Taproom Owner Addresses Selectmen

Buzzards Bay Brewery owner Bill Russell speaks to selectmen about his plans to open a taproom in downtown Buzzards Bay.

The first piece of a four-storefront block at the west end of Main Street could be open for business by mid-July.

Buzzards Bay Brewery, based in Westport, is looking to open a tap room that would serve beer and wine.

Brewery owner William H. Russell appeared before the Bourne Board of Selectmen Tuesday, June 11 and presented his plan for the new business, to be located at 85 Main Street. The store is one of four recently renovated by local developer Vincent P. Michienzi.

The original plan was to have a microbrewery/pub, Oak Bay Brewery, move into the space. That deal fell through, however.

Mr. Michienzi has now secured a deal with Buzzards Bay Brewery to open a taproom, which will serve beer and wine produced at its family business in Westport.

Asked about the demographics he expects his new business to serve, Mr. Russell said he anticipates it will be wide-ranging. Taprooms, he said, are more of a meeting place for everyone from families to single adults, as opposed to traditional bars. He noted that the brewery in Westport has one couple who comes once a week for the sole purpose of meeting new people.

“They purposely come with this intent of being social, being part of a community. It was not a part of our plan at first, but we’ve adopted it as we’re not just brewing beer, we’re brewing community,” he said.

Mr. Russell told board members that his family bought a farm in Westport in 1982 where they grow 80 acres of grapes and another 10 acres of grain. The farm also features a winery and a brewery, where he said they produce the products that will be sold at the Buzzards Bay taproom.

Mr. Russell said that he is in the process of securing his TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) license, and that could take up to 72 days from the date of application submission. He is in the process of forming an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) for the new business, which will allow him to apply for the TTB license, he said.

Once he has obtained the TTB license, he said, he can then apply for farm brewer and farm winery licenses from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Once all that has been secured, he would then come back before the selectmen seeking a pouring permit, he said.

“The state started allowing farmer series licenses to pour several years, so we can pour products we produce ourselves,” he said.

Mr. Russell said he was hoping to get a jump-start on conducting business in Bourne by applying for a series of single-day beer/wine licenses while the permitting and licensing process is underway. He added that he does not have a specific date when he would like to open, but hopes to do so by mid-July. Construction is still underway in the new space, he said.

Receiving a series of one-day licenses, he said, would be preferable to him coming in each week and asking the selectmen for another license.

“I don’t know if you’d be comfortable bundling them together, and how many you’d be willing to bundle,” he said.

Board chairman Judith M. Froman questioned whether the town had ever bundled licenses, and Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino recalled that the board had done so for Massachusetts Maritime Academy several years ago.

Selectman James L. Potter said the new taproom would have to come before the board of sewer commissioners, which Mr. Potter chairs. He said the commissioners would need to revisit the allocation for the building.

Mr. Guerino noted that the taproom would use fewer gallons than Oak Bay Brewery was expected to use. The town administrator added that the sewer commission had already appropriated 18,000 gallons a day to the building.

Mr. Potter continued to insist that the business needed to reappear before the sewer commission, despite Mr. Michienzi’s assurance that Buzzards Bay Brewery would use fewer gallons than Oak Bay Brewery because there is no on-site brewing taking place.

Ms. Froman said the selectmen could not make any decision regarding sewer allocation. That, she said, is up to the sewer commissioners.

But selectmen also assured Mr. Russell and Mr. Michienzi that going before the sewer commission was merely an administrative matter, and that it would not jeopardize the opening of his business.

“Thank you. I just want to get this guy open,” Mr. Michienzi said.

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