A Goochland brewery is going into what its owner is calling a “winter hibernation,” though it’s unclear when it’ll reopen.
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery ceased operations late last month on what owner and CEO Lisa Reynolds Brotherton said was a temporary basis.
The farm brewery’s hiatus is due to health issues Reynolds Brotherton has been facing, namely her recent diagnosis of a rare immunological deficiency.
“My health has, unfortunately, just taken my complete focus,” Reynolds Brotherton said in an interview this week. “The quality of the brand is everything to me.…It’s not something I just want to limp along when I can’t be there to make sure everything’s running as it should.”
Reynolds Brotherton said she’s hoping to reopen Lickinghole in the spring or summer, but that she doesn’t want to make promises she can’t deliver on.
She said she’s weighing options for finding someone else to potentially step in and run the business, but she doesn’t know whether that would involve bringing someone in as a shareholder or just in a managerial role. The brewery already has four other owners who hold a minority stake.
“It’s definitely a situation where I’ve got to find somebody with an equal passion who can step into my shoes,” she said. “I’ll still be involved but I have to be in a much smaller role.…I’m open to any suggestions right now for how to plan it out. ”
Prior to its closing, the brewery had been operating with a staff of two. Reynolds Brotherton said the company is trying to help those employees find other work.
Named for the nearby Little Lickinghole Creek, the brewery opened in 2013 on over 200 acres in the Goochland countryside at 4100 Knolls Point Drive, about 40 miles west of downtown Richmond. Lickinghole also previously had expanded with a Shockoe Bottom taproom but closed it during the pandemic in 2020.
In 2017, Lickinghole received more than $500,000 in grants from the state to help fuel a planned $14 million expansion of the brewery and boost its capacity, but that project never came to full fruition. Reynolds Brotherton said Lickinghole wound up returning that funding to the state after deciding to focus on operating Lickinghole as a destination brewery, rather than a major manufacturer.
“We were more focused on the events that we’d been having with bringing music, focusing on integrating people, enjoying the outdoors and coming to the main location, versus quantity of beer going out,” she said of why the company changed direction after the deal with the state. “It seemed like it was not a logical investment to try to go for volume.”
Lickinghole did, for a time, find ways to send its beers outside of the Richmond region.
“A lot of our sales were to Canada, Sweden, Korea and Japan,” Reynolds Brotherton said. “Our focus became overseas as competition increased here.”
With all of the brewery’s operations now in a shuttered state, Reynolds Brotherton said her focus is on her health and finding someone to reopen Lickinghole.
“The biggest thing is finding somebody with the same amount of passion for the project,” she said. “I’ve got to focus on getting better now. I just need it to be… if I get sick, there’s somebody who can step in immediately for that time period.”
Lickinghole’s closure follows the permanent closures of Castleburg Brewery and Isley Brewing Co., both of which were based in Richmond. Isley wound up selling the recipe of its most popular beer, Choosy Mother, to a brewery from the Northern Neck, while Castleburg’s space near The Diamond is being taken over by another Goochland beer maker, Kindred Spirit Brewing.