Virginia is the oldest of the 13 original colonies and has a suitably rich history of beer, starting with Virginia resident and founding father Thomas Jefferson. After his presidency, Jefferson applied his mind to the art of making beer, which had previously been an undertaking of his wife, Martha, who sounds like a wonderful woman. Jefferson bottled his first batch of beer at his Monticello plantation in 1812.
Virginia’s beer history actually goes back even further than our founding fathers. In 1587, Virginia colonists brewed the first American ales using corn, and in 1607 the state was the first to get into imports (when the first shipment of beer arrived in the Virginia colony from England).
Virginia aims to keep that brewing industry thriving in the state. Last year at the Craft Brewers Conference, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership actually had a booth (the only state we saw). The state’s influence and encouragement is working. Here’s an example: Last year, Stone Brewing Co. announced that Richmond, Va.’s Greater Fulton community will serve as the East Coast center for its brewing operations. This massive project will ultimately include a brewing and packaging facility as well as a Stone Co. Store and destination restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens-Richmond.
To continue these success stories, the state is aiming to generate even more brewing business in 2016. From tax breaks for farmers to regulations concerning liquor sales, several bills are currently in front of this year’s Virginia General Assembly, hoping to entice more craft beverage makers in the state. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a whole list of them. Here’s three interesting ones:
SB 157: Virginia adjusted gross income; sale of certain crops to craft breweries.
Encourages farmers to grow barley, hops or wheat by exempting them from paying state income taxes on income from the sale of these particular beer ingredients to Virginia craft breweries.
SB 410: Alcoholic beverage control; consumption of samples by brewery tour guides.
Enables tour guides at breweries to consume limited samples of beer while conducting tours as part of educating the public about those beers being featured.
HB 859: Retail Sales and Use Tax; exemption for beer-making equipment.
Provides a sales and use tax exemption for machinery, tools and equipment used in the commercial production of beer and for materials for use in packaging the beer.
If SB 410 passes, expect us to find new jobs in Virginia. Jump over to the Times-Dispatch to see all the bills and acts being considered, plus an in-depth history of global brewing.