Anheuser-BuschMid-AtlanticOld Dominion

The Other Shoe Finally Drops On Old Dominion…

The news of Old Dominion’s impending closure has finally hit the Internet beer sites and I doubt many are surprised. For several months or more, the question of closing the brewery’s Ashburn location has only been one of when, not if. And the only sub-question was, “How long is the company’s lease?” Not quite two months ago I wrote of the closing of the brewery’s pub:

I think at this point the real question for Old Dominion fans is what will become of the brands and the brewery in the future. As Coastal runs another brewery in Dover, Delaware*–one that is large enough with expansion to cover all the company’s brands–the inefficiencies of running two small facilities will inevitably lead to a consolidation of production. As the company’s corporate parents are located in Annapolis, and the pub is now closed, it’s not difficult to see where things are headed. I don’t know how long Old Dominion’s lease on the property runs (a sufficiently long time I would venture from Coastal’s attempt to salvage the pub) but I wouldn’t expect Old Dominion’s Ashburn brewery to remain open any longer than Coastal can control.

So today it was announced that in a “consolidation” of brewing operations, co-owner Coastal Brewing Company will move all brewing operations to the company’s facility in Dover, Delaware, in 2009. At least for the moment, Coastal claims that its full line of beers, including brands under both the Old Dominion and Fordham names, will continue to be brewed, marketed, and distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. This position isn’t likely to continue and the deal, which gave Coastal access to the distribution system of its new partner, Anheuser-Busch, is even more of a head scratcher now then when it went through last year. In the press release, Coastal specifically name-checks the Dominion Ale, Dominion Lager, and Oak Barrel Stout, so I’d expect to see these continue. And Coastal may continue a few seasonal products, perhaps the Octoberfest and the Millennium Barleywine, but I’d get ready to say goodbye to more than 3/4’s of the brewery’s products.

With the closing of the Ashburn facility, Old Dominion’s story really comes to an end. I’ve enjoyed many good times and beers in Ashburn and am sad to see the brewery go, although the passing was a slow and painful one. One thing is clear out of this situation: Virginia is in strong need for a regional brewery and it’s open season for brands from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other nearby states.

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