Friday, September 04, 2015

Virginia 'craft' beer is booming.

August was Virginia Craft Beer Month, first proclaimed by the Virginia legislature in 2012.

It was worthy of celebrating. 'Craft' beer is doing a booming business in in the state.

Virginia is for CraftBeer Lovers

In just one year, the Commonwealth of Virginia has seen a 47% increase in the number of its breweries. There are now one-hundred twenty-five (125) 'craft' breweries in the state. In 2014, by comparison, there were eighty-two 'craft' breweries; in 2013, just over fifty. 1

According to the Beer Institute, the total economic impact of the beer industry in 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).
  • $48.5 billion in tax revenue.
  • 1.75 million jobs.
Also using 2014 numbers, the (U.S.) Brewers Association ranks Virginia as:
  • 15th in the U.S. for number of breweries (out of 51)
  • 27th for breweries per capita (at 13 per 100,000 residents)
  • 19th for economic impact; 39th for economic impact per capita ($173.18).
    [Statistics for Washington, D.C. and Maryland below the jump. 2]
The greater portion of this growth can be tracked 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.

Full bar @Caboose

Nationwide growth of at-brewery sales

This increase of at-the-brewery-consumption is not limited to Virginia. The adjoining state of Maryland and the District of Columbia allow it too. And, it's growing throughout the U.S., in those states that permit it. As beer blogger Bryan D. Roth reported:
A glance at the most recent statistical report on beer by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau shows production of beer in several categories is roughly on par with last year, including kegs, bottles and cans. However, one area stands out quite a bit. One big takeaway from the latest TTB beer production report: people are drinking a lot more beer at breweries.

Nationwide, that's 46.7% more beer consumed at breweries from January to June over the same period last year: 422,561 versus 287,965 barrels.

Virginia Craft Brewers Festival 2015

Virginia Craft Brewers Cup

A highlight of Virginia Craft Beer Month was the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, now in its fourth year. And a highlight of that was the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup to the state's best beers and breweries, as determined by nationally accredited judges (of the BJCP, the Beer Budge Certification Program).

For the three years prior, host brewery, Devils Backbone, had won the Cup —and bragging rights as Virginia's best. But things changed this year. The Answer —the less-than-a year-old brewpub of An Bui, long-time proprietor of Vietnamese restaurateur/craft beer bar Mekong— won best-of-show, for its IPA.

The Virginia Craft Brewers Cup competition by the numbers:
  • 306 beers were entered in 24 categories. 3 [In 2014, 200 beers in 14 categories.]
  • The Answer (in Richmond) was one of 3 breweries to garner 3 gold medals. The other two were Devils Backbone (Roseland, Lexington)) and Midnight Brewing (Rockville). No one brewery received more than three gold medals.
  • Devils Backbone took home the most overall medals with 6, followed by O'Connor Brewing (Norfolk) with 5, and Lickinghole Creek (Goochland) with four.
  • 7 breweries, including The Answer, were awarded 3 medals.

Answer Brewpub head brewer Brandon Tolbert hoists the Virginia Beer Cup
Photo courtesy Virginia Craft Beer

