New brewery set to open at James City County Marina in the fall

Tjefferson@vagazette.com

Right now, the James City County Marina is surrounded by dirt and construction equipment but soon it will be a thriving destination for people of all ages.

"We're looking at doing things year around at the Marina," said county administrator Bryan Hill. "Events, Jamestown Jams, you name it. We're trying to make sure folks have a place to go to have fun."

One way the county is trying to provide fun at the Marina is by bringing in business.

The county board of supervisors voted to pass an agreement between the county and the economic development authority to fund part of the construction of Billsburg Brewery at their meeting in December.

Billsburg Brewery started off as a dream 10 years ago but with the help of the county, it will be a reality for owner Dave Baum.

"I decided a long time ago that I was interested in a brewery as a hobby, my wife Kristin bought me my own brewing kit from there grew a passion, then commercial grade equipment and that's when some other friends gave us some financial backing and then we started planning three or four years ago," Dave Baum said.

The five year lease for the brewery, located at 2054 Jamestown Road, was signed in August 2016.

The county will pay up to $500,000 and the EDA will pay up to $250,000, according to the memorandum of agreement. The money will be used for site improvements and construction, according to the EDA. The total cost of constructing the brewery was $1.1 million, according to Dave Baum.

The brewery is the first step for the county in its plans to renovate the James City County Marina.

Hill said through the Capital Improvement Plan, the county will fund $2.5 million worth of renovations at the marina beginning in fiscal year 2020. He said the first priority is constructing the marina and then the county will focus on renovations for the rest of the area.

"We talked with the county and just so happened that this space in the Marina was vacant," said Kristin Baum. "Not long after that we started thinking about the opportunity here. It's a great location to sit and drink beer."

Billsburg Brewery will join other breweries in the Williamsburg area including the Brass Cannon Brewing Company, Alewerks and the Virginia Beer Company. The city of Williamsburg also gace the go ahead for Amber Ox Brewery to open on Prince George Street.

Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, believes the new brewery will have a positive impact on tourism.

"We're very excited about Billsburg coming online," Riordan said. "We think it will absolutely increase and enhance tourism. We're very focused on food and beverage tourism, we are excited to have Billsburg open up and be part of that."

"I see this as venue that's unlike anything else in James City County," Dave Baum said. "Billsburg Brewery can be the anchor point that the future of the Marina is built around."

Baum said Billsburg Brewery has already hired a brewmaster and will have a feel distinct from the other breweries.

"We're a destination brewery. The location is a place where people can come and do different things ... we're surrounded by a number of tourist attractions in this area," Baum said. The brewery will be a quarter mile away from the Jamestown Settlement.

Baum said the brewery will specialize in German lagers.

"This environment allows us to complement someone's vacation to the Jamestown area," he said.

"What makes us different is the opportunity to do things outdoors," Kristin Baum said. "There's kayak rentals, bicycle rentals, there's also Jamestown Beach and the Capital Trail."

The brewery will be split into two buildings on 10 acres, one tasting building that will fit 30 people and one building for brewing.

Kristin Baum, who is the serving as the architect, said they are also trying to add an event lawn, where customers can stand outside, drink and mingle.

Construction on the property began in January and the brewery is set to open in September or October, according to Dave Baum.

"It's a dream that hasn't stopped yet," Dave Baum said.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
70°