Possible microbrewery on tap for downtown Brookings

Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer November 09, 2012 08:54 pm

 

The Brookings City Council, acting as the Urban Renewal Agency, will discuss a conditional use permit that could bring a microbrewery to town.

The Urban Renewal Agency meeting will follow the regular city council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Government offices are closed for Veterans Day Monday.

Dave Faires and Nathan Heath of central California propose to open a microbrewery at 625 Chetco Ave., in the basement of 625 Wine and Tap Room, that replaced MoVino’s this summer. Tight Line Brewery hopes to start small and expand over a period of years.

 

Faires and Heath, both beer-brewing hobbyists for the past five years, said their growth will be incremental. They wouldn’t even technically qualify as a microbrewery, as those must make at least five barrels of beer. A barrel is 32 gallons. They currently make about three barrels.

“We’re not going to be making a lot of beer, but we’re looking forward to getting things going there,” he said. “We’ll be nano for a while. And there’s no competition; that’s pretty sweet.”

The two already make RIP Ale and Dog Hair Porter – both named after family members, the first their collective grandparents and the second a dog named Charlie. They’re trying to incorporate Max, Faires’ grandson’s name, into a 14 percent beer they’re crafting.

They don’t plan to do the “Friday-night karaoke thing,” Faires said, but cater to a family-oriented clientele.

But the conditional use permit fee stands in the way, and the two will ask the Brookings agency to waive the $2,574, which is critical to them getting started, Faires said.

Gary Milliman, executive director of the agency, said he had experience with a similar enterprise in Fort Bragg that started small and evolved to become a mini-brewery with more than 20 employees. Fort Bragg’s Urban Renewal Agency provided similar assistance, and Tight Line Brewery is pursuing the same model.

Brookings Urban Renewal Plan lists “providing low-interest loans and incentives,” and “assists in construction or expansion of job-creating facilities,” as appropriate uses of urban renewal funds. In this instance, Milliman wrote in a memo, payment of the application fee would serve as an incentive for the development of a start-up business.

Faires wrote in a letter to the agency that they have searched throughout the county for a properly zoned area in which to start their business. The conditional use permit fee is required because “beer brewing” is falls under “food production,” and that building is not currently zoned for that.

“The permitting process is very complicated and it has taken months to get this process moving,” Faires wrote. “It will be many months before we obtain the federal brewers permits, state liquor licenses and health permit and the city business license. We found that Brookings has the most expensive requirement of the process. This was not anticipated in our permit planning.”

Yet, he and Heath believe a brewery in Brookings could be successful, and cited the City of Eugene’s tax exemptions in the West Eugene Enterprise Zone.

There, two breweries – Hop Valley Brewing Co., and Oakshire Brewing – are moving into old buildings in what is informally becoming a “brewery district.” Hop Valley’s owners were quoted as saying they couldn’t have done it without assistance from the city’s Urban Renewal Agency. A third brewery, Ninkasi, just broke ground nearby.

“Microbreweries have proven to promote growth in other communities and, more specifically, in downtown areas,” Faires wrote. “A microbrewery promotes tourism, as many people enjoy traveling to different places trying new and varied microbrews. These individuals spend tourist dollars on food, lodging and gas within the city. We’d like to see the same effect in Brookings.”