Champion hands over beer distribution and licensing to North Carolina company

A Charlottesville brewery that launched in 2012 and spawned a restaurant group will now have the bulk of their distribution conducted by a North Carolina “beverage platform” called Bevana. 

“All of the breweries’ distribution will now be handled by the platform, alongside their ever-growing portfolio of independent craft partners,” reads a press release sent out Tuesday.

Ten people have been laid off according to a spokesperson for Champion. 

Bevana, formerly known as Community Brewing Ventures, is based in Newton, North Carolina. The company markets and distributes products that are created elsewhere.

“At Bevana, we help independent beverage makers to create more of the drinks that you love, and connect them with our retail, distribution, and e-commerce channels to let you find and enjoy them,” reads a section of their website.

Bevana’s master brewer is Levi Duncan, who helped launch Champion. 

Last November, Champion announced a merger with Reason, a brewery that opened in Seminole Place in 2017. The idea was for Champion to move its production facilities from Broadway Street in Albemarle County to the larger space. Reason’s taproom will close at the end of the year. 

Champion was one of the first breweries to open in Charlottesville to take advantage of a new law that allowed agricultural producers to operate tasting rooms outside of local zoning controls. A taproom opened on 6th Street without a commercial kitchen and relied on food trucks. The company later began offering its own food. 

Around the same time as that, CEO Hunter Smith began to branch out to additional locations and into food service. The Champion Hospitality Group opened several restaurants such as the Champion Grill in Stonefield, Saison Brasserie on the Downtown Mall, and Siren in the Vinegar Hill Shopping Center below Stapes. Passiflora was opened in the former Commonwealth Restaurant and Sky Bar. In 2020, the Champion Ice House launched in Gordonsville in partnership with chef Craig Hartman.

Both Champion Grill and a Champion brewery in Lynchburg have both closed within the past few months. 

The taproom on 6th Street will remain open and will continue to brew beer. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the December 15, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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