Richmond had better be thirsty, because it’s getting another brewery.
Strangeways Brewing is preparing to open in an industrial property just off Staples Mill Road, not far from Willow Lawn. Neil Burton, who has been active in the local beer scene for some time, is behind the operation.
According to building permits filed with Henrico County, Strangeways is building out at 2277 Dabney Road, Suites A and B, which is about 8,400 square feet, according to floor plans on owner Brandywine Realty Trust’s website.
The property is across the street from the headquarters of Loveland Distributing, one of several local beer distributors with which Strangeways will consider signing a contract.
Burton was influential last year in getting a bill through the General Assembly that allowed brewers to contract with other breweries to produce beer. Previously, brewers had to own the real estate on which they brewed in order to sell their beer in Virginia.
Strangeways will be entering a fast growing local beer industry. Richmond has four craft breweries, three of which opened in the past two years.
Center of the Universe opened in Hanover County late last year, Midnight Brewing Company opened in Rockville last summer and Hardywood Park opened in Richmond in 2011. Legend Brewery in Manchester has been in business for 19 years.
Jacob Brunow, head of the craft and import division at Brown Distributing, said that Richmond brewers aren’t even close to saturating the market.
“If you look at a place like Asheville, [N.C.],” he said, “it’s a smaller city with a smaller population, and it has 11 breweries. And that’s really what we want to see in Richmond.”
Brunow said that 25 percent of the taps in Asheville’s pubs are local and state beers. In Richmond, he said, that number falls between 10 and 15 percent.
“Local [and Virginia] beers make up 2 percent of the total beer market in Richmond,” he said. “There is plenty of room to grow – especially in competition with import beers, because those are the more expensive.”