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Gov. McAuliffe joins Hardywood West Creek for ribbon-cutting; grand opening date set

GOOCHLAND, Va. -- There are a lot of numbers behind the new West Creek Hardywood Park Craft Brewery -- a 60-barrel brewing system in a 55,000-square-foot brewery with a 4,000-square-foot taproom on 24 acres in Goochland -- but one of the most significant may be 28, the number of breweries established since the first Hardywood opened in 2011. At the time there were only three other local breweries; barely six years later there are 32 total, and that’s not counting local cideries.

On Monday, Jan. 8, Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined Hardywood co-founders Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh in a ribbon-cutting ceremony; the last one on the schedule as governor for staunch craft beer advocate McAuliffe.

McAuliffe was there in November 2015 for the ground breaking ceremony of the $28 million dollar project, which will add 60 jobs and triple their current output on Ownby Lane, starting first with 35,000 barrels of annual brewing capacity.

[Related: Take a look at the West Creek Hardywood facility]

The last brewery ribbon cutting ceremony for Terry McAuliffe, as governor of Virginia. Photo by Kate Magee

Though McAuliffe did not sign SB 604, which gave breweries the ability to sell beer for on-premise consumption without having a full-service restaurant, he has been a champion for the agriculture benefits of the resulting craft beer boom.

Hardywood, who helped lobby for SB 604, said that their commitment to incorporate local grains, hops, fruit and other products in their beer has made them the largest purchaser of Virginia agricultural products in the brewing industry.  For example, Murtaugh said 20 pounds of Casselmonte ginger was used in the first batch of acclaimed gingerbread stout; the last batch required 1,000 pounds of the Powhatan-grown rhizome.

Several years ago, Hardywood hired Kate Lee, a 12-year veteran of Anheuser-Busch, to oversee the quality assurance program, offering her experience as Hardywood increases production at the new West Creek site. Pedigreed brewers from New York, California and Oregon have joined the team of 60 employees.

Crowd at the new facility, which will open in April 2018. Photo by Kate Magee

The 60-barrel BrauKon brewhouse will initially be dedicated to brewing flagship beers Singel, Pils and VIPA, and its Virginia Roots series of beers brewed with Virginia ingredients.

The facility will include a public taproom, mezzanine, conference room, outdoor patio and beer garden, food truck plaza,bocce courts and a natural amphitheater for live performances. The taproom offers views of the brewing process, including the brewhouse, fermentation hall, quality assurance lab, ingredient processing area and packaging warehouse.

A soft opening is planned for February 2018 and the grand opening of the brewery will be April 6-8, 2018.

Hardywood joins three other Goochland breweries: Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Midnight Brewery and Kindred Spirit.