Deschutes To Build Brewery In Roanoke

A recruitment campaign that began more than four years ago and included a vigorous and unprecedented grass-roots crusade culminated Tuesday in an announcement that Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery is Roanoke bound.

A standing-room-only crowd at the City Market Building’s Charter Hall greeted the news with hoots and cheers, sustained applause and, ultimately, a group toast and the clank of beer bottles filled with Deschutes’ various brews, including Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Fresh Squeezed IPA.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Deschutes executives, including founder Gary Fish, announced Tuesday that the craft brewer plans to invest $85 million and build its East Coast production brewery on about 49 acres at the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology, a city business park off U.S. 460 in the vicinity of Blue Hills Golf Club.

That won’t happen for a while, though. Construction will begin in 2019, Deschutes said. The company expects to start shipping beer from Roanoke in about five years.

Fish said Tuesday that the project will require “a good two years of engineering and design,” adding, “We’ve got to make sure we can finance this thing.”

After Tuesday’s big announcement, Fish said, “things will go quiet for a while.”

City Manager Chris Morrill described Deschutes as “a very cautious, deliberate company.” He said he believes their selection of Roanoke “will be a good morale boost” that will help spur additional economic growth.

Deschutes reported it will hire 108 workers for the Roanoke brewery. The state will contribute $3 million from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a host of other incentives will sweeten the deal.

Deschutes had previously confirmed that the company also was considering sites in Asheville, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina.

“It was a good competition, but the best state won. You know why?” McAuliffe said. “Because Virginia is for beer lovers, folks.”

Fish said the Roanoke site won out as much for qualities that might be considered intangible as for tangible fundamentals.

“The tangibles are easy to compare,” he said. “We just felt like this place suited us best. The people, the place. We think this fits our entrepreneurial spirit and our sense of community.”

The brewery initially will produce about 150,000 barrels, with a design to increase capacity as needed. Fish said details about a companion brew pub will become clearer once the project approaches fruition.

Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, said the partnership’s first direct contact with Deschutes occurred May 25, 2012 — a contact that emerged, she said, from a broader campaign to appeal to craft brewers that launched in January of that year.

She said city officials, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and McAuliffe played important roles in landing the brewery.

The region’s grassroots campaign, Deschutes 2 Roanoke, played a major role, she said. Fish agreed. Michael Galliher, who helped lead that effort, received recognition Tuesday.

“I think the work of the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the city was important, but the community outpouring of support was huge,” Doughty said.

Michael LaLonde, president of Deschutes Brewery, said choosing the site was a tough decision. Like Fish, he expressed appreciation for the Deschutes 2 Roanoke campaign.

“We have absolutely been blown away with how the community rallied around bringing us here and has given us such a warm welcome,” LaLonde said.

Deschutes is based in Bend, Oregon, a community that, by its own description, evolved from “a sleepy lumber town to an international mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.” Deschutes started as a brew pub in Bend in 1988.

Deschutes officials said months ago that they sought an East Coast site that also emphasized outdoor recreation, an amenity that Roanoke Valley economic development and tourism officials began touting several years ago.

Doughty said “having the culture match in terms of outdoor amenities and livability” helped seal the deal, a reality she celebrated Tuesday.

“We have been focused on this project for four years,” she said. “We are totally invested in it. It’s really gratifying to see a plan come together.”

Taken From: Roanoke Times (Link)