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First Black-owned brewery in Hampton Roads celebrates grand opening

The owners of 1865 Brewing Co. said roughly one percent of breweries are minority-owned.

HAMPTON, Va. — The first Black-owned brewery in Hampton Roads is officially open for business.  

1865 Brewing Co. celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting Friday afternoon. The brewery is located on Mallory Street in the Phoebus area of Hampton. 

Owners William Comer and Rodney Malone originally planned to open in 2020, but pandemic-related issues postponed their debut more than once. 

Credit: Eugene Daniel WVEC
Dozens of people attended the grand opening of 1865 Brewing Co. in Hampton on July 30.

"We decided to open in the middle of a pandemic, so it is hard to get supplies and equipment and stuff like that," said Malone. 

Less than one percent of breweries nationwide are minority-owned, said Comer. 

"It's a big thing," he said. 

Credit: Eugene Daniel WVEC
Images of historic moments in Black history hang on the walls of newly opened, 1865 Brewing Co. in Hampton.

The significance is certainly not lost on them; neither is the rich history for Black Virginia in Hampton Roads. The brewery is located within minutes of Fort Monroe, where the first documented Africans arrived to North America more than 400 years ago. 

"I think it's very important that we remember our history," said Malone. 

All throughout the brewery, Black history is etched in its fabric, including photos of significant historical moments.

It's named "1865" to honor the abolition of slavery, with the passing and ratification of the 13the Amendment, as well. 

Credit: Eugene Daniel WVEC
1865 Brewing Co. held its grand opening Friday after months of delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want to make sure people understand it is for everyone, but this is our history, too," said Malone. 

The venture wasn't easy by a long, but the journey was worth it. 

"You should never give up," said Comer. "Perseverance is key." 

The brewery is open Wednesday through Sunday on 9 S. Mallory St in Hampton. 

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