Loudoun boosting breweries as well as wineries
Loudoun County may be known as a destination for wineries — it has more than 40 — but it has taken a significant step in developing another alcoholic beverage industry, craft beer.
The mid-Atlantic’s first commercial hops-processing operation will open in Loudoun’s Lucketts community in October. Lucketts Mill & Hopworks will harvest and process hops, a key ingredient used in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
“Right now there’s not really a market for hops in a large-scale production model [in Virginia] because, if you can’t get dried hops that can be shelf stable, you can’t produce a consistent beer year round,” says Jonathan Staples, the owner of the 53-acre farm where Lucketts Mill will locate. He is also the co-owner of James River Distillery in Richmond.
Lucketts Mill initially will produce hops for gin made at James River Distillery. The processing facility eventually will supply other local breweries and distilleries, most of which now get dried hops from Washington state.
Staples is collaborating with the founders of a Maryland-based organic hops farm, Organarchy, to run Lucketts Mill.
Another Maryland hops farm, Pleasant Valley Hops, is investing more than $60,000 and expanding its acreage from three to 13 acres to grow hops for Lucketts Mill.
“This is the mission for Lucketts Mill & Hopworks, retain more areas for production while lowering the farmers’ overall investment,” Solomon Rose, co-owner of Organarchy, says in an email.
Staples is investing roughly $1 million in Lucketts Mill. To aid the venture, Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $40,000 grant from the commonwealth’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which is being matched by Loudoun County.
This summer, the Maryland-based brewery Flying Dog plans to open a location on Staples’ farm. Flying Dog is investing $1 million in the new operation, which will be known as Farmworks Brewery.
Buddy Rizer, Loudoun’s economic development director, says the development of Lucketts Mill is crucial in creating an infrastructure for the county’s farm-brewery industry. Loudoun has seen an increase in applications from people planning to start farm breweries since a new state law eased regulations on the industry.
Staples points out that within 10 miles of his farm, there now are eight breweries. “I think Loudoun is going to be a really exciting place beer-wise,” he says.