Over the last decade, the craft brewing industry has exploded into the market, now representing 12% market share of the overall beer industry. This growth has paved the way, not only for new breweries to open but also for existing craft brewers to expand, which is why the second stop on our Virginia Food and Beverage Media Tour, hosted by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, was Stone Brewing Company.
Headquartered in Escondido, CA, Stone Brewing Company opened its newest location in Richmond, VA in February of 2016. The first thing that a patron of Stone Brewing may notice upon arrival is the strong and sweet smell of hops that fill the tap room and retail outlet, located on the ground level of the production facility, in The Company Store. The strong aroma of brewing beer, coupled with the dark and rich atmosphere of the tap room, aren’t the only things that make Stone Brewing stand out. Many first-time patrons of the brewery may not know that it is part of an initiative to revive the Fulton area that was struck by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Stone Brewery is dedicated to making a difference and to impacting the neighborhood of Fulton. Its current and most anticipated initiative is opening its farm-to-table bistro in 2018, called the Stone World Bistro and Gardens. Stone Brewing hopes to bring the poverty-stricken area back to life, stating that the bistro will bring about 200 more jobs to the community, alongside the 64 employees the brewery has already employed. To date, the brewery has used almost all materials for construction that were left over from the hurricane disaster, as part of its re-purposing effort. Striving to maintain a goal of at least 98% landfill-free, the brewery has attempted to source all of the ingredients needed to produce its beer as locally as possible.
Many may also not know that Richmond, VA competed with 300 other counties to obtain the Stone Brewing facility. Along with the restoration efforts to Fulton County, the brewery cites the availability of those locally grown ingredients, and the impeccable water source running through Richmond, as the biggest reasons for deciding on the city of Richmond as a location. Stone is a 250 barrel brewhouse, producing 12 different brews a week, and 2,000 kegs of beer per day. They only make beer to sell it; all of their production is based on demand for the product. This, in turn, helps them control waste output, and Stone Brewing has implemented a practice of recycling all of its waste products. Consumers can look for 2017 and 2018 to be the year of Stone Brewing Company, as they tackle their biggest initiatives in Richmond to date. However, as we wait for the Stone World Bistro and Gardens to open, feel free to head to the new Richmond, VA tap room and try their best-selling beer, The Stone IPA.
The Food Channel toured Stone Brewing Company as part of an initiative sponsored by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.