Friday, November 06, 2015

Farm brewery a rising success in rural Virginia

What started out as a hobby to brew beer for local farmers has turned into a burgeoning business for the owners of Rising Silo Brewery, located outside Blacksburg, Va., Robby Korth reports for The Roanoke Times. The small-batch operation, owned and operated by Greg and Jess Zielske and landowner Pat Bixler, began a few years ago when the owners gave away beer to local farmers at Glade Road Growing—which grows and sells organic products locally—in exchange for feedback on the beers. (Times photo by Matt Gentry: Brewer Greg Zielske)

A 2014 state law assisted the business by creating "a new limited license for farm breweries that make less than 15,000 gallons of beer per year," Korth writes. "The new law gave (Greg) Zielske an opportunity to sell craft beer to the public without also opening a restaurant. In the past, every establishment that sold alcohol also had to sell food. So this spring Zielske took advantage of the new law and began selling his products with little fanfare at a bar he built himself. And it’s been a success largely because of the trendiness of the business."

Rising Silo has succeeded with no advertising, relying on social media and word-of-mouth, Korth writes. And word-of-mouth has been strong. On a recent Friday night at Glade Road Growing’s farm stand, about 60 to 80 people, ranging from Virginia Tech University students to senior citizens, enjoyed the festivities. Rising Silo is right at home on the 48-acre Glade Road Growing property, where there are several other agriculture-based small businesses that use the space to farm, said Bixler. (Read more)

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