Breweries in Fairfax County, like Mustang Sally, Fair Winds, and Caboose, may soon be facing more competition. Fairfax County officials voted last month to make it easier for new breweries to find locations that are outside the seemingly ubiquitous industrial park.

Until now, breweries in Fairfax County were only allowed to occupy areas zoned for heavy industry unless they received a special exception. However, the county just adopted new zoning rules that can allow breweries to open in commercial, as well as medium industrial areas. The county made breweries (as well as wineries and distilleries) into their own, distinct, principal land use.

The new regulations delineate breweries based on the volume of beer they produce. According to the new regulations, a “craft beverage producer” can produce up to 20,000 barrels per year.  Breweries located in commercial areas, like downtown Reston or Lorton, are limited to 5,000 barrels per year. So, I would expect we’ll start to see more brewpubs open in these areas.

The cheaper land and buildings of industrial parks will still be a favorite for the packaging breweries in Fairfax County, but with the zoning change, we’ll hopefully see some more varied locations that aren’t exclusive to the largest manufacturing operations, a category that doesn’t include most fledgling breweries..