By Jeff Maisey

In 2018, New Realm Brewing Company acquired the gigantic, short-lived brewing facility of San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co. in Virginia Beach. The brewing capacity at that time was 40,000 barrels/year. 

New Realm had only recently opened its Atlanta headquarters, however, its quick thinking ownership saw an irresistible opportunity when Green Flash’s east coast state-of-the-art production brewery hit the auction block. 

Co-founding brewmaster Mitch Steele said New Realm wanted to be a Southeast brewery and the location in Virginia fit that near-term goal.  

Since 2018, New Realm has added several 100-barrel fermenting tanks to the facility to meet growing demand as well as for contract brewing, which Steele said accounts for nearly 20% of the brewery’s total output. 

Recently, New Realm purchased at auction — ironically from Green Flash’s San Diego location — ten 250-barrel tanks.  The fermentors were then trucked coast to coast. 

To find out more about New Realm’s expanded capabilities, I reached out to Steele for the following conversation. 


VEER: What was attractive about the Green Flash location in Virginia Beach? New Realm had only recently opened its headquarters in Atlanta.

Mitch Steele: It was a shift in plan for us. We hadn’t really been focusing on Virginia, but we were running out of capacity at our Atlanta brewery — our original brewery. 

We were just starting to talk about maybe building a production brewery, and when the Green Flash brewery became available we took a look at it and thought if we want to be a Southeast brewery then Virginia fits what we want to do. 

It was interesting. In the end it turned out to be a great deal for us and gave us a tremendous amount of capacity. It worked out really well.


VEER: After you acquired the Green Flash space did you build additional brewing capacity?

Mitch Steele: We added some 100-barrel tanks a couple years ago, just a few. We took four 60-barrel tanks to Virginia Beach that were originally destined for Atlanta. 


VEER: It’s my understanding that New Realm just recently added some significant capacity, true?

Mitch Steele:  That’s right.

The company that owns Green Flash put that whole brewery in San Diego up for auction. We were able to get ten 250-barrel tanks. We bid on them and won them. We brought them into Virginia Beach.


VEER: Was the acquisition of the new fermenting tanks based on increased demand and need for New Realm’s product line? Or is New Realm planning to expand into other markets and increased production will be needed?

Mitch Steele:  Our philosophy and our goal is to only sell beer in the states where we have an operating brewery and taproom. That has not changed. 

We ran out of capacity in the summer last year. That’s what really got us looking at this. There was some beer we wanted to brew but could not brew last year.

When these tanks became available we just decided to fill up the whole cellar because we figured we’d grow into them, and at a price-point that was pretty attractive. 


VEER: What are New Realm’s most popular brands in the Virginia market? Is Hazy Like a Fox your best seller?

Mitch Steele: Yeah, Hazy Like a Fox is doing great. It’s been a great beer for us for several years. 

We are seeing some increased volume with a beer called Tank Dog, which is a hazy Double IPA  that we do in 19.2-ounce cans in convenience stores. It is surprising how well it is doing. 

We have an American lager called Blackberry Smoke Lager, which is a collaboration with the rock band Blackberry Smoke that’s starting to take off.  We’ve got Tropic Dream, which is doing well as a seasonal beer.  

Then we have the old standbys. Euphonia Pilsner is one of our favorite beers. That one is continuing along at the pace it’s been doing. 


VEER: From your vantage point, what trends are you seeing in today’s craft beer market? Over the past three years lagers were gaining some steam, but hazy IPAs still seem to dominate, don’t they?

Mitch Steele: Yeah, I think that’s still the case. 

Lagers, pilsners…I’m seeing a lot of Czech lagers. A lot of small breweries are really increasing their focus on lagers. We’ve released a few new ones over the last year.

I think that’s a really neat thing because it takes people back to beer flavored beer.

IPA is still king. Hazy IPAs are still number one, but we are seeing a little bit of chatter out West Coast IPAs kinda coming back to the forefront. So we’re watching that. 

There are a lot of people doing N/A beers and non-beer products like seltzers, spreading their wings and branching out. 


VEER: I understand Bold Mariner Brewing Company has an arrangement with New Realm for contract brewing to produce it’s best selling brand. Is contract brewing part of your calculation in needing more brewing capacity in Virginia Beach?

Mitch Steele: Without speaking specifics about particular breweries because of confidentiality situations, contract brewing is a big part of our business. We have a lot of partner breweries that are brewing their beer with us. That’s something we see as an opportunity as things move forward. 


VEER: Would you say contract brewing accounts for 20% of your business?

Mitch Steele: Ummm, yeah, probably. 


VEER: Before the pandemic there was discussion of a New Realm satellite or brewpub opening in North Suffolk. Is that still a plan?

Mitch Steele: Yeah, that’s still being worked on. I don’t have the exact target date but I think it’s some time in 2024. 


VEER: Why open a second tasting room within the same market where you operate such a successful business?

Mitch Steele: Again it was an opportunity presented to us by the people who own our current building in Virginia Beach. They are building-out a shopping area that gives us an opportunity to operate a small brewery there and do some pilot brewing in Virginia, which right now we can’t do (in Virginia Beach). 

Our brewing team in Virginia Beach will be doing the brewing on that system. It’ll give them some creative freedom.

The site — at least the rendering — is absolutely gorgeous. It’s going to have a beautiful outdoor area and taproom.  


VEER: The live music series at New Realm in Virginia Beach really seems to be taking off. How do you see the music component enhancing the experience of visiting the brewery?

Mitch Steele: That’s been a really nice surprise. 

Tommy Keipe (GM) and Meaghan Jackson (Events Coordinator), in Virginia Beach, have been working with people to bring in some really good acts. It generates some really good excitement and gets a lot of people into our place. 

We’ve really enjoyed it as well. 

We’re not located right on the water, so people have to decide to come to New Realm. We thought this would be an extra incentive to bring people to our place and enjoy what we have to offer.