THERE’S A SAYING—a rising tide lifts all boats.
For the Virginia craft beer scene, which is already making its own waves, that rising tide could be the arrival of San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. to Richmond.
The brewery announced plans last week to open an East Coast facility in Richmond by 2016 that will include a 250-barrel brewhouse production facility and eventually, a restaurant and gardens.
Few craft breweries are in demand enough to need a production presence on the opposite coast. They just don’t distribute that far away from the actual brewery.
But Stone’s investment in the city of Richmond, in the range of $74 million and at least 288 jobs, will bring a West Coast brewery to the commonwealth.
Stone’s investment in the Virginia craft beer scene says something. It says that Virginia is serious about its craft beer and it will be able to sustain a major national brand.
Richmond boasts about a dozen breweries already, becoming a major player on the East Coast’s beer scene.
It’s even beginning to rival Asheville, N.C., another craft beer lover’s paradise tucked away in the mountains. Asheville will soon have major players New Belgium from Fort Collins, Colo., and Sierra Nevada from Northern California.
The Fredericksburg region is a growing beer scene itself—with half a dozen breweries already open and another bunch in the works, with plans to open in the next year.
Tim Bornholtz, one of the co-owners of Stafford County’s Adventure Brewing said Stone’s coming is fantastic.
“It just shows that Virginia is a good place for beer, and people are interested in good beer,” he said.
Stone will have a 250-barrel brewing system and will produce about 100,000 barrels of beer per year, and eventually, possibly a half-million barrels yearly.
By comparison, Hardywood Park in Richmond has a 20-barrel system, and Devil’s Backbone has a 30-barrel system.
Green Flash Brewing, which is planning to open a production brewery, tasting room and beer garden in Virginia Beach in 2016, is also from San Diego. It will also eventually produce 100,000 barrels.
“I think people are going to hear more about Stone and what they are doing and hopefully bring more people into craft beer that aren’t necessarily aware of it,” Bornholtz said.
Richmond already has one of the country’s top-rated beer bars, Mekong.
Virginia has more than 80 breweries either opened, or in the planning stages.
I’m sure that will only increase, with Stone coming and others around the country taking notice of Virginians’ growing interest in craft beer.
It’s also good for Virginia, from a business perspective.
“It’s a big win for the state of Virginia to show that Virginia is business-friendly and we can attract people from outside Virginia,” Bornholtz said.