RICHMOND — With the governor’s mansion outfitted with a Kegerator and the West Coast craft beer guys decked out in their “good jeans,” the commonwealth of Virginia and Stone Brewing Co. announced Thursday that they had struck a deal.
Stone, the country’s 10th largest craft brewer, will invest $74 million to build a brewery, restaurant, garden and retail store in Richmond. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Virginia beat out 20 other states to land the deal, which is expected to add to the capital’s growing craft beer cred and create about 290 jobs.
McAuliffe and company officials announced the deal at a news conference that ended with the mansion doors being thrown open for an early afternoon beer reception. The governor jokingly lamented that he “had to drink a lot of beer” to woo the San Diego-based company to open its first East Coast outpost in Richmond, in a part of the city east of downtown.
The 200,000 square-foot brewery and distribution facility is expected to be operational in late 2015 or early 2016, with Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens opening one to two years later. The 30,000 square-foot restaurant will feature locally grown organic food as well as a large landscaped garden.
The company’s commitment to sourcing its ingredients locally will spur agricultural research and the production of hops, a “huge potential cash crop for our agricultural producers,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry.
When company officials came to Richmond to negotiate earlier this year, the governor entertained them with a Kegerator he had installed for the occasion in the 200-year-old Executive Mansion.
McAuliffe also served up a $5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, contingent on Stone’s procurement and use of Virginia-grown products.
All that helped Richmond lure what BeerAdvocate magazine twice dubbed the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth.”
Pat Tiernan, Stone’s chief operating officer, said he and other brewery honchos were so grateful that they dressed up for the occasion. “We wore our good jeans,” he told the mostly suit-and-tie crowd.