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So when Willey and Smith decided they were ready to quit their corporate jobs to open a craft brewery, they looked at places like Northern Virginia, which had Wm looking to have a few drinks proven market for the product they wanted to create; Augusta, Georgia, with its built-in annual tourist draw of the Masters Tournament; and Blacksburg, Virginia, a lively college town with a desirable demographic for people looking to make and sell beer. As the two did more research, however, they realized that Williamsburg had favorable demographics as well, plus a growing population.
It, too, was an established travel destination in a ificant tourism corridor. Critically, it also offered something that entrepreneurs in the U. It is hard to imagine today, but as late as there were fewer than breweries operating in the U. Options for anyone seeking a fuller-flavored alternative were limited to homebrew clubs, import shops and pubs like the Green Leafe.
Bythough, the nation boasted 7, breweries, Domestic output overall fell by 0. In terms of dollars, craft beer grew by an enviable 7 percent. If you find yourself in the craft-beer mecca of Colorado, look for alumnus-run Beyond The Mountain in Boulder or check out Breckenridge Brewery, a national top-seller. Jimmy Loughran Jr. He returned to Virginia and served five years as a Newport News firefighter.
When he took on a second job, it was cleaning kegs at a brewery in Norfolk and learning all he could. Turns out he had a knack for brewing, which he developed with a career change and a job at the brewpub chain Gordon Biersch. That taught him how to be a better brewer, but he credits the lessons from college for helping him rise to the challenge in the first place.
At the smaller, consumer-focused Pilot House location that opened two years ago, they experiment with new hops, new yeast strains and new combinations of ingredients. That beer will be sold on site only.
It may or may not ever show up on the menu again. Craft beer fans are forever on the lookout for new tastes and the next new Wm looking to have a few drinks. To keep customers coming back, the Pilot House will probably release about 60 different beers this year, Loughran said. Neikirk is pretty good at making beer, too, and in one of his homemade IPAs won first place in an American Homebrewers Association competition.
Already he was toying with the idea of turning his hobby into a career, and he even worked on a business plan for a brewery while an MBA student at the University of North Carolina. It would not be until that he would get truly serious about professional brewing. Smartmouth opened its doors in November For this beer, the brewers really did turn the level up to nine, as in a walloping 9.
Neikirk hopes eventually to his wife, also named Chris Neikirk, in working full-time at the brewery. That will have to wait, perhaps until he is fully vested in the Norfolk Southern retirement plan.
In the meantime, the railroad company has moved its headquarters to Atlanta and is bringing the Neikirks along. But Neikirk says he will be back in Virginia after retirement, and will start spending some quality time in the brewhouse. After a couple of years, he moved to Colorado, which is a magnet for ambitious brewers. hood friend ed him out west, and soon the two men were looking for a place to start their own business.
Their most important requirements, Hixon says, were tall ceilings and affordable rent. They found a space in Boulder, not far from the local brewers guild, and opened the doors to Beyond The Mountain Brewing Company on Dec. Because craft beer is so prevalent in Colorado, Hixon says, getting shelf space in stores is difficult. Thus, Hixon and business partner Morgan Way focus on creating a fun atmosphere with live music and a continuously rotating mix of beers. Another fave Wm looking to have a few drinks a pale ale infused with passion fruit and guava.
IPAs are the top sellers, but the tap list includes Scotch ales, imperial stouts and a raspberry stout. Hixon and Way like brewing varying styles. Colorado also has legalized medical and recreational marijuana, introducing a potential competitor to the beer business. Hixon, though, says the products coexist just fine, and he sees people enjoy both.
Chatter among brewers now often turns to infusing beers with THC, the ingredient of pot that creates a high, and consumers have expressed interest as well. Growler sales — in which customers bring in their own container for a to-go fill — now for 15 percent of sales and appear to be growing. That was followed by a year stint in marketing and corporate communications for Ogilvy and Apple, also in China. Then he, too, climbed down from the corporate ladder to make his homebrewing hobby his job in his adopted homeland. They have the same small brew-pub that opened in and are preparing to open a new taproom in the city.
In a sense, though, Jing-A already has been part of the broader exporting of the American craft beer experience and its sensibilities. They were motivated to get into the fledgling business for themselves, and discovered a recently opened brewpub Wm looking to have a few drinks Breckenridge Brewery once they got back home to Colorado.
It was one of just three in the state at the time. Earlier this year, she and Todd met with lawmakers in Washington, D. That potential impact was multiplied inwhen Breckenridge was acquired by the craft division of global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev — part of a spate of high-profile takeovers that, while disappointing to some longtime craft fans, infused these growing businesses with needed capital, and a lot of it. So far so good, Terry Usry says. Todd was contracted to keep running the company for five years, and he and Anheuser-Busch InBev have already extended that.
Craft brewing is about much more than the liquid in the bottle, can or keg. That liquid is undeniably better than it used to be, but the business is defined by community in ways that makes it stand out in American industry. Take Willey and Smith of The Virginia Beer Company, two men whose friendship started in college but endured long after graduation. They built successful careers in the Washington, D. And then they decided to build something from scratch.
Three and a half years ago, the longtime college chums opened a brewery in an abandoned auto garage and now brew thousands of barrels of beer Wm looking to have a few drinks, selling it from Virginia Beach to Richmond and in an onsite taproom that is open six days a week. Virginia Beer also employs 14 people locally and supports other retail jobs. Smith and Willey are active in the Chamber of Commerce, the local economic development organization, and, of course, their alma mater.
As we learn of more we'll add them to our list below. Know of one not on the list? alumni. Staff Contact Media Kit Subscribe. Archive Listing. In the end, the location for The Virginia Beer Company really was an obvious choice. A frothy leap of faith Jimmy Loughran Jr. Building a brew: Jimmy Loughran Jr. It used to be about 10, but the marketplace has made its wishes known.
Reaching new generations Craft brewing is about much more than the liquid in the bottle, can or keg. Entrepreneurship feature.Wm looking to have a few drinks
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