Chris Smith and Robby Willey started drinking beer together at the Green Leaf as William and Mary MBA students. 10 years later they are about to open The Virginia Beer Company right here in Williamsburg! The Virginia Beer Company is a craft brewery that will serve 8 beers at a time from its taproom and distribute their beer through local channels. They plan to open their doors at 401 2nd St, Williamsburg VA in the middle of March 2016. You can watch their Facebook page and website for updates:
Today Chris came to talk with us about their journey into the world of craft beer.
Chris and Robby met as William and Mary MBA students then went to work in corporate America. Several years later they decided to pursue more fulfilling careers by starting a craft brewery. In 2011 they joined the Brewer’s Association and in 2012 selected Williamsburg as the site for their brewery. While they had experience with home brewing they wanted a brew master with even more experience that they could work with to start a new brewery. They found Jonathan Newman at Sweetwater and spent over 6 months tasting and developing different beers. Jon completes their current team of three full-time employees at The Virginia Beer Company.
The local economic development authority was very warm and welcomed them and their business to the community. They planned on opening the brewery in 2014, but the right types of buildings weren’t available. They finally found and completed a deal for their current building in December 2014. After a year of building renovations and equipment installations they started brewing on-site in January 2016. They are currently on the 7th batch with hopes that the 8th will be ready for an opening on the weekend of the 12th or 18th of March. They have 8 taps and plans to brew up to 60 beers each year. Four of those beers could be year round and the can designs and distribution plan for them is done. Those four are an IPA, a citrus wheat, an oatmeal stout, and a dry-hopped rye.
What makes The Virginia Beer Company unique is their ability to have a brand new high-quality beer available each week. They can do this because they have invested in two separate two vessel systems and a quality control lab. That means every batch of beer is held on-site and tested for about a week to ensure its quality. So every week they plan on releasing a new beer to keep the taproom fresh and new while maintaining consumer favorites.
Taproom hours will likely be 2pm until 10pm, but check the official sites above for specifics. They are working on deals with local food trucks so that customers can get something to eat without having to go too far. I am now really looking forward to the middle of March.