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Virginia has more breweries than N.C.; industry employs 28,000

RICHMOND. Va. – Eleven breweries opened in 2016, in the Richmond-metro area. That same increase seen locally is on pace with the state overall; Virginia is considered a leader in the nationwide craft beer boom.

Everyone knew beer was big in the Commonwealth, but Virginia’s Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) recently announced that Virginia is now home to 206 licensed breweries.

That means we have now moved ahead of neighboring state North Carolina, who has 20 less than we do.

It also means, as those in the craft beverage industry have said for a while, that a new economy has emerged.

According to the statistics from the governor’s office, a recent economic impact study shows that the beer industry contributes more than $9.34 billion annually to Virginia’s economy.

Recently three large West Coast craft breweries have migrated to the Commonwealth, in addition to major expansions by several Virginia craft breweries and local expansions by global breweries.

The number of breweries in the Commonwealth has more than doubled during Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration, though SB604 – considered the primary driver of the new beer economy – was passed by the General Assembly and signed by former Governor Robert McDonnell.

The state has seen a 468% growth in breweries/cideries since 2012.

A recent economic impact report by the Beer Institute showed that the Virginia beer industry employed over 28,000 people in production, distribution, and retail, and contributed nearly a billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2016. Excise and sales taxes on beer consumption contributed another $280 million to Virginia’s tax rolls last year.

“Governor McAuliffe has led the way in the promotion of Virginia’s beer industry, and the results are paying off,” said Dr. Basil I. Gooden, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “The beer industry continues to be one of the fastest growing divisions of the Commonwealth’s diverse agricultural industry.”

The trend has been good for the continued strength of the state’s top private industry — agriculture; with many craft breweries across the Commonwealth using locally-grown ingredients.

“The craft beer industry, both homegrown small production breweries and large out-of-state and international operations, has contributed significantly to our efforts to build and grow the new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “

Not only is Virginia producing more beer than ever before, but the beer is winning awards. This year 356 beers in 24 categories were entered into the Virginia Craft Beer Cup Awards and some local breweries won multiple categories. Ten local breweries won awards at the competition.