Some mornings call for a classic cup of joe. Then there are those days better kicked off by a silky-smooth coffee stout bursting with bright, malty, espresso-rich goodness and weighing in at “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” 6.3% ABV.
Good news: you can have your brew and get your drink on too at the new COVA Brewing Company in Norfolk’s East Ocean View, where a unique business model is offering patrons both freshly made gourmet coffee and house-brewed craft beer all day, almost every day (they’re closed on Tuesdays).
The former automobile service station on Shore Drive, a stone’s throw from East Beach Marina, has been miraculously transformed into a bright, breezy modern space with a beachy-teal color scheme in which guests are greeted by a smiling barista on the right and a brewmaster on the left. Plenty of socially distanced and shaded outdoor seating was added as COVID-19 reality sunk in during the location’s buildout.
COVA Brewing is the combined brainchild of Norfolk locals Susan and Scott Bateman, who had been looking to open a brewery in the area for several years, and Karla and Phil Smith, who recognized an opportunity in the market when they moved to East Beach from Ohio and noticed they couldn’t find a decent coffee shop nearby. A marriage made in coffee- and beer-lovers heaven was born.
“We served our first beer at 9:30 this morning,” noted Phil Smith on a recent Thursday afternoon as he happily noshed on a scratch-made blueberry lemon pound cake from COVA’s pastry case and a just-brewed cup of coffee courtesy of beans from their Durham, North Carolina-based roaster, Counter Culture.
Day drinking is best done in moderation, of course, and Smith and his co-owners envision the spot as a “hyperlocal community” destination for caffeinated beverages, flavored seltzers and kombucha beginning at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, and adult libations until as late as 9 or 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday when they’ll also be featuring food trucks and live music. As their tagline touts, “There’s always something brewing at COVA.”
On the beer side, they’ve enlisted the expertise of brewmaster Matt Topping, formerly of Coelacanth Brewing, who makes the magic happen in their seven-barrel brewhouse and will be free to get creative in an environment where, Smith says “we always want to be trying something new to keep everybody’s palate moving.”
In addition to the aforementioned coffee stout and its nitro counterpart, recent COVA brews on offer included their Hazy IPA, When Life Gives You Lemons Gose, Passionfruit and Lime Gose, and a Munich-style Helles lager.
Their super-cool self-serve tap system—complete with a strictly enforced sanitation ritual for safety—allows you to mix, match, taste and try not only their beers but a selection of guest brews, wines and ciders, each with appropriate temperature controls. A steel chardonnay and a dry rosé from Eastern Shore-based Chatham Vineyards were recent choices as was a cabernet sauvignon from California and a pinot noir from Oregon.
Whether you come on foot or by bike, car or golf cart, be prepared to sip and stay a while at COVA Brewing.