The 2015 winners:
  • Best of Show
  • Light Lager
  • Pilsner
  • Amber and Dark Lager
    • Gold
      Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Schwartz Bier
    • Silver
      Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Vienna Lager
    • Bronze
      Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet) – Jomo
  • Light American Ale
  • Kolsch and Altbier
  • British Bitter
  • Scottish and Irish Amber Ale
    • Gold
      Midnight Brewery – Rockville Red
    • Silver
      Three Notch’d Brewing (Charlottesville) – Hydraulion Red
    • Bronze
      Capitol City Brewing Company (Arlington) – Canny Lass
  • American Amber and Brown Ale
    • Gold
      Rusty Beaver Brewery (Ladysmith) – Roy’s Big Bad Brown Ale
    • Silver
      Wolf Hills Brewing – Creeper Trail Amber Ale
    • Bronze
      O’Connor Brewing Company (Norfolk) – Red Nun Red Ale
  • English Mild and Brown Ale
    • Gold
      Three Notch’d Brewing (Charlottesville) – No Veto Brown
    • Silver
      Midnight Brewery – Not My Job
    • Bronze
      Garden Grove Brewing Company (Richmond) – Broke Down Soldier
  • American Pale Ale
  • IPA
    • Gold
      The Answer (Richmond) – Larceny
    • Silver
      Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery (Richmond) – Citra Ass Down
    • Bronze
      Young Veterans Brewing Company (Virginia Beach) – Semper Fi PA
  • Imperial IPA
    • Gold
      Parkway Brewing Company (Salem) – 4 Damn Fights to a Pint
    • Silver
      O’Connor Brewing Company (Norfolk) – Heavy Footer DIPA
    • Bronze
      The Answer (Richmond) – Hard In The Paint
  • Porter
    • Gold
      Devils Backbone Brewing Company Basecamp (Roseland) – Danzig
    • Silver
      Big Ugly Brewing (Chesapeake) – Ghost Rider Porter
    • Bronze
      Parkway Brewing Company (Salem) – Raven’s Roost Baltic Porter
  • Stout
  • Russian Imperial Stout
    • Gold
      Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland) – Virginia Black Bear
    • Silver
      Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery (Midlothian) – Sin Bin
    • Bronze
      St. George Brewing Company (Hampton) – Imperial Stout
  • Strong Ale
  • German Wheat Beer
  • Belgian Session Ales
  • Belgian Strong Ales
  • Sour Ale
    • Gold
      Alewerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg) – Lover’s Greed
    • Silver
      Reaver Beach Brewing (Virginia Beach) – Jolie Rogue
    • Bronze
      Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond) – Berliner Weisse
  • Smoked and Wood Aged Beer
    • Gold
      O’Connor Brewing Company (Norfolk) – Backyard Bonfire Smoked IPA
    • Silver
      Adroit Theory Brewing Company (Purcellville) – Devil Made Me (Bourbon Aged)
    • Bronze
      Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland) – Li
  • Herb, Spice, and Vegetable Beer
    • Gold
      St. George Brewing Company (Hampton) – Pumpkinfest
    • Silver
      Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland) – Heir Apparent
    • Bronze
      Blue Mountain Barrel House (Lexington) – Spooky
  • Fruit Beer
    • Gold – River Company Brewery (Fairlawn) – Peachicot Blonde Ale
    • Silver – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond) – Raspberry Stout
    • Bronze – Alewerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg) – Pumpkin Ale
  • Specialty
    • Gold
      Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria) – Ways & Means IPA
    • Silver
      Parkway Brewing Company (Salem) – Gose Both Ways
    • Bronze
      Lost Rhino Brewing (Ashburn) – Tmavy
  • 1 This number comes from the Virginia ABC website which lists breweries that are legally licensed, paying state excise taxes and other government fees. Anheuser-Busch in Williamsburg, and MillerCoors in Elkton, also operate as breweries within the state, but are too large to be considered 'craft' under the definition of the (U.S.) Brewers Association.

  • 2 Since YFGF is located in the DMV, let's look at figures for the 'D' and the 'M' as well, where on-premises consumption at breweries is also allowed.
    • In the District of Columbia during 2014, beer accounted for:
      • $276.9 million dollars in direct economic impact. (51st out of 51)
      • Impact per capita: $293.10 (16th out of 51).
      • $69.2 million dollars in taxes.
      • 3,125 jobs.
      • 49th in the U.S. for number of breweries
      • 21st for breweries per capita (at 1.6 per 100,000 residents)
    • The total economic impact of the beer industry in Maryland during 2014 was:
      • $1.28 billion dollars in direct economic impact. (23rd)
      • Impact per capita: $157.66 (47th out of 51)
      • $400 million dollars in taxes.
      • 14,980 jobs.
      • 24th in the U.S. for number of breweries
      • 38th for breweries per capita (at 0.9 per 100,000 residents)

  • 3The list of winners is from Virginia Craft Beer magazine. (As of this post, the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest had not officially published a list of winners at its website.) I don't have the numbers for how many breweries actually entered, or how many beers were entered in each category.

  • For more from YFGF:

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