Riverside Sees Economic Potential in Craft Breweries

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Fermentation tanks at Packinghouse Brewing Company hold the Brewmaster's latest recipe

Adopts Policies to Encourage Beverage Entrepreneurs

August 29, 2012 – When a community seeks to attract start-up, high-growth companies, what could be better than finding a niche market that also inspires place-making, local branding, tourism, philanthropy and exports, all while creating local jobs?  Across the country cities and towns are finding this to be the case with local-grown craft breweries.

When Packinghouse Brewery opened their doors in 2010, they had visions of much more than just a business opportunity.  Located in a quaint industrial space near the Riverside Municipal Airport, the operators – Sam Stager, Tim Worthington and Master Brewer Matt Becker– infuse their business model (and beers) with their passion for Riverside and respect for its local heritage and character.  The result has been good for everyone.

“As proud Riversiders, we wanted Packinghouse to reflect the incredible character and potential of the community,” explained Worthington, “we want our name to be synonymous with Riverside, and our reputation to bring positive attention to the area and discerning, enthusiastic buyers into this market.”

Other local breweries – Inland Empire Brewing Company and Area 51 – also operate in industrial-zoned areas of Riverside, both with a similar fondness of and dedication to the local community.  Canyon Crest Winery is an example of a boutique winery that caters to the local tastes and clientele.  Local restaurants and pubs are benefitting as well, diversifying their beverage offerings with high quality options made right in Riverside.

Nationally, the craft beer industry posted a 15% dollar value growth in 2011 and 14% for the first half of 2012, according to the Brewers Association. In response to the potential that these burgeoning businesses can have on a community and a request from a forward-looking businessman, the Riverside City Council voted earlier this month to ease regulations on micro breweries, wineries, distilleries and brewpubs, allowing them to locate in more areas of the city and to open tasting rooms as a standard ancillary operation.

By being proactive and supportive of this growing niche of entrepreneurs, Riverside hopes to see more culinary and craft success stories.

Brad Wicks, the father of three local brewers and the driver of the zoning change, plans to have approximately 6000 square feet of space near Pierce and Magnolia set up as a micro-brewery, home brew supply and brew-on-premise facility, which will “allow for new home brewers to learn the craft and experienced brewers to test out their recipes using our professional on-premise brewing equipment, as well as sample recipes from other brewers”.

According to Wicks, “Riverside is ripe for craft breweries; the location, people, business climate and support for local artisans is ideal for this industry; we need to make it easier for aspiring brewers to enter this market.”