Regions Southwest Virginia

New microbrewery breaks ground at Smith Mountain Lake

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Franklin County officials and business leaders broke ground Thursday on Sunken City Brewing Co., the county’s first microbrewery. The $2.3 million, 8,800-square-foot project will include a production brewery, tasting room and outdoor beer garden. It’s expected to create 20-25 new jobs within five years.

Sunken City, named after the villages that were flooded when the lake was dammed, will be located along Route 122 at Westlake Towne Center near Smith Mountain Lake.

“Franklin County is delighted to welcome a new business that diversifies our economy and provides a destination for residents and visitors at the lake,” Bob Camicia, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “Microbreweries are among the fastest-growing businesses in Virginia, and we look forward to increasing the diversity of our businesses in the county while providing a unique experience at the lake.”

Sunken City’s founder, Jerome Parnell III, owns the trademark and franchise rights to the lake area’s signature beer, Dam Lager, which has become popular among locals and tourists.  The brewery plans to start making Dam Lager and other beers in January, with a tasting room open to the public by the spring.

There are more than 40 breweries in Virginia, a 25 percent increase in the past two years. The Travel Channel recently named Virginia a top seven beer destination.

Once brewing begins in January, Sunken City will produce an initial volume of 1,000 barrels of beer; 65 percent in packaging, and 35 percent in kegs and retail sales. The company plans to expand to 2,500 barrels by the end of the second year and 4,600 barrels by year three, distributing outside the state. The plant will have a long-term capacity of 35,000 barrels per year.

The company’s brew master, Jeremy Kirby, is relocating from The Gottberg Brewery in Nebraska. 


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