For old school Richmonders, the animated Climax sign that once sat atop Belle Isle amidst the James River was an iconic landmark. The flashing neon sign with clock perched above greeted automobile traffic for more than thirty years as commuters crossed the Old Lee Bridge into Richmond. In fact, the Climax sign was so prominent that pilots who were trying to land at the Byrd Field airport used it as a landmark to guide their landing approach from the air.
Climax was quintessential Richmond. Sadly, both the sign and Climax Beverage Co. were lost to history as the company went out of business in the late 1960s when it was sold by Home Brewing as chronicled by Richmond Magazine in their “A Sign of Pleasure” article by Harry Kollatz Jr.
Well, we thought it was about time that Richmond’s iconic Climax brand should get a second chance.
We are Happy to Announce the Re-launch of Climax Beverage Co.
Since everything that is old is new again these days, we decided that such an iconic Richmond brand deserved another chance. In the attempt to relaunch Climax Beverage Co., we intend to focus on two key areas of beverage production. The first area is in the historical soda line featuring old time recipes including Climax’s spicy flagship-it’s legendary Pale Dry Ginger Ale. We plan to also add classic flavors such as root beer, sarsaparilla, cherry cola, cream soda, and a whole bevy of seasonal beverages such as cucumber basil fizz. The goal is to bring back some of the nostalgia for an iconic Richmond brand using old timey flavors with natural ingredients.
The second area of production is a modern adaptation of the retro Climax brand in a craft alcoholic beverage line that will focus on a variety of brewed flavors. These alcoholic beverages will include hard ginger beer, hard root beer, hard cider, sparkling wine, and fruit brewed beverages. The goal of the craft alcoholic brewed beverage line is to embrace experimentation with a whole line of brewed flavors and crossover methods that blur the lines between traditionally hard-defined categories.
We have begun our work by researching the brand, its history, and filing for trademark registration for the various logos. And yes, we have plans to bring back that incredible animated neon Climax sign. No, it won’t be put back on Belle Isle though, as the historic island has rightfully been made wild again as part of the James River Park System. The Climax neon sign will be placed at our new home.
Where Will Climax Call Home? Swansboro Is the Answer!
Our next task was to decide where to set up the brewing/bottling operation and tasting room for Climax Beverage Co. We intend to locate Climax in Swansboro, just west of Manchester, as part of a destination based development that will focus on food & beverages. This large Swansboro development will include the old Siegel’s grocery store we have already begun restoring. The goal is for this development to be transformative for the area so it will create jobs, adaptively reuse historic buildings, include new complementary construction, and establish a reliable tax base for the City. Our hope is that the final result will include some mixed use and green space to help add stability to an area which is currently suffering from decades of neglect.
There Is A Ton Of Work To Do, So This Won’t Be Quick
To flesh all this out, we have engaged SMBW architects to assist with the master planning. Climax Beverage Co. will be folded in as one component of a broad vision for this multi-faceted re-development effort. The hope is that the revitalized area will include a whole swath of purveyors including food vendors, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and fresh produce/market items to help serve the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. If local farms would like to be involved and help establish a regular outdoor farmer’s market component, their involvement would be welcomed as the development proceeds.