By Elaine Lidholm
Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia is now home to 206 licensed breweries, moving ahead of neighboring state North Carolina. A newly released economic impact study shows that Virginia’s booming beer industry contributes more than $9.34 billion annually to Virginia’s economy. Governor McAuliffe has announced the location of three large West Coast craft breweries to the Commonwealth, in addition to major expansions by several Virginia craft breweries, as well as local expansions by global breweries. The number of breweries in the Commonwealth has more than doubled during Governor McAuliffe’s administration.
“The beer industry is a significant economic driver that spans several sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and tourism,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am proud of the success we have had making Virginia a premier destination for craft brewers and consumers from all over the world. I commend our Virginia breweries for their hard work in making world-class beer, and for playing a key role in building the new Virginia economy.”
Virginia’s Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) has reported 206 active brewery licenses in the Commonwealth, a 468% growth since 2012, when the tasting room bill, SB604, passed the General Assembly. North Carolina ABC reports 186 active brewery licenses. 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. Breweries both big and small are high-profile markets for our agricultural supply chain, highlighting the quality of Virginia-grown ingredients to consumers across the world. Craft breweries across the Commonwealth are using locally-grown ingredients to shape the Virginia terroir. Beer tourism is a major driver of agritourism, especially in rural areas. These businesses are critical to the continued strength of Virginia’s top private industry – agriculture.”
“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. “In addition to the direct economic impacts of manufacturing, the industry generates increased tourism-related revenues, provides new production and sales opportunities for our agricultural producers, and enhances community revitalization and development efforts in both rural and urban areas of the Commonwealth.”
“Americans across the nation are beginning to understand how serious Governor McAuliffe and Virginia are about the craft beer industry,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The role of Virginia ABC in this time of growth cannot be ignored and I thank them for their ongoing role in overseeing licensing for these kinds of establishments. On behalf of ABC, I encourage everyone to enjoy themselves and to always make smart, safe decisions when it comes to alcohol consumption and to help us all promote public safety. I look forward to the continued growth of this industry and appreciate all of the hard work that has been done and will continue to be done in our Commonwealth.”