by Tim Thornton
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. won’t confirm the news, but Montgomery County will not be the home of the California craft brewer’s first East Coast brewery.
“Montgomery County is no longer under consideration for the Sierra Nevada project,” county spokeswoman Ruth Richey said in an Oct. 27 email.
Online outdoor retailer Backcountry.com announced Oct. 11 that it plans to build a distribution center in the county’s Falling Branch Industrial Park. It turns out that was the site that Sierra Nevada was considering.
Sierra Nevada, which began brewing beer Chico, Calif., in 1979, is a leader among craft beers and talk of it setting up shop in the East has kept beer blogs buzzing for months.
News reports have said an East Coast brewery would employ about 100 people and bring an initial investment of as much as $100 million.
Reports have consistently put Montgomery County in second place among potential sites behind Alcoa, Tenn., south of Knoxville.
Sierra spokesman Bill Manley has been quoted saying as much, but he’s much less talkative now.
“We really can’t comment too much on our potential sites right now,” Manley said in an email in response to a question about the Montgomery County site. “We still have a handful of sites we are interested in and several states that are involved. We hope to have a decision made by the end of the year.”
Originally, a decision on the new site was supposed to come in August, then in mid-fall. The company has said it may not build in the East at all.
Meanwhile, Montgomery County officials are excited about Backcountry.com, which operates 10 websites selling more than 1,000 brands of outdoor clothing and equipment.
The company, which will reportedly invest more than $20 million in its distribution center, received a $300,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. It also will get help from the Virginia Department of Business Assistance.
“Backcountry will be bringing more than 200 jobs along with its investment,” Richey said. “It also fits in really well with all of the outdoor activities available here with the mountains, trails and New River.”