August 1, 2014
Craft beer breweries have turned into big business in Virginia and our area is home to many of them. Friday kicks off the start of Virginia craft beer month, so we talked to some local breweries about their booming businesses.
It is a fast growing segment of the state economy and many of the people in the business of beer making here are happy to see it.
Sean Chandler manages the tap room at Champion Brewery.
"It’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful time to be in the industry, to see the growth, and to just be a part of it."
There are 82 breweries in Virginia. Our area is home to a big chunk of them.
Bartender and Quality Control manager of Three Notch’d Brewing Company Cameron Charness has seen a big move towards locally sourced beer.
"There's increased availability of craft beer. People are sort of moving away from the big macro beers. In general in food and drink products you see people being more locally conscious and sustainable and more interested in quality."
The rapid rise in the number of breweries in the state was sparked in part by a 2012 bill passed by the General Assembly to allow craft breweries to sell beer to drink onsite.
That has given way to a boom in tap and tasting rooms which is a trend that area breweries have jumped to take part in.
The industry brings in an estimated $622 million in tax dollars and according to Charness, is growing.
"Sky’s the limit. Craft beers are growing 15-20 percent a year for the last several years even though overall beer sales are down. We are mostly just taking away business from the macro breweries."
Not to mention the job creation benefits. A recent study found the industry employs more than 8,000 people. Charness says it has become a reflection of our community.
"It’s a real expression of the community. It provides local jobs, we try to source a lot of our ingredients from local farmers and producers and we like to think we can sort of capture the flavor of the community."
Chandler says more and more people are seeing the benefit of getting not just their food, but also their beer locally.
"Locally we have so much talent in the industry that they can get behind it and support it and feel like a part of the community when they drink craft beer."
Our area has quickly become a destination for craft beer tasters. Charness says local breweries are enjoying the boom of success together.
"Business is growing great and the same for the other local breweries. They are all awesome and we are glad to see everyone succeeding.”