Mike Isley knows pipes and HVACs. Now he wants to try his hand at barley and hops.
A plumber by trade and owner of Winter Plumbing and Heating in Chesterfield, Isley last week signed a lease for a 4,500-square-foot retail space in Scott’s Addition that will be the home base of Richmond’s latest entrant into the craft beer market: Archangel Brewing Company.
Isley, 49, has worked at his family’s plumbing business for almost 30 years and was looking for a new business to start when a trip to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery gave him a taste of the potential in the Richmond craft beer market.
“I was just in awe of what Patrick [Murtaugh] and Eric [McKay] had done in a new business,” Isley said. “I said to myself that if I can be half as successful as they have been, I’ll be happy.”
He immediately started home brewing and reading everything he could find online about the beer business.
Isley, who is in search of a brewmaster for Archangel, doesn’t pretend to be a beer expert, but he said his background has taught him about running a business.
“I don’t even call myself a home brewer,” he said. “But I know a little bit about business, and I see this as an opportunity.”
It’ll take between $150,000 and $175,000 to get Archangel up and running, Isley said, including the three-barrel brewing system and seven barrel tanks. That setup equals about 220 gallons of beer in the tanks at any given time.
“It’s all my money; I’m not looking for any investors,” he said. “I figured we’d start small without any debt and we could grow from there.”
He’s looking to open by the summer, pending approval by all the necessary regulatory bodies, and he plans to make a tasting room a big part of his business.
Isley said that he’s researching what kind of beers he wants to offer and that it will all come together once he’s selected his brewmaster.
“I want an artist to work for me,” he said, “someone who will push the boundaries of what’s out there now.”
Isley said his own preference is for stouts and porters.
Archangel will have plenty of competition. In addition to Hardywood, at least three other breweries – Ardent Craft Ales, Ajax Aleworks and Haxall Brewing Company – are in the works to open within the city limits. And three other breweries have cropped up in the surrounding counties, including Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, which is under construction, and Midnight Brewery and Center of the Universe, both of which are open.
With its space at 1715 Summit Ave., Archangel is joining a burgeoning retail strip in Scott’s Addition. Also on that block will be Lamplighter Roasting Company’s new location, a CrossFit gym and Richmond Cycle Corps’ bike shop.
Birck Turnbull, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer and an investor in the building leased by Archangel, said the strip is almost finished.
“Archangel was sort of the second-to-last missing tooth in the strip,” he said. “There is only one more storefront, and we’re talking to a marketing firm now about the space.”
The strip’s businesses will potentially have plenty of nearby residents to target as patrons. Almost 900 apartments are under construction or awaiting city approval in and around Scott’s Addition.
I feel bad for this guy. The Commonwealth is the least friendliest place for Breweries. The amount of money he has won’t even let him make it for a year. the average cost to get a small brewery off the ground is around 1 million dollars after all the licenses fees, space, equipment, not to mention the distribution fees, yeast licensing, and just having a stock of ingredients. There are a couple successful small operations in southwestern VA but they are only open limited days and were built on a different business model. They also had the luxury of having… Read more »
Hardwood isn’t successful? Please expand on this,I’d honestly like to know more. I would have guessed they were successful.
I agree that it is an expensive endeavor but surely breweries can be successful in Virginia. You don’t have to have as many bottles on the shelf as Miller to be successful, which must be how you are measuring. Brown distributing is doing wonders for this. The local bars in the city almost all have at least 1 Va beer on draft if not many more. I go to Hardywood every week. On any given Thursday through Saturday there are over 100 people there at least. Lots of bars in town would love to have this many people on a… Read more »
What about Strangeways? http://www.vacraftbeer.com/?p=6390
Hardywood is a very successful brewery and their beers are very sought out and highly rated. Midnight started on a shoestring and is also proving to be successful. Trae, the owner, just quit his full time job.
Mike Isley should get advice and help from those guys. the craft beer industry is very friendly and tight knit in RVA.
Best of luck to MIke!