Stone Brewing Shuns Columbus for Richmond Expansion
Columbus beer lovers have been worked up for months about the possibility that Stone Brewing might grow their operations to the region with a $31 million expansion project. Local business and government leaders put together an impressive food-and-beverage campus package, and beer enthusiasts and local PR firms hosted events and produced social media buzz to showcase the strong following that the brewery has in Ohio.
Today, we’re learning that all that effort and excitement was for naught.
The Times Dispatch reported last night that sources close to the project are expecting Virginia officials to gather today to make the announcement that Richmond has secured the expansion project away from neighboring Norfolk as well as Columbus.
A local source close to the Columbus proposal also confirmed yesterday that they had not heard any updates from representatives at Stone Brewing in the past month, and took the “radio silence” as a strong indicator that the window for further working on a business deal in Columbus had ended.
While the news is certainly disappointing, don’t expect the local love for Stone Brewing to fade too much.
“While a lot of us in the area were really hoping we’d get Stone Brewing Company to open their east coast brewery in Columbus, for many reasons, I don’t think we’ll see much of a Stone backlash,” said Cheryl Harrison, Editor at Drink Up Columbus. “I think most people will understand this was a business decision, not a diss on the city, and that the beer many of us love from Stone will be the same brewed in California or Virginia… even if sadly, not in Ohio.”
Harrison says that landing the Stone Brewing facility would have brought national attention to the local beer community, but she says that it also would have overshadowed many of the smaller local breweries that are still working on growing and expanding. Some of those recent projects include the launch of Land Grant Brewing, the expansion of North High Brewing, and the large scale relocation and upgrade at the Columbus Brewing Company.
“Without Stone, our small breweries may have to work harder for national recognition,” she added. “But if and when they get it, it will belong 100% to Columbus.”
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