West Coast craft beer is coming east. New Belgium Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. are opening breweries and packing facilities in Asheville, N.C. Lagunitas Brewing Co. is opening a new brewhouse in Chicago. These are all aimed at expanding distribution and customers into new markets in the Midwest, East Coast and beyond.
Did we forget to mention Green Flash Brewing Co.? Well, last week, Mike and Lisa Hinkley, co-founders of Green Flash along with brewmaster Chuck Silva, attended the Annual State of the City address in Virginia Beach, Va., where Mayor William Sessoms Jr. formally announced that Virginia Beach is the location for Green Flash’s second brewery. After the Mayor’s speech, Green Flash hosted local press and officials for an official ground-staking ceremony on the 9-acre industrial plot located on the northwest corner of General Booth Blvd. and Corporate Landing Pkwy. — their new East Coast home.
The 58,000-square-foot Virginia Beach facility will employ 40-plus Virginians and utilize $20 million of invested capital. From a production standpoint, the new brewery will replicate the state of-the-art production capabilities of the Green Flash San Diego headquarters, which were commissioned in 2010 when the brewery upgraded from a smaller facility in Vista, Calif. To best duplicate the operations of its West Coast brewery, all brewhouse and fermentation cellar equipment will once again be manufactured by Paul Mueller Co. of Springfield, Miss. Ultimate production capacity will be 100,000 annual barrels (bbls).
Plans are to break ground later this year and to be open for business in 2015. As part of the company’s forward-thinking strategy, Green Flash is investing in production capacity ahead of demand to provide distributors, retailers and consumers with confidence that there will be adequate supply of West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red and other favorites as the company grows in popularity. In addition to increased production capacity, the new facility will provide freight efficiencies and fresher beer for East Coast consumers.
An expansive public Tasting Room, outdoor Beer Garden, retail store, extensive brewery tour program and large event space will provide customers with many opportunities to glean the great passion and commitment to quality that goes into the creation of Green Flash brews and to share in the Green Flash experience first-hand.
“The Mid-Atlantic region provided logistical advantages,” said Lisa Hinkley of Green Flash. “Virginia is a great place to do business, has a developing craft beer culture, and Virginia Beach felt like home.” Like San Diego, Virginia Beach is historically a military town and is celebrated for a vibrant local beach culture. Both cities are also thriving tourist destinations — Virginia Beach draws more than 5.5 million people during the peak summer season. While San Diego is known as a leading city in the craft beer movement, Virginia has a growing community of craft breweries and a developing craft beer culture.
Silva is committed to fostering camaraderie among his new local brewing comrades: “It is very important to be a positive contributor to the community of brewers and the beers produced in Virginia. As a San Diego brewer for over 15 years, I have observed how the city developed into a great beer town. Local brewers working together to improve each other’s products and advise on business acumen was a key contributor, and I will bring that spirit of teamwork with me to Virginia.”
Green Flash has established a $10,000 credit with White Labs of San Diego for the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Guild. The credit was created as a resource for Virginia’s newer breweries to engage in product testing. This important quality control step is costly for emerging breweries, but vital to their long-term success. All members of the Virginia Brewer’s Guild are welcome to begin using the credits immediately. Green Flash will also invite Virginia-based brewers the use of an in-house product laboratory they plan incorporate into the Virginia Beach brewery.