Are you going to have any food? What about tasting hours? And how many people will this building hold? Any raucous live events?
Those are the kind of questions that Brewery Fire co-founder Dave Palmer fielded from the City of Taneytown Planning Commission at its monthly meeting Monday, Sept. 24.
His brewery won’t serve food, though they’d like to see some food trucks operating outside, he explained. Tasting hours will be more expansive on the weekend and the building can accommodate between 50 and 75 people, Palmer continued.
They’d like to host some live events, though it’ll depend on city permits, he told the commission. “Maybe the occasional guy-with-a-guitar kind of thing,” he said, “nothing over the top.”
The commission unanimously voted to pass along a favorable recommendation to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals, as the board is preparing to hear a case on Oct. 17 that will determine whether the city grants the microbrewery a special zoning exception to operate within the downtown area.
“It’s a huge weight lifted,” Palmer told the Times after the meeting. “[Co-owner Jesse Johnson] and I have been doing this since January of 2016, looking for a home and trying to get over every hurdle to opening a brewery, and this is the first major step on that road.”
Taneytown Mayor James McCarron at the last Mayor and City Council workshop Sept. 5 raved about the business’ potential impact for the city.
The council was weighing whether to consider the zoning request, which would see the city allow the brewery to pay off its hefty water connection fee over a period of time — an offer they already extend to businesses in a separately zoned area of downtown.
“This is a destination,” McCarron said. “People will drive to this, I mean, they will go out of there way to come here.”
Brewery Fire, winner of the 2018 Carroll Biz Challenge and the more than $20,000 prize package, is poised to bring microbreweries back to the county. Palmer and Johnson, who was not at the meeting because of a conflicting commitment, settled on a location adjacent to Thunderhead Bowl and Grill on Old Taneytown Road.
For its part, the bowling alley supports its potential neighbor resoundingly.
“The bowling industry’s changed a lot,” Mark Kraus, Thunderhead owner and manager, said before the commission Monday. “Bowling in and of itself doesn’t exist the way it used to, we want people to come out for events.”
“I don’t feel any threat to us losing beer sales,” Kraus continued. “I think it’s going to bring more people to the area.”
The startup intends to implement a three-barrel brewing system (approximately 90 gallons) in a brewing area, have a tasting room and an outdoor beer garden, Palmer said, displaying a preliminary site plan — the brewers have not yet contacted an architect.
“Is there any odor or smell that you’d be exhausting outside?” James Parker, planning commission chairman, asked Monday.
There is a smell that typically emanates from a brewery, Palmer explained, but it smells a lot like baking bread: “It’s not an unpleasant odor, it’s just the smell of barley.”
Palmer also highlighted his LLC’s local ties.
“We are already partnering with agriculture in Carroll County: Every time we brew beer we give our spent grain to a dairy farm in New Windsor that are able to feed their sheep,” Palmer told the commission Monday. “We’re very community driven. We want to be a place that’s open to the residents and family friendly.”
Carroll County hasn’t seen a brewery open in almost nine years, despite the industry growing across the state and in Pennsylvania, he said.
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“We would expect in Taneytown, at least starting out, that it would [represent] hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic impact to the region,” Palmer said. “And somewhere between four and 10 jobs.”