Dirt Farm Brewing Company owner and Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Chairwoman Jannell Zurschmeide is joined by Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Matthew Lohr (left) and Governor Glenn Youngkin (right).
By Jeff Maisey
Governor Glenn Youngkin continued the tradition of hosting a gathering of Virginia’s craft brewers on the front lawn of the Executive Mansion for the annual proclamation of Virginia Craft Beer Month.
Following the event, the Governor granted us a quick interview to discuss beer.
Virginia Craft Beer Magazine (VCB): During your recent speech issuing the Virginia Craft Beer Month proclamation, you shared a personal story where the future First Lady told you (on your first date, I believe) she liked football and beer. Given the season, why in your view do football and beer go hand-in-hand?
Gov. Youngkin: Football and beer go hand-in-hand, it’s an American tradition that the First Lady and I know and love.
VCB: Do the two of you watch football and share a beer at home?
Gov. Youngkin: Yes, on our very first date the First Lady admitted she loved beer and a football game. I’ve never looked back since.
VCB: Without naming a specific brewery, what beer style(s) do you and the First Lady enjoy?
Gov. Youngkin: It’s like asking me who my favorite child is….all Virginia beer styles are our favorite.
VCB: As a businessman turned governor, what are your overall impressions of Virginia’s craft beer industry?
Gov. Youngkin: The craft beer industry is an incredibly valuable contributor to our local and statewide marketplace. As a development site for jobs, investment, and commodity, the industry gives way for comprehensive economic expansion.
VCB: Can you share your views on how Virginia’s craft breweries are having a positive economic impact on tourism, job growth, restaurants and lodging?
Gov. Youngkin: The craft beer community continues to be one of the fastest growing economic benefactors for the Commonwealth’s agriculture, tourism, and beverage industries.
Virginia’s farmers have fostered a new kind of connection with consumers, giving them the ability to create more job and business opportunities with their continued success.
Outside investments and additional craft breweries reinforce the Commonwealth as a prime location for business. And of course, more visitors are traveling from out of state to try some of Virginia’s best in class brew.
VCB: What ways can your administration help craft breweries expand and enhance these areas of Virginia’s economy?
Gov. Youngkin: Supporting local businesses, creating job opportunities, and offering opportunity for expansion in the marketplace have been day one priorities. To accomplish this, we recently awarded our Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund grants to three craft beverage companies across the state. The AFID program supports agribusinesses of all kinds, including our homegrown and national craft breweries.
VCB: In Virginia’s past, the alcohol industry was somewhat limited in how it operated. Today, we see entire families — dogs included — on a Saturday during lunch enjoying a beer, taco and conversation at a local craft brewery much as Europeans have done for decades. What are your impressions of the family and sense of community aspect of Virginia’s craft breweries?
Gov. Youngkin: With burdensome pandemic restrictions behind us, the reemergence of local business has cultivated a newfound sense of hope across the Commonwealth. This is evident in the craft beverage sector when we see families, friends, and customers gathering at our local breweries.
The craft beverage sector exemplifies the Spirit of Virginia; fostering hope, opportunity, and community.