Friday, July 24, 2015

Virginia to celebrate Craft Beer Month in August.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed August to be Virginia Craft Beer Month, and Virginia breweries will celebrate ... and compete.

August is Virginia Craft Beer Month

Virginia Craft Beer Month 2015

WHEREAS, brewing homegrown, locally sourced beer in Virginia is a tradition that began in 1587, when Virginia colonists brewed their first ale using corn; and

WHEREAS, the production of craft beer stimulates economic growth in Virginia by supporting local farmers of grains, barley, and hops; and

WHEREAS, the craft beer industry also supports a growing $623 million economic impact in Virginia, along with more than 8,000 jobs; and

WHEREAS, Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, established in 2010 as a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in Virginia, will host the 4th annual Virginia Craft Brewers Fest on August 22, 2015, at Devils Backbone Basecamp in Nelson County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, there are more than 115 licensed craft breweries in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, Virginia Craft Brewers Month is an opportunity to celebrate the Commonwealth’s craft beer and the business and community leaders working to grow the industry;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize August 2015 as VIRGINIA CRAFT BEER MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA,and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

'Craft' beer1 is a booming business in Virginia. In just one year, the state has seen a 47% increase in the number of its breweries. Excluding Anheuser-Busch in Williamsburg, and MillerCoors in Elkton, there are now 121 125 licensed 'craft' breweries in Virginia, six more than the Governor had proclaimed. In 2014, by comparison, there were eighty-two 'craft' breweries in the state; in 2013, just over fifty.2

The greater portion of this growth can be tracked back to 2012, to the passage of Virginia Senate Bill 604 and House Bill 359, that allowed production breweries —that is, breweries without a restaurant attached (aka brewpubs)— to sell beer for on-site consumption in their public taprooms. That same year, the Virginia legislature first proclaimed August to be Virginia Craft Beer Month.

According to the Beer Institute, the total economic impact of the beer industry in the state of Virginia during 2014 was:
  • $4.9 billion dollars in direct economic impact.
  • $2.6 billion dollars in taxes.
  • 26,184 jobs.
For comparison, in all of the United States, in 2014, the beer industry accounted for:
  • $253 billion in economic activity (1.5% of GDP).
  • 1.75 million jobs.
  • $48.5 billion in tax revenue.
Also using 2014 numbers, the (U.S.) Brewers Association ranks Virginia as:
  • 15th in the U.S. for number of breweries
  • 27th in terms of breweries per capita (at 1.3 per 100,000 residents)
  • 19th for economic impact.

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild —a subset of the Virginia Manufacturers Association— "is a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth." Every year, since 2012, the Guild has celebrated Virginia Craft Beer Month by organizing the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest at the fairgrounds of Devils Backbone Brewing, in Roseland, Virginia. This year, that will be on Saturday, 22 August.

A highlight of the festival is the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup to the state's best beer and brewery. Nationally accredited judges (BJCP, the Beer Budge Certification Program) judge entries independently, earlier in the month. Last year they judged over two-hundred beers entered in fourteen categories.

Host brewery Devils Backbone has won the Cup —and bragging rights as Virginia's best— three years running before this year. This August, one-hundred twenty other breweries may have plans to wrest that away. The results? Here. [Spoiler alert: Devils Backbone did not get a four-peat this year.]

  • 1 There is no legal or governmental definition of 'craft' brewery. However, the (U.S.) Brewers Association does define it, for purposes of membership, as "small, independent, and traditional": here.

  • More on the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, on 22 August:
  • The results of the 2014 competition: here.

  • The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild does not maintain a listing a events for Virginia Craft Beer Month. For that: Virginia Beer Trail is an excellent resource, not affiliated with the Guild. Look for events with the tag, Virginia Craft Beer Month. Or, if you're a brewery or pub or venue celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month with an event(s), post an announcement at that site.
  • There is no official logo for Virginia Craft Beer Month. The artwork above was created a few years ago by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, a government/private business entity. It has a list of this year's events at its blog: here.

  • 2 The Virginia ABC (Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) maintains a list of breweries operating in Virginia (that is, paying taxes and licensing fees). As of August 2015, there were 125. In 2014, there were 83; in 2013, 50.
  • For a list of those breweries that have active Twitter accounts in Virginia (and Maryland and Washington, D.C.): go here.

  • For more from YFGF:

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