Governor McDonnell Signs Legislation to Support Virginia Craft Brewers

RICHMOND – Governor McDonnell today signed two pieces of legislation to support Virginia craft brewers at the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. House Bill 359 (McClellan) allows manufacturers to lease space in their brewhouses to smaller-scale brewers and Senate Bill 604 (McWaters) allows retail sales of beer and sampling on the premises of Virginia breweries. The governor was joined by legislators, brewers from around the state, distributors, representatives from the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, representatives from the Virginia Manufacturers Association, commissioner of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Neal Insley, and representatives from the Virginia Tourism Commission. After the bill signing the governor helped unveil a new logo for craft beer from the Virginia Tourism Commission “Virginia is for craft beer Lovers.” Virginia currently has 44 licensed breweries.

Speaking about the legislation, Governor McDonnell said, “This legislation positions Virginia’s craft brewers to grow and create more jobs in the Commonwealth. From Arlington to Abingdon, entrepreneurial Virginians are innovating and brewing critically acclaimed beers. The legislation signed today will make it easier for our breweries to serve as destinations for potential customers and allow some of our talented small-scale brewers to lease space from established brewers and overcome some of the significant start-up costs. I would like to thank Senator Jeff McWaters and Delegate Jennifer McClellan for their leadership as patrons in the House and Senate in passing these important bills. Growing Virginia’s craft breweries will grow Virginia manufacturing, agriculture and tourism jobs.”

Eric McKay, co-founder of Hardywood Park Brewery said, “Senate Bill 604 is a landmark bill for Virginia’s craft brewers and for its manufacturing industry at large. Fueled by a passion for quality, innovation and unique flavors, a focus on local ingredients, a commitment to community philanthropy and a dedication to environmental sustainability, Virginia’s craft brewers are significantly empowered through Governor McDonnell’s unprecedented support. SB 604 will, without question, create a substantial number of hospitality and manufacturing jobs, generate significantly greater sales tax revenues, increase tourism, attract new and expanding craft breweries to Virginia, support local agriculture, and enhance Virginia’s food and beverage culture. We commend Governor McDonnell for identifying this opportunity for economic growth through greater liberties to productive and responsible manufacturers.”

Brett Vassey, President and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association said, “The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is honored by the support of Governor McDonnell, Senator McWaters and Delegate McClellan. SB604 and HB359 will support innovative brewing and expanded opportunities for Virginia’s brewers. These bills represent a golden opportunity for economic development in the Commonwealth and we are incredibly proud of the burgeoning craft beer industry.”

On May 5, the winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup were announced in San Diego. Five Virginia breweries won medals, competing with 3,921 beers from around the world.

Category 6: Herb and Spice Beer, 80 Entries
Bronze: GingerBread Stout, Hardywood Park Brewery, Richmond, VA

Category 8: Coffee Beer, 56 Entries
Bronze: Coffee Stout, Rock Bottom Arlington, Arlington, VA

Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale, 48 Entries
Silver: Blue Reserve, Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA

Category 35: Vienna-Style Lager, 41 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA

Category 70: Extra Special Bitter, 49 Entries
Silver: GAR Pale Ale, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA

Bills Signed Today

SB604 (McWaters) Brewery licensee retail and samples

  • Allows a brewery licensee to sell at retail the brands of beer that the brewery owns at premises described in the brewery license for on-premises consumption and in closed containers for off-premises consumption. The bill also allows these licensees to offer samples of the brewery’s products to individuals visiting the licensed premises, provided that such samples shall be provided only to individuals for consumption on the licensed premises and only to individuals to whom such products may be lawfully sold.

HB359 (McLellan) Terms under which licensed brewery may manufacture beer

  • Requires the ABC Board to adopt regulations prescribing the terms and conditions under which a licensed brewery may manufacture beer pursuant to an agreement with a brand owner not under common control with the manufacturing brewery and sell and deliver the beer to the brand owner
  • Will allow current manufacturers to lease space in their brewhouses to new or smaller-scale brewers
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