• Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Tap Into Dragon Run Brewing

If you’re thirsty, stop by Dragon Run Brewing just off Route 33 in Shacklefords to find out what’s on tap.

Choose between the new Courthouse Smash with fresh local hops or an old standby, Tom’s Coffee Stout with caramel. Or maybe the Blueberry Lemonade Shandy vs. Lafayette’s French Saison? Don’t worry. With so much variety, co-owner Tommy Adkins doesn’t mind offering a few samples to make your selection a tad easier.

Better yet, taste one in the taproom and ask for another to take home. Mix and match your own four-pack. Pumpkin spice latte fans will enjoy the Cohoke Pumpkin Ale.

“We try to find something for everybody,” said Adkins, who turned his craft brewing hobby into a business in King and Queen last December. “We create beers, sure, but if you’re a non-beer drinker, odds are you’re going to find something you like, too.”

Depending on the night, you can take a turn at trivia, feast on barbecue nachos from a food truck or catch the game on the tube. City slickers, beware.

“We’re from the country and we like it that way,” Adkins said. “You get the nice country hospitality here.”

It’s a family business that Adkins runs with his sister, Lindsay. Both had left for more urban lifestyles — him in Jacksonville, Florida, and her in New Orleans — when they decided they would rather be closer to their roots.

“Why don’t I do this?” Lindsay asked one day

“I’ve been telling you that for years!” Tommy responded.

Lindsay, a chemist, shared Tommy’s entrepreneurial spirit, and her science background gives them an edge when brewing up new concoctions. They offer at least six beers all the time, but the flavors evolve.

They already had the name before the location. The siblings grew up with a yard backed up to Dragon Run State Forest. Tommy Adkins waxes nostalgic in referring to what passersby might regard as little more than swampland.

“To me the Dragon represents the way things used to be — untouched by anything commercial,” he said. “I hunt and fish on the same land as the Powhatan Indians before the Jamestown settlers showed up.”

Dragon Run Brewery opened in December 2019. Three months in, the governor’s order related to the pandemic forced them to close the tap room.

“We had really started to hit our stride,” he said. “That took a lot of momentum out of our sales.”

Receiving a Back to Business grant from the King & Queen County Economic Development Authority, as administered by the Middle Peninsula District Planning Commission, provided a much-needed lift. The grants assist business impacted by COVID-19 by covering a portion of the increased costs incurred in response to the new health and safety requirements.

While they do not cover general operating costs, funds can be used to reimburse owners for the increased expenses related to changed business practices in response to the pandemic. Grant applications for expenses incurred after May 7 will be accepted until Nov. 15.

Upward of 80% of Dragon Run Brewing’s business had been onsite. With the taproom off limits for two months, Adkins had to innovate in a hurry.

He already owned a small canning machine, that he admits, “I didn’t think I’d ever end up using.”

With grant funds, he bought a conversion kit along with the tools that would enable him to step up to-go sales.

Once the executive order lifted and enabled him to reopen the taproom, Adkins expanded his outdoor seating area. He had the space to separate folks by 12 feet if he wanted. But he needed more tables, chairs and umbrellas — all reimbursable expenses under the Back to Business grant.

The ease of receiving the funds was seamless, he said. For reimbursement purposes, he needed receipts. “Most businesses should have those anyway for tax purposes,” he said. “I put everything on a Cloud for backup. I downloaded them and made notations for each of the charges.”

Adkins got the thumbs up from the planning commission a week after he submitted the paperwork, and two weeks after that, his check arrived in the mail.

Dragon Run Brewing business picked up toward the end of the summer. The ample space outdoors allowed a local musician to stop in for a set. Outdoors means cornhole. With temperatures down, enjoying a cold brew outdoors is even more inviting.

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