Two well-known craft breweries on the West Coast are setting their sights on East Coast beer drinkers. According to The Washington Post, San Diego-based beer makers Green Flash Brewing and Stone Brewing Co. both have new facilities in the works for the state of Virginia.
Both breweries are slated to open in Virginia by early 2016. Green Flash's brewery-slash-tasting room facility in Virginia Beach will produce 100,000 barrels a year, while Stone Brewing will first launch a Richmond brewery, then follow it up with a gigantic restaurant and beer garden similar to one that already exists in San Diego.
The Post points out that "breweries used to be shunned as nuisances," but times have changed: After "losing Sierra Nevada Brewing, New Belgium Brewing and Oskar Blues to neighboring North Carolina," the state of Virginia finally passed a bill in 2012 that "allowed breweries to operate on-site taprooms and made the state much more attractive to out-of-town beermakers."
Stone is receiving millions of dollars in incentives from the city of Richmond, with the promise of hundreds of jobs plus an influx of tourism, but not everyone is thrilled about a West Coast craft beer giant coming to town. The founder of a local craft brewery, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, tells the Post that "Stone brews more beer than the 100-plus homegrown Virginia craft breweries combined, representing a daunting scale for an imported competitor." On the other hand, he admits that "craft beer has only about a 3 percent share of the Virginia market ... leaving 'plenty of room for growth.'"
Virginia isn't the only place Stone Brewing Co. is eyeing for expansion: Per CBS News, the beermaker — which is the tenth biggest craft brewer in America — also has a brewery, beer garden, and restaurant project in the works for Berlin.