This past January, we were fortunate enough to take a tour of Fredericksburg Square, which had just been bought by Mike Sarago, owner of Hot Chikn Kitchn, and Ryan Sharkey and Zach Mote, co-owners of Water’s End Brewery. This beautiful building, which has remained in strong structure since before the Civil War, has played host to a number of businesses and organizations throughout the centuries, from the Order of Elks to the restaurant Augustine’s. The vastly historical Fredericksburg Square is beautiful and grand. In January, it seemed that Sarago, Sharkey, and Mote had their work cut out for them with renovating the old building.
Shining in its new refurbishments, the soft opening for Fredericksburg Square will be this Saturday and Sunday, when Water’s End Brewery will open their taproom on the main floor. This Friday, July 1st, will be an exclusive day for Fredericksurg Founders. If you would like to become a Fredericksburg Founder, you can sign up here. Sharkey is excited to open this exquisite brewery, as he believes Fredericksburg Square is a gorgeous landmark in the city.
“It’s just hard to walk in this building once, and then walk away from it,” Sharkey said. “It’s just too cool a space to get out of your head.”
Sharkey said that he and Mote chose to partner with Sarago because of their similar visions of simplicity. Both Water’s End and Hot Chikn Kitchn focus on their strengths, offering direct and simple, yet savory items. Hot Chikn Kitchn focuses on spicy chicken sandwiches, with four levels of heat. For the first two levels, Sharkey recommends guests pair their sandwiches with a lighter beer, such as their Kolsch or Damn Beer Golden Ale. For the two hotter levels, which Sharkey said are significantly spicy, he recommends a hoppier beer, such as the Don’t Haze Me Bro! IPA or Juice Bucket Imperial IPA.
Water’s End will open with a variety of beer styles, many of which are new to their business. They intend to eventually add their flagship beers, Damn Beer and Don’t Haze Me Bro, to their lineup of seven taps at Fredericksburg Square. They will also have additional canned beers available, as well as growler fills. They will be opening a temporary biergarten to the right side of the building, with the eventual goal in mind of opening a permanent biergarten in the backyard; the temporary biergarten is anticipated to open at the end of July, which will have 12 draft lines available.
One of the most exciting ideas that Sharkey has for his line of taps is to name new brews after famous Fredericksburg citizens and stories. Having done a similar project at the original Water’s End location in Lake Ridge, Sharkey is ready to bring a Fredericksburg-specific approach to his product here. A native to Fredericksburg, Sharkey has witnessed the immense evolution of the restaurant and bar scene downtown. He noted that there have not been many openings of new businesses at the end of Caroline St (by Fredericksburg Station), and hopes that Fredericksburg Square can draw attention to that area of downtown.
Sharkey views Fredericksburg Square as a versatile building, and has endless goals for what they can add to its success. With phase one of their business to begin this weekend (the opening of the Water’s End taproom), and with Hot Chikn Kitchn soon to open, Sharkey intends to grow Fredericksburg Square even further not just with the biergarten, but with the massive concert venue on the top floor. He said that while the venue may take a bit longer to get prepared for events, he cannot wait to host music artists, comedians, and much more.
Sharkey is also excited for Water’s End to join the ranks of the craft brewery scene in Fredericksburg. Now a member of the Fredericksburg Area Beer Trail, he said that with Water’s End and the other FAB Trail breweries, Fredericksburg is becoming a prime location for beer tourism. He noted that Haley’s Honey Meadery, A. Smith Bowman Distillery, and the recently opened Wild Hare Cider Pub give Fredericksburg the “Scott’s Addition Effect,” which is named after a neighborhood in Richmond known for its extensive amount of craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries. Water’s End will be, next to Red Dragon, the only other brewery downtown; The Port Oysteria & Brewery is set to join them next year.
“Fredericksburg is always looking for the next thing,” Sharkey said, and intends to keep people on their toes with what comes next for Fredericksburg Square. For now, guests of Water’s End Brewery can soon enjoy their exquisite beer, with delicious sandwiches from Hot Chikn Kitchn soon to come. The Water’s End Brewery taproom at Fredericksburg Square will begin its soft opening this Saturday-Sunday, and will be open every Friday-Saturday throughout the summer. Once the kitchen is ready, Fredericksburg Square will announce its grand opening for both Water’s End Brewery and Hot Chikn Kitchn.
Fredericksburg Square is located at 525 Caroline St. Follow them on Facebook.