Norfolk hold rally to attract new brewery


by 13News Now

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 5 at 5:59 PM

NORFOLK -- Norfolk held a rally Friday to show support to bring a new brewery to the city.

The rally to make Norfolk the East Coast home for Stone Brewing Company was held during First Fridays Granby Street Party.

“We want Stone Brewery in Norfolk, and First Fridays is the perfect opportunity for Stone enthusiasts to gather, show support and have a great time,” said Mary Miller, president and CEO of Downtown Norfolk Council.

The California-based brewer has been looking to set up an operation on this side of the Mississippi. It narrowed its choices to Richmond and Norfolk as well as Columbus, Ohio.

The Norfolk Tides also threw their support behind the brewery on their facebook page Friday. 

"The Tides would love to have Stone Brewing Co. be Harbor Park's new neighbor," it read.  "Show your support for development around Harbor Park, new jobs, and of course, great beers! #‎BringStonetoNorfolk‬ ‪#‎StoneBrewingCo‬ ‪#‎HarborPark‬ ‪#‎nfk‬ ‪#‎stoneeast‬ ‪#‎norfolklovescraftbeer‬."

Johannes Speckheuer, Lead Cellarman at O'Connor Brewing Company, told 13News Now people from Stone Brewing stopped at Norfolk-based O'Connor during a visit to Hampton Roads.

"They've created, like, such a craft demand that we're feeling it here on the East Coast even though they haven't solidified anywhere yet," said Johannes Speckheuer. "We have, like, so much untapped people out here that are definitely hunger for it."

With craft beer in high demand, Speckheuer explained tourism created by breweries is huge throughout the Commonwealth. The arrival of Stone Brewing would be beneficial for that type of tourism. 

"At the same time it's competition, everybody's going to make out in the end because, like, more that they come in, the more people are going to seek them out. They're gonna find out about El Guapo or Great Dismal IPA that we brew, and then they might try to investigate," said Speckheuer.

Officially, Norfolk has not said where the company might locate if it comes to the city, but people from Stone Brewing toured a stretch of the Elizabeth River next to Harbor Park. Locating there would create an additional attraction in that area. It also comes with easy access to rail lines, interstates, and light rail.

"To me, it just takes us to another level. It just increases Downtown's energy," said Mary Miller, President of the Downtown Norfolk Council, referring to the possibility of Stone Brewing coming to the city. "To be selected as the site of an East Coast distribution center would really just put Norfolk on the map, and it would give the city and our downtown incredible name recognition."

The brewing company could bring several hundred jobs with it.

Downtown Norfolk Council’s First Fridays Granby Street Party on September 5 will include a rally to show support to bring Stone Brewing to Norfolk. The event will run from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 the 300 block of Granby Street. It will include a Stone Tap Takeover serving Stone beer exclusively. There also will be Stone swag giveaways and special Stone photo opportunities.

People also set up a Facebook page to let the company know they are ready to welcome it.

"Obviously, a major company coming into a city is gonna bring jobs. It's gonna bring investment. It's gonna bring revenue and taxes, all of which is good not just for Downtown. That's great for the entire city," Miller said. "Our downtown is growing. Our region's growing. I just think we have a lot of positives, and I think they could take advantage of that by locating here."

The City of Norfolk should know the company's decision in four to six weeks.