He says Pleasure House Road is named for a tavern that dates to the 1600s. Today, it’s home to a number of businesses including another brewery called Commonwealth Brewing Co.
O’Brien says it makes more business sense to try to sell more product onsite as opposed to the less margins-friendly sales that come through a distributor. Pleasure House distributes statewide with Specialty Beverage of Virginia.
“The distribution side of things is becoming increasingly tough,” says O’Brien. “To make money, you have to do a lot of volume.”
The number of breweries in Virginia has been on the rise since 2012 legislation allowed them to sell beer on site. The top independent craft breweries by barrels of beer produced annually include Star Hill Brewery in Crozet, Port City Brewing in Alexandria and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond.
O’Brien says a big market trend is demand for new products. He says the need for new packaging for new products can make it difficult to control costs.
O’Brien says he and co-owner Drew Stephenson launched Pleasure House in 2014 and today the company is profitable. O’Brien is a former employee of a craft beer bar, and Stephenson is a former teacher. Both were homebrewers before becoming beer entrepreneurs.
Pleasure House started with a 3.5-barrel brewhouse for mixing ingredients and 24 barrels for fermentation. Today, the brewery has a 7-barrel brewhouse and 49 barrels for fermentation.
Not including the owners, Pleasure House has one full-time employee and seven part-time employees. It will look to bring on more staff at its new location.
Elsewhere around the state, a new brewery is in the works for Richmond County.
Lindsay Himelright of Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate represented Pleasure House in the leasing of its new space.