ASHLAND, Va. — Center of the Universe Brewing Company (COTU) in Ashland announced plans to open a new micro brewing and taproom concept called Origin.
Origin will let beer lovers develop their own beer, creating flavors not available anywhere else.
While the beers made in this lab will not join COTU’s distribution line-up, the approximately 50-seat taproom in a main tourist attraction will boost the brewery’s bottom line.
Origin will be located at the site of an old antique store at 106 S. Railroad Avenue in downtown Ashland. Construction began in August and an opening is expected in the fall.
Co-founder Chris Ray said he hopes to add to the transformation of Ashland.
“As an Ashland resident, I have been extremely impressed with The Main Street Association’s progress in revamping downtown Ashland,” Ray said. “Our goal outside of the practical applications for the brewery, is to assist and build upon Main Street’s progress and bring to light the wonderful area that I call home.”
The new taproom is one of several expansion moves for the brand, which originally opened on Nov. 16, 2012. Brothers Chris and Phil Ray left their careers as professional baseball player and aerospace engineer to turn their homebrew hobby into an obsession.
In February 2016, COTU increased brewing capacity in order to expand distribution into Northern Virginia. They also added a rotary canning line, the first in Virginia, and went through a complete remodel of their tasting room to increase capacity.
To support all the growth, Phil and Chris Ray tapped a Richmond marketing consultant and former restaurateur, Sarah Choi, as the general manager to oversee taproom operation, private event sales and marketing.
Origin will produce approximately 30 barrels of beer per month. The taproom will include indoor and outdoor seating, merchandise, and availability for packaged beer to go.
“I am very excited that my favorite brewing company is opening a space in the heart of the Center of the Universe,” Ashland Mayor James Foley said. “COTU makes the best beers on the planet and I encourage everyone to come down and try one.”