Brass Cannon Brewing to expand near Alewerks

Tara Bozick
Brass Cannon Brewing to expand near Alewerks

Toano-based Brass Cannon Brewing plans to become a larger player in the greater Peninsula craft-brewery scene by moving into a new space near Alewerks Brewing by March.

"Our goal is to make tasty beer — good delicious beer," said co-founder Phil Norfolk, of Williamsburg.

Brass Cannon started selling beer in April 2012 on a shoestring budget and "frankenbrew system" of used parts after three friends who homebrewed together — Norfolk, Scott Kennedy and Tony Artrip — took the plunge on making it a business.

"It was just cockiness," Norfolk said. "We thought we were making good beer. We wanted to share this beer with others."

Now, after three years of honing their skills, perfecting their recipes and slowly building up a loyal base of fans, as Kennedy said, Brass Cannon wants to take the next step.

The new 3,500-square-foot space at 5476 Mooretown Road will be twice the size of its current facility at 8105 Richmond Road. The new tasting room will be three times as large, and a 20-barrel system will replace the current 4-barrel system for expanded production capacity, Norfolk said.

While its beer fans helped grow the business with tasting-room sales, one businessman was such a fan he became an investor more than two years ago. Matthew Webb of James City, a fellow homebrewer, knew Brass Cannon needed room to grow. Webb said he plans to buy the building currently under construction and will lease it to the brewery under mutually favorable terms.

"Alewerks will be a quarter of a mile from us. We're really trying to capitalize on that as a tourist destination — a brewery destination," Webb said.

The upper York County location, across from Williamsburg Premium Outlets, is also more centrally located for folks on the Peninsula, Norfolk said.

Brass Cannon, named in reference to the area's Colonial history, also launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 by Dec. 10 to help deck out its tasting room, possibly with an actual metal cannon. Eventually next year, Brass Cannon plans to add outdoor seating as well, Norfolk said.

The current facility wasn't planned with a tasting room in mind, as the brewery opened just before Virginia starting allowing breweries to serve their beers on site in July 2012.

One of the taps in the tasting room will be "langrage line" — named for loading a cannon with whatever's on hand — meant for small-batch experimental brews, brewmaster Kennedy said. That allows fans to take part in the beer-making process by giving feedback.

The current facility will remain open until the new location opens, Norfolk said.

Eventually, the brewery wants to start producing enough craft beer to expand distribution, Norfolk said. Its brews are in select restaurants and stores across Hampton Roads. Its Angry Scot beer has been part of Busch Gardens' Food and Wine Festival and can be found at Hair of the Dog Bottle Shop in Williamsburg.

"I think craft beer is a big thing right now, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be successful," Webb said. "I think you'll see things pop up along the Peninsula."

For more information, visit

View the Kickstarter campaign here.

Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at

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