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Virginia is for (beer) lovers

Two San Diego companies building breweries in the Old Dominion

A rendering of Green Flash's upcoming brewery in Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • A rendering of Green Flash's upcoming brewery in Virginia Beach, Virginia

It may be 2,600 miles away on the opposite side of the country and bear little cultural resemblance to Southern California, but relatively soon, Eastern Virginia will feature not one, but two companies providing an authentic taste of San Diego from the right coast. Mira Mesa-based Green Flash Brewing Company announced last March that it would make its second home in Virginia Beach courtesy of a 58,000 square foot brewery, tasting room, and beer garden located on a nine-acre industrial park lot in the city’s Hampton Roads region. And last weekend, owners Mike and Lisa Hinkley and brewmaster Chuck Silva were at the corner of General Booth Boulevard and Corporate Landing, sharing a podium with Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms and other local dignitaries during their groundbreaking ceremony.

Stone Brewing Co. President Steve Wagner announces his company will build a brewery in Richmond, Virginia.

Stone Brewing Co. President Steve Wagner announces his company will build a brewery in Richmond, Virginia.

The event marked the official start of the first phase of construction on the building, which will incorporate the existing landscape and trees as well as smart flow for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and ultimately produce 100,000 barrels of beer annually, all for distribution throughout the Eastern U.S. Proximity to consumers on the other side of the country is important, because it allows Green Flash’s beers — many of which are hop-forward and, therefore, must be drunk fresh in order to deliver their hop-based flavors and aromas — to get to market as quickly as possible. It’s that same goal that motivated Stone Brewing Co. to select the nearby city of Richmond in which to construct its East Coast brewery, restaurant, garden, and packaging hall. That facility will be located on 14 acres in the Greater Fulton community and include a 200,000-square-foot brewery equipped with a 250-barrel brewhouse that will output hundreds of thousands of barrels of beer per year.

Even though Stone announced its intentions in Richmond on October 9, per both companies’ timelines, its Eastern facility may be operative before Green Flash’s. The latter is slated to open in 2016, while Stone estimates a late 2015 or early 2016 start-up. While moving a bit slower, the Hinkleys and company have used the last year-and-a-half wisely, getting to know brewing industry contemporaries in their second home and hosting a version of their Treasure Chest Fest, a beer festival benefitting Susan G. Komen, at their construction site. That event took place on October 12 and involved Virginia Beach breweries, restaurants, and entertainment. So, already, San Diego brewers are making a positive impact at the site of their upcoming digs. That trend will continue. Green Flash’s new facility will employ more than 40 Virginians, while Stone’s is predicted to create 288 jobs in Richmond.

DISCLAIMER: In addition to his work as a freelance journalist, Brandon Hernández is an employee of Stone Brewing Co.

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