By Mal Boright
August 15, 2013
On Omega Drive, just off South Brownell Road, the east end of a large warehouse-type building is about to become a hopping place.
Presently, the 4,000-square-foot interior is vacant, except in the middle, where there is a folding table with four folding chairs.
Call the room the Big Empty.
But it will not be empty for long. Joe Lemnah is on the case with a lease on the location since July 1 and has completed clearing out the space for his new brewing equipment, arriving in days.
This is the beginning of Lemnah’s Burlington Beer Company, which will soon become the latest addition to Vermont’s bustling and healthy craft beer scene.
Lemnah, a good-natured, friendly craft beer artisan, sat down at that center table Friday and discussed his coming foray into the beer market.
He said plans for the start-up include beer to be sold on tap at area pubs and bars, along with bottles.
As to when product will begin flowing out of the plant, he hesitated to set a firm date.
“That’s a moving target right now,” Lemnah said with a smile. “I would say November to January.”
The critical first requirement is a Federal Brewers Notice which is in the works but, he said, “can take from three to six months.”
After that there will be the required state permits and even a floor drain permit from the town of Williston.
Among plans for the brewery are a tasting room for his regular and experimental beers plus a membership plan through which participants would have access to new products as they come forth.
Lemnah, 31, is an Essex High graduate who began home brewing while living in Saratoga, N.Y. He soon found work at the Old Saratoga Brewing Co. and rose from the bottling line to the making of the product.
Then, motivated by a love of craft brewing, he applied for and got a job at the fast-growing, nationally known Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, where he furthered his education and development in the trade.
He still home brews to “keep my hand in the business.”
Once the equipment is in and the brewing commences, Lemnah plans to employ six people at “livable wages.” In experimental beers with fruit, he wants to use local fruits “from farm to beer.”
One of his first products will be a premium pale ale called “Hills and Hollows.”
His initial production targets will be 30 kegs or 3,700 pints.
Yes, Burlington Beer Company will be a small operation, but as Lemnah pointed out, while the big national and international brewers treat beer as a commodity, the local craft beer makers are producing a product from love and devotion.
For more information, visit www.burlingtonbeercompany.com.