If you want to try some of the best beers America’s West Coast has to offer look no further than…the Mid Atlantic. Of course. Yesterday, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery announced plans to expedite its East Coast expansion by opening up a taproom in Roanoke, Virginia, this summer. The decision is part of an ongoing trend of successful western breweries putting a stake in the ground in states like Virginia and North Carolina.
Deschutes announced in March of last year that it was planning to open an $85 million commercial brewing facility in Roanoke, but with the brewer not breaking ground on that massive project until 2019, a tasting room seemed to be a good intermediate step. “Roanoke is home to us now and we wanted to put down some roots while we plan for breaking ground on our new brewery east of town,” Nate Brocious, the brand’s tours and tasting room manager, said in a statement. Tentatively scheduled for an August opening, the taproom is expected to feature more than 15 Deschutes beers on draft for onsite consumption or growler fills, as well as brewery merchandise and ready-to-eat food from local restaurants.
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Part of Deschutes desire to move things along in Virginia may stem from the fact that the East Coast has suddenly become an extremely competitive market for West Coast breweries over the past few years. Longmont’ Colorado’s Oskar Blues was the first major brewer to go bicoastal, opening a second brewery in Brevard, North Carolina, in 2012. Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing, one of the largest and most influential craft brewers, followed suit, opening its second facility in Mills River, North Carolina, in 2014. Last year, things continued to ramp up with three major brewers opening second facilities on the Atlantic: Escondido, California’s Stone opened in Richmond, Virginia; Fort Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium opened in Ashville, North Carolina; and San Diego’s Green Flash opened in Virginia Beach.
But Deschutes’ biggest competition will likely be Ballast Point who is also set to open a commercial brewery in none other than Roanoke. Though the San Diego-based brewer announced its plans two months after Deschutes, Ballast Point could see a soft opening for its taproom as soon as next month, with the brewery set to start churning out beer this summer. (As you may recall, Ballast Point was acquired by major beer and wine company Constellation Brands back in 2015 meaning the California brewer has plenty of finances at its disposal.) By getting its taproom up and running earlier than planned, Deschutes can theoretically avoid feeling like an also-ran in its own city. That is, until the next big West Coast craft brewer moves into town, which can happen pretty much whenever these days it seems.