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Beer Boon: Craft Brewers Now Welcome in Prince William

Restrictive zoning ordinance amended

It is now legal to open a craft brewery in a shopping center in Prince William County.

In what seemed like a happy hour session, that last call of the night for the County Board of Supervisors was to amend zoning laws that once prevented small craft breweries, like Bad Wolf Brewing in Manassas, from opening in commercial or retail district.

Unlike bars or restaurants, most craft breweries stick to serving only beer. New legislation signed earlier this year by Gov. Terry McAuliffe now allows these small breweries that were once banned under Virginia ABC laws.

“We’re always trying to catch up with the market,” said Nick Evers, with Prince William County’s planning office.

Like small wineries, craft breweries are growing in popularity and have sprung up in Manassas City and Stafford County. Recently, Bad Wolf Brewery in Manassas chose to expand its operation in that city. But not before exploring their options to expand at Tacketts Mill in Lake Ridge only to be told no due to the old zoning law.

“We’ve already lost potential business in this development area,” said Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May.

Small craft breweries allowed to make 10,000 barrels per year, and are no longer restricted to being located in industrial zones in Prince William. For brew masters that grow their ingredients for their beers on farms with two acres of land or more, those breweries can make 15,000 barrels of beer per year, said Evers.

But it’s not all Miller time yet for the Supervisors on this issue. As the Board voted to allow small craft breweries, they also voted to revisit the issue to refine the language that states exactly what types of alcoholic beverages may be brewed in the county.

Chairman Corey Stewart, At-large, said the language in the new law does not address breweries that make alcoholic cider, or Mead, a drink rooted in ancient history throughout Asia and Europe made by fermenting honey with water.

“Yeah, it’s coming up. They make Meade,” said Stewart.

Craft breweries will be allowed to host beer tastings at their facilities but will need to obtain a permit for events with more than 100 people in attendance.

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