Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What’s Next for Starr Hill Brewing?

It's been less than a year since Starr Hill Brewing in Crozet, Virginia signed a distribution agreement with Anheuser-Busch. By all accounts, this arrangement continues to benefit both the brewery and craft beer lovers. Starr Hill beers are available in Fredericksburg now and seem to be quite popular. The Daily Progress in Charlottesville has published an interview with Starr Hill founder and brewmaster Mark Thompson. In "What’s next for Starr Hill", Mark talks about their plans to increase production capacity, the current and future distribution plans, and some new products in the works. Mark also touches on the tourism aspect of the business, something I've discussed on this blog previously.
Q. Any plans for a new restaurant?

A. Starr Hill currently operates a tasting room that is open to the public every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. with tours of the plant at 1 and 3 p.m. The tastings are free and individuals can purchase cases and kegs for take out. We have experienced success with the Saturday tastings for several reasons. First, there is a large tourist trade that comes to Virginia to tour the wineries, and having a brewery on the itinerary makes a lot of sense. Second, Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County and the soon to open Devils Backbone Brewery near Wintergreen will give our region a real beer trail for the first time ever.

With the success of our Saturday tastings, the existing wineries, the new breweries, we have seriously considered doing more retail than we currently do. We know that there is a lot of interest in the retail side of our business and that having people out to the brewery to touch and feel the brand provides real value to our mission. We struggle with the fact that we are first and foremost a manufacturer and that retail is a side business.

Another idea that we have been kicking around is to do more special events at the brewery. We are in the process of looking into doing selected special events at the brewery that center around music and beer. At the end of the day when someone thinks of Starr Hill, we want them to think of beer and music. The thought would be to do an event like an Oktoberfest with a regional band.

Great to see this local brewery doing well. As more craft beer lovers nationwide are exposed to great beer coming from Virginia, the Old Dominion will continue to develop as an exciting craft beer destination. Read the entire article here. I really liked this quote from Mark:
There are very few things in this world that cross all religions, races, colors and creeds like beer. Every culture on this planet has a fermented cereal grain beverage that they gather around to celebrate their culture’s rites of passage. Starr Hill is here to fulfill the mission of the celebration of life.

Related links:
Blue Mountain Brewery
Devils Backbone Brewery

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