In Bourne, the sale of recreational marijuana may be verboten…but not beer.
To that end, the growth of microbreweries and craft beer tap rooms in Bourne is on the rise.
One microbrewery and one tap room are about to open on Main Street in Buzzards Bay, adding to the business renaissance underway in the Growth Incentive Zone. Another microbrewery already has opened on the other side of the canal in South Sagamore.
The microbrewery on tap for Main Street, Oak Bay Brewery, plans to open in the former Asacks Footwear store at 140 Main Street.
Oak Bay initially was slated to move into one of the four stores located at 85-93 Main Street at the west end of the downtown business district.
Microbrewery owner Brian Poulin said he was going to lease space from local developer Vincent P. Michienzi, who has renovated all four stores on that block, but the negotiations fell through.
However, now Mr. Poulin has a new agreement in place to lease the former Asacks store. He announced the deal June 25 on his company’s Facebook page.
Renovations are scheduled over the next several months to transform the building into a brewery. In an email to Bourne Selectman Peter J. Meier, Mr. Poulin expressed his enthusiasm for being a part of the renaissance underway in Buzzards Bay.
“We are excited to have found a new location in Buzzards Bay and are once again looking forward to becoming a key player in the revitalization of Main Street!” he said.
The pending Oak Bay Brewery location will be just a stone’s throw away from where Mr. Poulin initially planned to move in.
That space now is slated to become the location for the Buzzards Bay Brewery. The Westport-based winery and brewery is looking to open a tap room, a place where a brewery sells its own beer, at the Main Street location. Buzzards Bay Brewery will serve beer and wine produced at its family business in Westport.
Brewery owner William H. Russell appeared before the Bourne Board of Selectmen June 11. Mr. Russell said he expects his new business to be more of a meeting place, as opposed to a traditional bar, for everyone from families to single adults.
Mr. Russell’s family has a farm in Westport that grows 80 acres of grapes and another 10 acres of grain. The farm uses the crops to make the products that will be sold at the Buzzards Bay taproom.
Mr. Russell said that he is in the process of securing all necessary licensing and permitting from the state. Once everything has been secured, he would then come back before the selectmen seeking a pouring permit, he said.
Both Mr. Poulin and Mr. Russell will have to appear before the Bourne Board of Sewer Commissioners to secure wastewater allocations.
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Under an agreement with the Town of Wareham, the Town of Bourne can send up to 200,000 gallons of wastewater per day to the treatment facility in that town. Plans and funding are in place to install a wastewater treatment plant in Buzzards Bay that will increase that capacity by another 100,000 gallons per day.
Mr. Russell’s wastewater allocation is in place because Mr. Michienzi had already been granted 18,000 gallons a day for the building. The taproom will need less water to operate than a microbrewery because no actual brewing will take place at the Main Street location, Mr. Michienzi has said.
Mr. Poulin faces a less-certain situation, given the difference between the existing wastewater allocation for the former footwear store and the possibility that a brewery would require a larger allocation.
But Mr. Poulin said that he has found state-of-the-art equipment used by a number of brewers in Europe that “significantly reduces a brewery’s wastewater generation.” He expressed confidence that his operation would not run afoul of the town’s wastewater agreement with Wareham.
On the other side of the canal from both Oak Bay Brewery and Buzzards Bay Brewery is 6A Brewing Company.
Located on Cranberry Highway in South Sagamore, the microbrewery is housed in the former Flynn’s Irish Pub and is owned by Flynn’s owner, John T. Downes.
Mr. Downes also owns Flynn’s Irish Pubs in Plymouth and Mansfield, as well as Father’s Kitchen & Taphouse on Route 6A in East Sandwich. It was in the East Sandwich location that 6A Brewing Company had its start, supplying beer to the various Downes establishments and half a dozen other Cape Cod restaurants.
The new brewery offers a tasting room where customers can sample and purchase beers both on draft and in cans. Some of the company’s beers include Sundown Lager, Tiny Gift Brown Ale, Forgotten Boy IPA, Endless Night Imperial Stout, and Dark Lager.
The tradition of craft brewing, whose popularity has revived in recent decades, extends back to the country’s founding. Early luminaries in American history such as presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were home brewers, and early American beer was, in fact, consumed more than water.
At the time of the country’s formation, according to the website of North Slope Chillers, a Utah-based company that sells different types of water and fluid chilling systems, beer was “a beverage brewed as a source of potable water in areas with disease-and famine-stricken resources, as was the case in some instances in America.”
The same posting noted that Revolutionary War-era brews were not flavorful, nor were they intoxicating. Early American beers were considered weak due to a low alcohol content.
They were popular enough, however, to foster the creation of craft and microbreweries, to which many American cities were home until Prohibition began in 1920.
Craft and microbreweries, however, did not come roaring back with repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933. They more or less disappeared until the 1980s, when a new community of craft brewers expanded from their home brewing hobby into commercial opportunities.
Since then, the craft beer and microbrewery industry has become big business. An article in the online publication “Brewbound,” dated March 27, 2018, stated that an estimated 997 breweries opened across the United State in 2017. That brought the total number of U.S. breweries to 6,372.
The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission reports a total of 203 microbreweries across Massachusetts.
As the term “micro” might suggest, the difference between microbreweries and traditional breweries is a matter of scale.
While a brewing company such as Anheuser-Busch produces millions of barrels of beer a year, a microbrewery, according to US regulations, can make no more than 15,000 barrels of beer annually. Also, 75 percent or more of its beer must be sold off-site.
The commission breaks microbreweries down into two categories: farm breweries and pub breweries.
A farm brewery is similar to a vineyard or winery. Whereas a vineyard makes and sells its wine from the grapes grown on the vineyard, a farm brewery makes and sells beer from ingredients grown on the farm.
A pub brewery, or “brewpub,” is a place that brews its own beer for sale on premises, from ingredients purchased elsewhere.
In Massachusetts, there are 169 farm breweries. Nine are on Cape Cod and the Islands.
The ABCC lists 34 pub breweries in the commonwealth, including one on the Cape, at Hog Island Beer Company in Orleans, and one on Martha’s Vineyard, at Vineyard Brewing in Oak Bluffs.
Bourne’s brewing surge mirrors national and local trends. California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon boast the most craft breweries. However, the craft brew business is blossoming in Massachusetts and in particular, here on Cape Cod.
Brewery taprooms currently open on the Cape include Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis, Devil’s Purse Brewing Company in Dennis, Barnstable Brewing Company in Hyannis, and Naukabout Beer Company in Mashpee.
Due to open later this year are Bad Martha’s Beer in East Falmouth and Aquatic Brewing in Falmouth. Other potential Cape breweries to open in the near future are 1620 Brewhouse in Provincetown, and the Provincetown Brewing Company.
The growth of microbreweries and craft beer entrepreneurs have even led to ancillary businesses, such as Tap Tastings. The company, which went into operation in February, offers bus tours that include excursions to as many as three different brewing locales on the Cape.
Excursions are scheduled to include pick up by the company’s bus, Barley; stops at the breweries; snacks and water; education about the individual beers samples and the brewing process; and raffle items and Tap Tastings attire and souvenirs.
Prices range from $35 to $89, depending on the number of breweries visited. A “Chew & Brew” lunch option is also available for an additional $35 per person. The company, which is in the process of acquiring its new state charter bus license, will not be offering any more excursions until sometime this month.