Virginia is now for beer lovers.
Tourism officials are trying to bring more people to the Commonwealth with a new website promoting local breweries. This is the latest move that's boosting this growing industry.
Beer lovers all cheered when a new law went into effect earlier this month allowing all breweries to serve drafts on site. Local brewers say Virginia is now much more beer friendly and it's already paying off.
Right now business is booming for Eric McKay. He's one of the founders of Hardywood Brewery in Richmond.
"People enjoy the fact they can come out and get a glass of beer," McKay said. "It used to just be the assumption. People would come in and sit down at the bar and say, 'could I have a glass of this' and we couldn't do that."
But thanks to Senate Bill 604, he can. McKay's brewery even has a beer named after the bill that allows his brewery to serve beer without an attached restaurant.
Now big crowds of new customers are showing up at the brewery to get a pint. Before he could only sell bottles to other restaurants and stores.
"A lot of people come up that have not been familiar with us, definitely learning about us for the first time now," he said. "Traffic has definitely picked up."
Tourism officials have also launched a new page on their website. It allows beer lovers to find local breweries. That's helping more out-of-town visitors discover Hardywood beer for the first time.
"The passing of the bill leveled the playing field between us and breweries that do have restaurants," McKay said. "I think more than that, it leveled the playing field between us and breweries in other states."
Hardywood has gone from two guys with a dream to 18 employees in less than a year.
McKay says half of the new employees he's added are servers he's hired in the last few weeks. He says being able to serve beer has allowed his business to grow much faster.
"We never really realized how things could take off on the retail side just in terms of visitors coming out," he said.
The state has gone as far as naming August :Virginia Craft Brew Month".
The Travel Channel recently named Virginia one of the top seven beer destinations in North America.
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