Construction of Deschutes Brewery in Roanoke indefinitely delayed, says CEO

Plans first announced for the brewery in 2016

ROANOKE, Va. – Deschutes has officially indefinitely delayed building its new brewery in Roanoke.

The Oregon-based company initially wanted to break ground in June on the project, which would bring more than 100 jobs to the city and pave the way for more growth.

Deschutes CEO Michael LaLonde told 10 News Tuesday that there’s no timetable for the location.

10 News was the first to report the delay. It comes after the company said in November that its plans were up in the air.

Ahead of a March 31 deadline, LaLonde said Deschutes sent an update to the city of Roanoke Friday letting it know that it won’t meet deadlines for having design plans or for construction, operation or employment.

“We appreciate the support from Roanoke. Nobody is more disappointed than us that we’re not going to meet the original timeline,” LaLonde said.

The brewery in the Star City would be the base for all East Coast operations for the company and would be built on land the company purchased at the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology.

LaLonde pointed to the decline in the craft beer market as the reason the company is hitting pause on its plans.

“It’s been tough market conditions,” he said. “We were ‘go, go’ in Roanoke, but then the entire craft beer market started to slow down. So, it’s tough when things are not going as you expect.” 

Three years ago it looked promising. When 10 News visited the company in Bend, Oregon, in 2016, LaLonde told 10 News that “there’s a lot of runway left” in the growth of the craft beer market.

LaLonde told 10 News Tuesday, “2016 was actually the best performance we’ve had as a company."

Now, the company will focus on its plans in the Pacific Northwest and continue to monitor the East Coast market, including looking at sales for its beer and others at grocery stores.

He said if Deschutes builds a brewery on the East Coast, it will be in Roanoke.

Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell said the city is “disappointed” with the delay, but it understands and will stick with the company.

“I am heartened that they remain committed to Roanoke currently through support of local events and their tasting room,” he said in a statement. “The City is not interested in purchasing the property back at this time.”

LaLonde says business at Deschutes’ downtown Roanoke tasting room is going “extremely well.”

"We have a lot of fans from the community. We love the support that people give us. It’s performing better than our expectations so we’re very happy with it,” he said.

He said the company is optimistic about where it’s headed.

Deschutes will not be doing its street pub event again this summer in Roanoke or anywhere in the country, but it’s still participating in the big Go Cross event in Roanoke in August as well as events like GO Fest and FloydFest. 

It was March 22, 2016, when Deschutes announced its plan to build a brewery in Roanoke.