A San Diego-based craft beer brewer announced Tuesday that it will bring a new brewery to Botetourt County.
Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits plans to invest about $48 million to convert an existing building in the Greenfield industrial park into its East Coast manufacturing and retail operation. The expansion will create about 175 jobs.
“In our quest to provide the best quality, freshest beer to all of our customers, an East Coast brewery started to make a lot of sense to us,” Ballast Point founder Jack White said in a written statement.
Ballast Point is the 11th largest craft brewer in the United States by sales volume, and its move marks the second round of good news this year for a Roanoke Valley beer and recreation culture that for years has longed for a big-name player.
In March, Deschutes Brewery announced it will build its $85 million East Coast production brewery in Roanoke.
The dialogue with Ballast Point began in March 2015, when officials at the Roanoke Regional Partnership read in the news media that the brewer was considering a location in Virginia.
“I totally cold-called them,” said Ann Blair Miller of the partnership. “It was a good first conversation” that eventually led to a deal.
They were able to capture the attention of the West Coast brewer with an available building — a 259,000-square-foot former auto parts manufacturing building that is currently owned by Lawrence Transportation Systems.
Lawrence has other locations within Botetourt, and County Administrator Gary Larrowe said the company’s willingness to offer its Greenfield building was critical to the deal coming together.
“The location ticked all of our boxes from an operational and infrastructure standpoint,” said Ballast Point spokeswoman Hilary Cocalis. “Plus, the active and welcoming community is a great fit with our company and culture, and county and state officials have been great to work with on this opportunity.”
She said there isn’t a timeline in place as to when the brewery will be up and running. However, Ballast Point will have access to the building in September and Cocalis said the brewery expects to begin work soon after that. Part of the construction will include a tasting room.
Ballast Point has agreed to purchase the building, which comes with the necessary infrastructure as part of the Botetourt Center at Greenfield industrial park in Daleville.
The Greenfield park has sat largely vacant for more than 20 years, but saw a growth spurt this year that has been boosted at least in part by improvements in water quality for its tenants.
“We are able to welcome Ballast Point to Botetourt County because of the decision by the Board of Supervisors in 2015 to join the Western Virginia Water Authority. Without that partnership, we would not have been able to provide the quantity and quality of water demanded by this project,” Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Leffel said in the announcement.
Before Botetourt joined the authority, Greenfield was served by a system of wells that produced mineral-rich water too hard for many manufacturers. Water from the authority comes from the nearby Carvins Cove reservoir.
Ballast Point began in 1996 with a small group of home brewers in San Diego. It quickly grew into a company that employs more than 500 people at four facilities in its home city, distributing beer that is sold in more than 30 states.
The brewer makes more than 50 styles of beer and bottles more than 20 spirit products, according to its website. Some of its better-known beers are Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin IPA.
Regionally, the new brewery will have an annual economic impact of about $375 million and lead to the creation of about 540 secondary jobs, according to projections from the regional partnership.
The average wage for about 133 jobs at the brewery will be $41,075 per year. The 45 jobs on the retail side will pay $25,607.
Ballast point will receive a $2.4 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. The company also will be eligible for a $250,000 grant from the governor’s Agriculture and Forest Industries Development Fund.
Botetourt County will provide about $1.4 million in tax incentives, along with performance grants estimated at $650,000.
For the county, Ballast Point’s announcement was the third major economic development in just three months.
In March, Italian-based automobile parts manufacturer Eldor Corp. began construction on a $75 million production plant in the Greenfield industrial park, which is expected to employ 350 people over the next five years.
One week after the Eldor announcement came news that the Virginia Community College System will lease an existing building just down U.S. 220 for a systemwide administrative center. As many as 200 jobs could eventually be housed at the Daleville Center Drive facility, which will serve as the hub for human resources, payroll, information technology and other services for each of the state’s 23 community colleges.
With Ballast Point as its newest tenant, the Greenfield industrial park is nearing completion of its first phase. Construction of an industrial shell building is expected to start next month on a parcel across International Parkway from the Eldor site.
“We are excited by the opportunity we see in Botetourt County, and we’re looking forward to getting to know the local community as we get established there,” White said.
In November, Ballast Point was purchased by Constellation Brands, a major producer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Italy. With more than 7,000 employees and a list of brands that includes Corona and Negra Modelo, Constellation is the third-largest beer company in the U.S., according to its website.
According to people involved in the local brewing scene, a second large brewer’s arrival is something to celebrate.
Larry Landolt, the owner of Tour Roanoke, which has a local brewery tour, said the arrival of two large breweries could help the smaller breweries already here. He said people often travel to Asheville, North Carolina, to go to the Sierra Nevada brewery, but afterward they will want to go somewhere else.
“Rarely do people just want to go to one brewery,” he said.
Frank Moeller, the owner of Flying Mouse Brewery in Botetourt County, also said Ballast Point’s arrival could be good for local brewers.
“Anything that is going to give gravity to the Roanoke Valley as a craft beer destination is good for not just for us, but for everybody,” he said.
Joe Hallock, the owner of Chaos Mountain Brewing in Franklin County, said another large brewery helps to get more out-of-towners to come to the Roanoke Valley just for the beer scene, which is good news for him.
“It generates traffic and tourism dollars,” Hallock said. “They aren’t just going to come here to go to one brewery, they will go to a lot.”
When he opened Chaos Mountain two years ago, Hallock said he never expected to see a large brewery like Deschutes come to Roanoke, much less two of them. The local brewery scene has thrived more than he anticipated.
“We’re on the way the becoming the Asheville of Virginia,” he said.
Deschutes officials also seemed pleased with the news.
“Ballast Point’s decision will have a positive impact on the community by providing new jobs and further building the beer culture in Virginia,” said Deschutes president Michael LaLonde in an email. “We think it is great to have more brewers in the area.”
Dechutes founder and CEO Gary Fish added, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Staff writers Duncan Adams and Tiffany Holland contributed to this report.