drink again.
And here is where the problems begin. After ordering this beer I discovered they had food options and nothing goes better with a beer than a burger. The decision was made and we ordered food. After ordering food I walked around to all three levels and saw that they were all just more bars and the upstairs bars had a limited selection of the beers. I was about finished with my first beer at this point and decided on a second. A lager that was made with floor malted and oak smoked wheat. A beer malted like a scotch. That is something right up my alley and I was eager to try it. Unfortunately there was either air in the line or the keg was empty as it poured nothing but head. After waiting about ten minutes I ordered a half pour of the Hollow Place, one of the imperial stouts. Now this was delicious and a high quality stout, and most importantly it didn’t have the overpowering alcohol taste that imperial stouts often do.
It was halfway through drinking this stout that I noticed it had been awhile since I ordered food. I looked at my untapped app to see when I’d first checked in and it had been 47 minutes ago. As I ordered food right after getting my first beer it had been awhile. I went to the counter to check on my food and discovered that the ticket had never made it to the kitchen. The person helping me at this point must have been the manager as he showed the absolute correct amount of anger and promised that my food would be right out. But something else happened at this moment to sour my experience. I noticed on the display something I hadn’t ordered an when I pointed it out he said, “Oh that’s your beers.” I let it drop thinking it might be as it was a sour, but when I looked at the beer menu I noticed it wasn’t the sour I’d ordered. Again I figured maybe they rang up the wrong one. I never questioned this further and would regret not doing so when trying to fall asleep later that evening.
With the food situation taken care of and the burger consumed (at $13 it is too much for a burger that tastes like something you’d get at a school cafeteria or downtown museum and should be $5 at most. The fries were good though.) it was time for another beer and I wanted to try that Burn. Lucky for me it was working and this is when I decided to close my tab, and after this I’m never running a tab at a brewery again, because I am now certain either someone else was using my tab on purpose or one of the bartenders mistakenly added someone else’s drinks to my tab. When I got home and did the math I had ordered $19 worth of beer, a $13 burger, and a grilled cheese that ended up on the house because of the food delay, and $19 plus $13 is $32 before taxes. My final bill was $53 which I added a 20% tip to. I doubt the city of Norfolk has a 40% restaurant tax. I didn’t question it because $53 is about what I’ve paid when we’ve gone to other Brewpubs and ordered food and drinks, and again it wasn’t until I was falling asleep that night that I did the math.
And how was the Burn I’d wanted to try so bad. It was a good lager. Better than I’ve had at a craft brewery before but not better than the Kostritzer that I get at Total Wine, and I truly have had yet to have a stout better than Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. When it comes to experiences I am often a fool. Always questing after the new thing and ignoring the better thing I’ve already discovered, but again I discovered those things through the questing for new experiences and how are we to know there isn’t something better out there if we give up searching a settle into the comfortable and known.
This is why I visit craft breweries. It is in case they have something better than what I’ve already had. For me though I like my beers to be smooth, dark, and in a pint glass. Veil Brewing is a place for those that like beers bitter, sour, sweet, and in a 12 ounces tulip cup. i would visit again, and perhaps try one of their IPAs. They do have 12 of them. Maybe they’ve gotten good at making one of them. If Veil Brewing’s cans are traded across the country they must be doing something right, and maybe it’s like certain genre’s of music, good if you like that sort of thing but just not to me. Craft beer is an art form and like any other art it isn’t going to be for everyone. I like Pollock and Caravaggio someone else might like J.M.W. Turner and Jacques-Louis David. Beer like art is subjective, and until I try more of Veil Brewing’s beers, and maybe have an experience where I don’t wait 45 minutes for a substandard burger and get ripped off by $20, then I have to say it’s not for me.