ROANOKE, Va. - According to industry statistics, craft beer sales increased 6 percent in 2016. Most industries would love that kind of growth, but for craft brewers, the numbers were sobering.
In previous years, the growth rate approached 20 percent.
The slowdown could be one of the reasons Deschutes Brewery is examining its future in Roanoke.
Two years ago, it said it would invest $85 million to build a brewery in Roanoke. The move would create 108 new jobs.
The groundbreaking was set for 2019.
Now, Deschutes said it is examining the scale and timing of the project.
In a statement today, the company said, it will "adjust our plan of approach to the launch of our new facility."
Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell says he is still very confident Deschutes is coming.
"What they are doing right now is they are assessing how their industry's sort of evolving around them, and really using that time to figure out when they will end up here and what that investment level will be."
Cowell said he expects construction will begin in 2020.
Deschutes said it is committed to building in Roanoke. It is about to complete the purchase of the land for the future brewery.
Below is the full statement from Deschutes Brewery president and CEO Michael LaLonde:
“To demonstrate our commitment to the project and to the city of Roanoke, Deschutes will purchase the property at this time in cash to ensure we can build and sustain a viable, healthy business long term in our new east coast home. It’s no secret that the craft brewing industry is going through a period of market adjustment. In carefully and thoughtfully considering these market conditions, Deschutes must act with adjustments of our own with regard to the scale and timing of our investments.
“Our goals in Roanoke have always been to help build a burgeoning craft beer industry in the southeast and to contribute to the community through non-profit support and job creation. For these goals to be achieved and for us to remain a strong leader in the craft beer industry for many decades to come, the markets dictate that we monitor and analyze consumer activities closely over the next year and adjust our plan of approach to the launch of our new facility accordingly. We want to open our east coast doors knowing we’ll be a strong, lasting asset to the regional economy in the same way we have in Bend, OR, for the past 30 years.”
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