Deschutes Brewery opening East Coast operation in Roanoke

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ROANOKE, Va. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that Deschutes Brewery will open a location in Roanoke.

Deschutes is investing $85 million, which will create 108 new jobs.

"Virginia is for beer lovers," McAuliffe said.

Deschutes Brewery is based in Bend, Oregon. Roanoke will serve as the brewery's East Coast operation.

"Today, Roanoke claims the prize," Roanoke Mayor David Bowers said.

The brewery will be built at the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology (RCIT), which is near Blue Hills Golf Corporation.

Virginia officials have been working for months to woo Deschutes, which also considered cities in North and South Carolina for the brewery.

Deschutes' announcement is a big win for Roanoke, which lost out to the Asheville area for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s East Coast brewery in 2012.

At the announcement Tuesday, Deschutes CEO Gary Fish said it wasn't the land or economic incentives that brought them to Roanoke.

It was, the people.

"Ultimately as we narrowed the field all the way down the final decision was more about where do we belong? And this is where we felt we belonged the most," Fish said. "We had some terrific choices, really truly terrific choices and we chose Roanoke."

It comes less than two years after California-based Stone Brewing Co. revealed plans to build a facility in Richmond.

Governor Terry McAullife said it not only required a lot hard work, but a lot of drinking, which probably wasn't a surprise after seeing how much Deschutes beer was brought out for the announcement.

"I went out to Bend, Oregon, I drank with them all night, we had them at the governor's mansion, we had a lot of fun but this is important," McAuliffe said. "Not only for the job, the 108 jobs, the $85 million investment but also it makes another addition to Roanoke as a why you want to come as a tourist destination."

The tourists are also what other local breweries are counting on.

"This is great news, it's good for everybody. They're going to bring thousands of people to Roanoke that are interested in beer and that can only help us in the beer industry so it's great news," said Big Lick brewery owner Bryan Summerson.

Deschutes Brewery CEO Gary Fisher also recognized the social media campaign of Michael Galliher. Galliher created a social media campaign called "Deschutes 2 Roanoke" about six months ago.

He's been talking about getting the community to rally behind the brewery ever since, but Tuesday he was speechless.

"This is absolutely amazing. I thought I could put words into my feelings and there's literally no words that I can say and that's rare for me," Galliher said.

Deschutes does not expect to break ground until 2019, and they hope to start brewing in 2021.

A trade group says Deschutes was among the top 10 craft brewing companies in the country in 2014, based on sales volume.