Quick, how many craft breweries are in the State of Virginia? Don't know? How about just Loudoun County? Don't know? Don't worry, you are not alone, the Loudoun County Economic Development Council doesn't know either.
Unlike Farm Wineries, Craft Breweries in Virginia have not gotten much attention, despite the fact that there is excellent beer being brewed in Virginia.
Hopefully, this is going to change now that Governor Bob McDonnell has loosened the restrictions on Craft Breweries conducting tastings:
Unlike Virginia wineries, breweries in the state haven't been able to sell beer for on-site consumption without having a restaurant. All that began changing on May 15 when Governor Bob McDonnell signed two bills that have craft brewery owners hopping for joy.
"This is a big one for breweries," says Steve Crandall, founder of Devils Backbone Brewing Company up near Wintergreen Resort. "Mark Thompson over at Starr Hill Brewery always told me that a rising tide lifts all boats, and it sure does."
Indeed, Crandall, along with Thompson and a slew of other Virginia brewmeisters who make up the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, managed to convince lawmakers to pass SB 604 and HB 359 in less time than Crandall thought possible, a sign of how the brew biz in the state has grown.
Basically, SB 604 will allow breweries to sell beer and offer on-premises tastings just as wineries do. HB 359 will let breweries make beer for other labels under special contract. It also ends some rather silly distribution procedures.
Hopefully will spur the same growth in Craft Beer that wineries in Virginia have experienced over the last 30 years.