Richmond, Virginia. Crossroads of I-95 and I-64. Home of the Confederate Capital during The War Between the States. Home to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, home to Mekong Restaurant, home to many other craft beer destinations, home to Stone! Stone would have felt welcome in many cities and states in the eastern half of the country. In the end they chose Richmond over other very qualified cities such as: Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk, Va: Charlotte, NC; and Charleston, SC. But Stone’s new location benefits many more communities than just the Capital of Virginia. The entire state of South Carolina benefits from what they named The Stone Bill, an act of legislation that would encourage established breweries from out west to be attracted to South Carolina. This bill allows breweries to sell beer directly from the brewery to the consumer (tap rooms and growlers). This is something Virginia just went through over the last three years. If not for the efforts of Kevin O’Connor and Mark Thompson of O’Connor and Starr Hill just a few years ago, Virginia would not have been a contender for Stone. With the passing of Law SB 604 in May 2012, tap rooms were allowed and people could finally visit and sample a pint and take home a Growler of beer from some great Virginia Breweries. Stone plans on opening a large Tap room, restaurant, and gardens to accompany their large production facility, so passage of these laws was crucial in their decision.
As a resident of Charlotte and native of Norfolk, I am a little disappointed to not have Stone moving in to my backyard. At the same time I am so grateful for everything they have done for Craft beer. Stone, along with Sierra Nevada, Avery, and a handful of other breweries will always be the forefathers of craft beer and welcome at any table. As I am writing this I am enjoying a Triple C 3C IPA from right here in Charlotte. A beautiful beer named for the three hops used in the beer: Citra, Chinook, and Centennial. I don’t know that I would be able to drink one of these tasty IPAs if not for what Stone has done. So what made me realize we didn’t need Stone here in Charlotte was that we already have Stone in Charlotte! Stone’s beers are available everywhere in the Southeast and their influence is obvious in almost every craft brewery! So, Stone is not coming here, but they are already here. They helped create here. Thank you Stone! Welcome to the South, the most hospitable place on earth. Cheers Richmond! We should all look forward to a craft beer road trip to Richmond in the not too distant future. And when you go, be sure to include breweries like Legend and Strangeways, as they could be the next Stone.