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Farm Brewed

Bill could clear a path for Virginia's next beer trend.

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Sean-Thomas Pumphrey approaches local brewing a bit differently: He grows his own ingredients on a 220-acre farm in Goochland. But he soon discovered that doing things differently didn’t quite mix with state regulations.

“It’s a little confusing,” Pumphrey says of navigating the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control rules.

He and his wife, Lisa, opened Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery last year. Among the most frustrating regulations, he says, is that they’re forbidden from building a house on the farm because it’s a brewery.

So they’re pushing for new legislation that would create a farm brewery category within state law. Essentially, Pumphrey says, it would allow farm breweries to operate similar to Virginia wineries. “We’re trying to make it easier for farm breweries to open in the Commonwealth,” he says.

The bill passed the Senate last week and now is before the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.

Virginia’s growing brewing industry, especially in Richmond, successfully changed state law in 2012, allowing breweries to offer on-premise tastings like wineries do and sell beer for consumption on site.

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