Mike and Lisa Hinkley, co-founders of Green Flash Brewing Co., along with Brewmaster Chuck Silva, recently gathered with Virginia State Senator Jeffrey McWaters, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones and Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms to officially break ground on the site of the brewery’s new location in Virginia Beach. The Oct. 13 groundbreaking ceremony marks the official start of construction to build the 58,000-square-foot Green Flash brewery, tasting room and beer garden in Hampton Roads.
“I’m pleased to welcome Green Flash to Virginia Beach,” said Virginia Senator Jeff McWaters. “As a legislator, it is rewarding when legislation you’ve worked on makes a visible and significant impact on industry and spurs job creation. With the passage of Senate Bill 604, Green Flash chose to take another look at Virginia and ultimately decided to make Virginia Beach its East Coast home. I am grateful for the investment Green Flash is making in our community, and I look forward to the grand opening in 2016.”
Last year, Green Flash staked claim on the 9-acre lot located at the corner of General Booth Blvd and Corporate Landing in the Corporate Landing Business Park. After going public with the news that Virginia Beach was the choice for the brewery’s East Coast location, Green Flash teamed up with Hampton Roads-based developer The Miller Group to proceed with land acquisition, design, permitting and more.
“After announcing plans to build our facility in Virginia Beach, we have been moving forward step by step toward breaking ground,” Mike Hinkley said. “We are entering the first phase of construction, focused on the layout and building orientation on the nine-acre lot. We want to be sure we are mindful of our impact on the immediate surroundings, so we are planning to incorporate the pre-existing landscape and trees into our spacious beer garden and will develop routes for smart traffic flow, accessible walkways and ample parking for guests. We extend many thanks to everyone in the community for making us feel welcome and at home from day one, and look forward to celebrating our opening upon completion of construction in 2016.”
The steadily growing demand for Green Flash beers on the East Coast prompted the need for a second brewery, and Virginia Beach was chosen due to its ease of access from all mid-Atlantic corridors as well as for its coastal landscape and cultural similarities to San Diego. Were Green Flash to open the Virginia Beach facility today, the East Coast brewery would produce and ship about 45 percent of its beer from Hampton Roads to the eastern half of the U.S. That number is expected to grow by 2016, and the Virginia brewery will allow Green Flash to cold-ship fresh beer via second-day freight. This means beer at its best, lower pricing at retail and a smaller carbon footprint.
“Most importantly, we will have the chance to further connect with our customers on the East Coast in the Virginia Beach tasting room and beer garden,” Lisa Hinkley said. “Our most powerful brand building comes when we are face to face with our customers and they can see, hear, feel and taste our beer at the source. It is then that they are able to experience our passion for brewing innovation and explore our craft first-hand.”
In addition to focusing on logistical planning for the 2016 opening, Green Flash has been busy making friends with neighbors in the area. On Oct. 12, Green Flash hosted its first Treasure Chest Fest fundraiser for the Tidewater chapter of Susan G Komen. Held on the site of the future brewery, the beer and food festival featured some rare Green Flash beer along with select brews from over a dozen area breweries, food from local craft eateries and live entertainment.
Green Flash brewing executives have also been getting to know local businesses, particularly their craft brewing comrades. Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva has spent much of the past year traveling to the area, working on successful beer collaborations with Virginia-based craft breweries, including Smartmouth and Devils Backbone.
“We already feel like part of this community of brewers because everyone has been open to the idea of friendly collaboration, says Brewmaster Chuck Silva. “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with many talented brewers in Virginia, and we have produced some solid collaborative beers. We plan to team up with the great brewers of Virginia for years to come and look forward to hosting our neighbors to brew at our facility in 2016.”
From a production standpoint, the new brewery will replicate the state-of-the-art production capabilities of the Green Flash headquarters in San Diego. The brewery’s interior footprint will follow the same plan with most equipment installed prior to opening. The fermentation tanks will be delivered in three phases: (1) 50 percent of capacity up front, with (2) 25 percent added as needed until (3) reaching the operation’s full capacity to meet demand. Upon opening, the Virginia Beach facility will employ 40-plus Virginians and represent $20 million of invested capital.
Green Flash is expected to produce 65,000 barrels (bbls) out of its San Diego brewery in 2014, and is expected to reach the California facility’s maximum 100,000-bbl capacity in 2016 – just in time for its official grand opening in Virginia Beach.