Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coastal to Close Old Dominion Brewery

Well, it's been an on again, off again rumor, but it looks as if the end is nigh for Old Dominion Brewery in Ashburn, VA. Mid-Atlantic Brewing News reporter Gregg Wiggins posted this press release from Coastal Brewing, the Old Dominion parent company, to the DC-Beer mailing list:
For Immediate Release


DOVER, Del. (October 21, 2008) – Coastal Brewing Company announced today that it will consolidate its operations by moving all brewing to the company's state-of-the-art facility in Dover, Del. The decision means that the company's brewery in Ashburn, Va., will be closed in 2009.

Employees of the company's Ashburn brewery will be offered continuing employment at Coastal's main brewery in Dover. Those who elect not to transfer will be offered competitive severance packages upon the brewery's closure.

Coastal Brewing Company's full line of beers, including brands under both the Old Dominion and Fordham names, will continue to be brewed with the same care and ingredients, and will continue to be marketed and distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.

"Our number one focus is clear: to continue making the high-quality craft beers that beer lovers have come to expect from the Fordham and Old Dominion names," said Garry Williams, CEO of Coastal Brewing Co. "But to deliver on that promise, we have to make sure we are running an effective business, particularly in light of the current economic situation. Operating two breweries in such close proximity is not cost-efficient, nor is it environmentally responsible, so it's just good business sense to combine operations into our most modern facility."

Coastal Brewing Co. purchased Old Dominion Brewing Co., the Virginia-based craft brewer and brewpub operator with primary distribution in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States in 2007. As part of the deal, Coastal Brewing Co. assumed ownership, sales and marketing responsibilities for both the Old Dominion and Fordham brands, including Dominion Ale, Dominion Lager, Oak Barrel Stout, Fordham Copperhead, Fordham Helles Lager, Fordham Tavern Ale and others.

Sad news indeed. While there are some beer drinkers who claimed to have stopped buying Old Dominion beers once Coastal took over, Old Dominion was still a local brewer employing local people. It was just two weeks ago that the closing talk surfaced once again. At that time, an Old Dominion brewer posted to DC-Beer stating emphatically "We are NOT CLOSING, nor moving anything within the building at Ashburn to Dover, Delaware. We are here to stay, with a focus on our quality craft brewed beers." One has to assume the brewers and other staff in Ashburn were not part of the discussion.

All that being said, we have to keep in mind that a brewery is a business first, sentiments come second. If this move is what it takes to keep us supplied with Old Dominion beers, then that's fine. I recall all the huffing when Flying Dog moved from Denver to Maryland. That move has certainly proved beneficial to both the company and the consumer. However, unlike Flying Dog, there doesn't seem to be any true initiative by the Old Dominion owners to actually keep the brand alive.

1 comment:

  1. Quite the contrary, regarding keeping the brands alive. Our goal is to not only keep the brands alive but improve the brands quality as well as increase availability. Old Dominion has a rich heritage and a very loyal and sharp consumer base. We are well aware of the impact this decision has on the longtime Dominion drinker. However, with my explained vision in mind we could no longer stay in business operating 2 breweries. It's not economically feasible or environmentally responsible. Now that being said, many comments made about our company have been totally untrue and not based on fact. We don't believe in defending ourselves thru media, print or web. We believe the best defense is brewing high-quality brews. That is what we will continue to do. Have we made some mistakes, absolutely. Doesn't everyone and every company make mistakes. Isn't that how we learn to be better humans? Do we not believe that in order to succeed you need to have tasted failure. We are not above another. We are passionate people who care a great deal about our beer as well as our customers, retailers, wholesalers and employees. We are learning along the way. I urge all who have supported Old Dominion throughout it's amazing journey to give us a fair shake and judge us on the taste of our beer.



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