A Roanoke microbrewery is poised for growth as it begins to offer its signature brew in cans and expand its distribution throughout most of Virginia.
Roanoke Railhouse has offered its beers in 22-ounce bottles since the brewery was started in 2009. The bottles are available at Kroger, some convenience stores and some restaurants.
But brewery owner Steve Davidson said the bottles don’t appeal to everyone because of their size. Some restaurants that serve beer only in bottles won’t carry 22-ounce bottles, and consumers who want a single serving are turned off by the large size.
Davidson said he believes that canning his brewery’s signature beer, Track One, in four-packs of 16-ounce cans, will fill that gap.
He also touted other benefits of canning. Aluminum is a better light and oxygen barrier than glass, and it is more environmentally sound because it can be recycled easier and isn’t as heavy as glass so it takes less fuel to transport.
Davidson has contracted with Old Dominion Mobile Canning, a new company based in Glen Allen, to can Roanoke Railhouse’s beer.
The company will set up canning dates with Davidson and bring cans and its mobile canning machine to the South Roanoke brewery on a truck. At the brewery, the canning machine is set up near the finishing tanks and the beer is fed into the machine. Davidson’s crew will pack the beer and put it in cold storage until his distributors pick it up.
Davidson said he decided to work with Old Dominion because investing in his own canning system would be costly and take up valuable space.
The canning business will likely cut into the brewery’s bottle sales, but Davidson said he expects to pick up new business at retailers who wouldn’t sell the bottles.
Cans should be available in stores the first week of May, Davidson said.
At the same time, Roanoke Railhouse has teamed with new distributors to get its brews into stores and restaurants throughout the state. Roanoke Railhouse is also available in much of North Carolina.
The growth is expected to increase Roanoke Railhouse’s production needs by 20 percent, Davidson said. He is hiring two more brewers to help meet demand, he said.
Also in column, the owner of the Blacksburg and Roanoke Benny’s pizzerias are opening an new eatery in Radford on Clement Street. The oversized pizza shop began with Benny Marzano’s in Blacksburg. Last year it opened Benny Marconi’s on Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke. The Radford pizzeria, Benny Nicola’s, is expected to open by the end of the month.
Lastly, Promenade Park in southwest Roanoke County is getting a facelift. The Electric Road shopping center’s facade will be replaced, starting this spring. Work is expected to be complete this fall.