Beer brewer approved for CSA-type business

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jan 30, 2019

Belfast — A longtime home-brewer was granted permission to expand as a small brewery by Belfast’s Planning Board Jan. 23.

Arthur Curtis, who lives at 14 Hunt Road, will operate his business on an adjacent parcel he also owns, 18 Hunt Road. The brewery will not be open to the public or offer tours or a tasting room.

“We don’t want people randomly showing up at the brewery,” Curtis said, later adding, “We want to remain relatively exclusive to this group.”

He said he intends to follow a Community Supported Agriculture (commonly known as a CSA) model and offer 40 annual shares of beer. Each shareholder will receive a gallon of beer a month of two different styles, he said, which will be distributed in reusable growlers. No consumption by shareholders will take place on the property, and pickup times will be limited to two-hour blocks, one weeknight and one weekend morning, Curtis said.

Home brewers are allowed to make up to 200 gallons of beer per year, Curtis said, and small breweries jump to 50,000 gallons per year. He intends to make 720 gallons per year, he said, to fulfill the 40 shares and have 20 gallons per month as back-up. That’s the maximum his fermenters and recipes can put out every two weeks.

“We’re going through the process to become a small brewery,” Curtis said. “ … It will continue to be a hobby.”

Options for expansion are limited by the site, he said. The garage was built specifically with a small size in mind, around equipment Curtis already is using. Besides, he said, if he were to expand, “it might start to feel like work.”

Eventually, the second floor above the brewery will become living quarters, Curtis said.

He has already submitted several federal and state permits and established a limited liability company (LLC), he said. Part of the permitting process requires annual water testing and operational septic disposal. Curtis said he does not intend to post any signs and the parking area can accommodate up to eight vehicles.

He also is making efforts to be environmentally friendly, he noted. Solar panels help heat water used to make the beer, with supplemental propane. Grains left over after the process are given to a local pig farmer.

“We’re trying to be as green as we can,” Curtis said.

Planning Board members had few questions and only one person offered public comment on the application for the home occupation business, which was favorable.

Conditions that would trigger a new review of the use include expansion of the business, such as installing larger fermenters to brew more gallons of beer or adding onto the existing structure.

The home occupation permit remains valid as long as Curtis lives on one of the two properties. Planning Board members unanimously approved the new business.

 

 

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