Slowdown schmoe-down! Opportunity abounds, according to slew of clips covering wave of expanding breweries and the net-benefits they provide to communities. Perhaps most eye-popping: ambitious Ohio comer Rhinegeist not only plans additional 155K sq-ft distribution facility in Cincy Camp Washington nabe, but founders also look to open 120K sq-ft medical marijuana cultivation center on same 17-acre site, according to Cincinnati Biz Courier. Medical cannabis recently ok’d in OH. So Rhinegeist founders Bob Bonder and Bryant Goulding look to launch separate Nature’s Apex co to grow and supply to fledgling market. Recall, Rhinegeist’s can’t-stop-won’t-stop attitude took its brewing biz past 56K bbls in just 4 yrs, starting up cider biz and self-distribution to boot. Now lookin’ to legal pot too. And neighborhood’s all about it, per Courier: both community development board and council green-lighting plans, tho support of additional groups needed before everything finalized. “Hamilton County is not going to stand in the way of allowing Rhinegeist to move forward with their business model,” commissioner said. Exec director of community development org wants a taproom too (natch) since “Rhinegeist is entering Camp at a time of great neighborhood renaissance,” as people looking for cheaper rent than popular downtown Cincy nabes.
It ain’t just Cincy touting small brewer taprooms as economic drivers in their communities. Look at tiny Petersburg, IL, town of 2200 folks outside Springfield, where Hand of Fate Brewing opened last yr. “After taking over an old Dollar General discount store in the sparsely occupied town square, the brewery-and-taproom has become a community hub and a catalyst keeping businesses open later,” according to Curbed story on “Craft beer’s big impact on small towns and forgotten neighborhoods.” Once Hand of Fate opened, “life was just injected into the square,” asst veep of Natl Bank of Petersburg said. Article surveys series of other breweries fueling new growth in rural and urban communities, “establishing a sense of place” often with support of local and state economic development groups. (Oh, by the way, 1-yr old Hand of Fate “already purchased another 2,500-square-foot facility” to expand operations.)
At same time, both Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe looked at expansion of brewery taprooms and replacement of neighborhood bars in their respective cities. Speaking of Chi-town, Empirical Brewery opened up a new restaurant (called “brewpub,” but no brewing on site yet) in Rogers Park part of town just last night, Eater wrote.Same source also told story of new Lucky Dorr pub/restaurant outside Wrigley field, with same ownership as Old Irving Brewing Co and plans to serve exclusive collaboration beers with at least 11 other area breweries. Elsewhere in IL, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co went opposite direction, expanding from brewpub to a $3.2-mil “banquet center, taproom and production facility,” per Belleville News-Democrat. That’ll take it from 3,000 bbls last yr to twice that this yr and as much as 10X that in next 5 yrs. Co already employs 170 at its 2 locations, plus a separate restaurant.
Up in Milwaukee, Sprecher Brewing hatched plans to expand its shipping container-cum-tasting room to other cities via licensing agreements. It’s got new small-scale pub built out of old shipping container at new Rock Sports Complex in nearby Franklin, according to Milwaukee Biz Journal. With cheap set-up of about $100K, co’s now looking “to expose more people to Sprecher’s products in a time where there’s heavy competition for shelf space in stores” by licensing brand and shipping container idea to other entrepreneurs, who’ll buy its products from its existing distribs, prexy Jeff Hamilton explained to paper. In Colorado, Denver Beer Co opens its new brewery/taproom with “a permanently parked Airstream trailer housing The Mighty Burger” this weekend in Arvada suburb of its namesake city, according to Denver Biz Journal.
Need more examples of communities gushing over breweries opening taprooms or expanding capabilities in the area? How ’bout Santa Fe: New Mexico Economic Development Dept kicked in $100K for Second Street Brewery’s $1.8 mil expansion “to increase their production and lay the groundwork for national distribution in the future,” Albuquerque Business First wrote. But can’t find anywhere more hopped up on new brewing bizzes than Virginia. Statement released by Gov. Terry McAuliffe notes importance of beer biz to “the new Virginia economy” not once but twice, including piggy-back comments from state Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Secretaries of Commerce and Trade, Public Safety and Homeland Security just as gung-ho. Also this week, Richmond Times-Dispatch noted numerous openings in area, including new downtown location opened by Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing. Same co also looking to pick up an old Unitarian Church in Norfolk to convert into a small brewery, Virginian-Pilot reported. A developer received $600K grant to build “the first brewery in the town of Bedford,” Virginia Business wrote. And Richmond-based Strangeways Brewing will open its second location in Fredericksburg in a couple weeks after spending $2.5 mil, according to the Free Lance-Star. Oo-de-lally!