TUPPER LAKE - Two local men hope to open a small brewery in Tupper Lake's Junction neighborhood by next summer.
Mark Jessie told the planning board at a special meeting Thursday afternoon that he and Joe Hockey hope to start brewing beer on a small commercial level at a building his parents, Ernest and Rita Jessie, own on Balsam Avenue, a small, dead-end road just after Holy Name Church.
They plan to call the company Racquette River Brewing, Mark Jessie said.
Mark Jessie reads from his plan for opening a nano-brewery in Tupper Lake’s Junction neighborhood during a presentation to the planning board Thursday afternoon.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
The two men already own the equipment they will use to brew the beer: three 20-gallon kettles - a brew kettle, a mash tun and a hot liquor tank - a plate chiller and six 22-gallon fermenters.
When they first open, they plan to brew a maximum of 185 barrels per year. One barrel provides 31 gallons of beer. Jessie noted for comparison's sake that Sam Adams Brewery brews 6 million barrels a year, and Anheuser-Busch brews more than 100 million barrels a year.
"So we're talking 185 barrels a year," Jessie said. "Very small. Some people call them a nano-brewery. They're popping up all over the country."
It's a step up from homebrewing, which Jessie said he's been doing for more than 20 years.
They hope to brew four regular beers - a pale ale, an India pale ale, a wheat hybrid that's mostly wheat but with a little barley added, and a stout - plus regular seasonal brews.
They plan to have a small tasting room on site, where they'll offer 4-ounce tastes of their beers, plus retail space for bottled beer and merchandise. No food will be served at the site. They also plan to sell their beer in kegs and bottles at local bars and stores.
They intend to use as many local ingredients as possible, and Jessie said he has contact with someone he hopes will provide them with local honey and maple syrup.
Jessie said he's met with Mark Gillis, who plans to open Blue Line Brewery in Saranac Lake soon. He said they have close to the same plan, but Gillis' operation is bigger.
At the outset, Racquette River Brewing will employ two people: Jessie full time and Hockey part time. They plan to brew five days a week, with the tasting room and retail sales operating on Saturdays. They plan to try that set-up for six months and see if it works.
There will be no major changes or additions to the building, other than adding interior walls and a bathroom accessible to people who are handicapped. Water and sewer will need to be connected to the building from a short distance away.
The only waste will be spent grain, which usually goes to local farmers to feed their animals.
Jessie said he expects there will be parking for about six vehicles on the property, plus there's room on Balsam Street and on nearby Main Street for overflow parking.
The two men are applying for a special use permit, and town Planner Paul O'Leary said there will probably be a public hearing on the project set for late November or early December. Anyone within 500 feet of the business will receive notice of the hearing.
Jessie noted that he'll have to get state and federal permits for the brewery, too. He said he's gotten familiar with that process and will start applications as soon as he has planning board approval. Gillis is still waiting on his permits, which have taken longer than he expected.
Several planning board members hinted at Jessie their favorite kinds of beer so he can brew them. It seems the majority of the planning board members are big on dark beers - dark bocks and stouts.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.