By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Downtown Granville will be getting a brewery. Slate Town Brewing, a start-up, has purchased 31 Main Street, across from Scotty’s, and plans to open before Christmas.
“We just closed on the building last week,” Susan Knapp told The Chronicle.
Ms. Knapp was married to Dan Wilson, the second-generation owner of the Hicks apple orchard. After a divorce that both describe as amicable, last summer she left the farm they’d run together for more than a decade, “and I had to figure out what I was going to do with this next phase in my life.”
She connected with business partner Glenn Wetherell, who is the head hard cider maker at Hicks’ Slyboro division.
Argyle Brewing’s offer
“We’ve been planning the brewery project for almost a year,” Ms. Knapp. “It was all in the business planning stage and scouting locations until about a couple of months ago, when things started to go real.”
The prod? Argyle Brewing Company in Greenwich was expanding and upgrading, and it offered to sell Slate Town the brewing system they stopped using.
“That was a great score,” Ms. Knapp said. The set-up is a four-barrel system that can produce as many as 550 barrels a year. That’s small, Ms. Knapp says, “but all of these local New York State breweries are using the same size system.”
Mr. Wetherell, the brewer, plans “to focus on New England styles, very hoppy,” Ms. Knapp said. They’ll likely offer “single and double IPAs, a pale ale, a saison, a stout” and a gluten-free IPA, she says, as well as non-alcoholic root beer, and rotating small-batch seasonal beers.
Their farm brewery license requires them to purchase rising percentages of hops and other raw ingredients from New York State producers.
Pub fare, indoor & outdoor seating
It allows them to serve their beers by the glass or flight without applying for a separate license, and they can serve food, other New York wines, hard cider and distilled products and bottled craft beverages.
They plan a small kitchen serving locally sourced pub fare and a beer garden out back in what is now an empty lot. They hope to have as many as 60 seats inside, and another 60 outdoors.
“It’s a cool urban building, brick building surrounded by brick buildings in a classic Upstate New York town,” close to the Vermont border and tourists on heavily travelled Main Street, Ms. Knapp notes.
They plan to have the brewing system visible to customers.
Ms. Knapp said that Washington County’s other craft brewers — Chris Castrio at Argyle Brewing Company, Jim Hume at Battle Hill Brewery in Fort Ann, Rich Taylor at R.S. Taylor Brewery in Hebron — “have been helpful. We know all the guys. It’s a supportive group of Washington County breweries.”
She said Black Dog Designs in Glens Falls is working on names and labels.
Ms. Knapp says she’s learned it typically costs $200,000-$300,000 to start a small brewery. “We’re at the lower end of that.’”
She expects to have as many as six employees in summer. They plan live music nights and tasting events, and maybe sell home brewing supplies and offer “beer education” brewing classes as well.
“I have a whole list of marketing ideas.”
If we don’t do this, someone will
Mr. Wetherell still works at Slyboro for now. Ms. Knapp says she is working full-time on the brewery.
She said they’ve thought for years about starting a brewery, including with her ex-husband Mr. Wilson, when they were still all together on the farm. “It never came together,” she says.
Mr. Wetherell, long a home brewer, was key, she said. “One day I just tapped him on the shoulder and said, a lot of people are speculating about putting a brewery in Granville. If we don’t do this, someone else will and how would you feel? He’d regret it the rest of his life.”
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