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Virginia a leader in nationwide craft beer boom

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Posted at 1:06 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 13:12:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia is one of the leaders when it comes to the nationwide craft beer boom, which is at a nationwide record high.

Brewers Association releases annual growth figures for American craft brewers

Brewers Association releases annual growth figures for American craft brewers

The Brewer’s Association, who represents small and independent American craft brewers, released 2015 industry data that shows there are more breweries than ever before in the states. Craft brewers now represent 12 percent market share of the overall beer industry, but because of their premium-priced offerings, their sales represent a 21 percent market share.

Virginia was one of four states, all in the South region, that saw a net increase of more than 20 breweries. This trade association news came the same day that Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery announced Roanoke will be the site for their East Coast production facility.

Brewers in Virginia benefitted from the 2012 Senate Bill 604, a change in state law which allowed breweries to serve beer without selling food. Since then brewers have said they had a financial motivation to open.

It was a year after SB 604 passed that David Hunter started the Fans of Virginia Craft Breweries on Facebook. He was hooked on Virginia craft beer after trying Midnight Brewery’s Rockville Red. He invited 50 of his friends to join his Facebook group in March  2013 and now the page has almost 8,000 members statewide.

“There were four breweries in Richmond at the time [SB 604 passed] now we’re in the teens, with many more on the way,” Hunter said, in a previous interview.

There will soon be a total of 15 breweries/cideries (and a meadery) open in Richmond city, and a total of 26 breweries operating in the metro-area. More than half of all the breweries in the Richmond-metro area are in the city.

Richmond craft brewers continue to flourish

Currently, within Richmond’s 60 square miles, there is almost one brewery per 10,000 people. That’s based on 2010 Census data that excludes people under the age of 20. It’s one brewery per 10,413 persons. Within a two-mile radius there are 11 breweries.

Click for interactive content.

Click for interactive content.

This year in the small, historic neighborhood of Scott’s Addition, five breweries are set to open.

Ardent Craft Ales, Black Heath Meadery, and Isley Brewing are already open in Scott’s Addition. Reservoir Distillery has been producing whiskey on Summit Street since 2009, and recently opened a tasting room at 1800 Summit Avenue. Within the next two months, Buskey Cidery, Veil and Three Notch’d plan to open. Vasen Brewery and Blue Bee Cidery will open in fall 2016, maybe sooner for Blue Bee.

Outside of Scott’s Addition, Castleburg Brewery, on Ownby Lane near Hardywood, has an April opening planned. Stone Brewing just opened, but is not yet selling beer brewed in Richmond. Outside of the city, off Midlothian, Steam Bell Beer Works has a spring opening planned. Kindred Spirits in Goochland hopes to open in May.

Double-digit boom, nationwide

Over the past eight years, craft brewers have seen a double-digit boom, nationwide. In 2015, the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 15 percent, totaling 4,269 breweries — a record high.

Of those craft brewers, 2,397 are classified as microbreweries; 1,650 are brewpubs and 178 are regional craft breweries. The Brewers Association says 620 new breweries opened last year – and only 68 closed.

Last year the output for craft brewers increased to 24.5 million barrels, with a 16 percent increase in retail dollar value. The total U.S. beer market grossed $105.9 billion

Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 122,000 jobs, an increase of over 6,000 from the previous year.