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Beer me, Northern Virginia!

• A thirst for local, craft beer has swept the nation in recent years, and Northern Virginia has been no exception. In 2013, the market was home to nine breweries. Since then, 48 breweries have opened, including five in 2018 alone…but their locations may surprise you.

•The exurbs have led the charge in the rapid expansion of breweries. While representing only 16% of Northern Virginia’s population, Loudoun County is home to half the local breweries and the most of any county in the state – 29 total; there are 12,953 residents per brewery in the county. Behind Loudoun, Prince William County and the City of Manassas posted the second most with with 15 total breweries, equating to 32,899 residents per brewery.

• By contrast, Fairfax County, with 1.1 million residents, has only seven breweries or one brewery for every 163,143 residents. Meanwhile, millennial-rich Arlington County, with the most urban, walkable retail product in the market, has only two breweries or a brewery for every 114,562 residents, while the City of Alexandria also has two breweries, representing one brewery for every 76,756 residents

• What’s driving the discrepancy? The exurbs were ahead of the curve in amending zoning laws to accommodate the surge in demand for breweries. For instance, Loudoun passed legislation in 2015 allowing breweries as a use within an agricultural zoning district, fueling growth in farm breweries in rural, western Loudoun. The following year, the county permitted breweries in non-agricultural districts, including non-industrially-zoned parcels, paving the way for the spread of breweries in the more densely populated eastern half.

• Fairfax has lagged behind, but in 2017 passed legislation modeled after Loudoun and Prince William to allow the by-right establishment of breweries in not just heavy industrial zones but also in more customer-friendly retail and residential districts. Arlington has passed similar legislation.

• Looking ahead, as zoning creates a more even playing field for breweries around Northern Virginia, other factors such as real estate costs will likely continue to help the exurbs maintain their dominance in the region as the hub for breweries.

Source: JLL Research

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