Hampton Roads’ first Black-owned brewery, 1865 Brewing Co, opens its doors

Living Local

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Hampton Roads’ first ever Black-owned brewery held a grand opening ceremony on Friday.

1865 Brewing Co. recently opened in Phoebus after months of delays due to the pandemic.

1865 joins a growing number of Black-owned businesses in Hampton and across the 757. Only about 1% of all breweries in America are currently Black-owned.

Co-owners William Comer and Rodney Malone say they’re happy to set an example for the community.

“It’s exhilarating to feel that we’re finally open and really that we have some stake in a dominated industry,” said Comer.

The brewery, which also features a coffee shop, is at 9 S. Mallory Street and celebrates the history of America and nearby Fort Monroe, which served as a Union stronghold in Virginia during the Civil War.

Thousands of escaped slaves fled to Fort Monroe during the war, which became known as “Freedom’s Fort” and the “Ellis Island for African-Americans.” It also was the site where the first enslaved Africans were brought to English North America in 1619.

Owners said it was important to honor Black history in their neighborhood.

“We’re right here in Fort Monroe where the first slaves were free here,” said Comer. “It’s just so much history in this building and history in this area.”

Besides providing a space for the community, owners say it’s about showing the next generation to persevere and fight for what they want.

“It’s imperative that young people see that they can aspire to do whatever they want to do, regardless of what color you are, that’s not the point. The point is, is that keep your head down, work hard, get an education, and persevere,” said Malone.

The grand opening was from noon to 2 p.m. Friday with a ribbon-cutting. Its normal hours are 4-10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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