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Glens Falls brew pub putting big new beer factory on Route 9

Glens Falls brew pub putting big new beer factory on Route 9

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QUEENSBURY -- This time next year, the Davidson Brothers plan to be brewing all of their beer locally at a new Route 9 brewery.

Rick and John Davidson, who own the downtown Glens Falls Davidson Brothers brew pub, are under contract to buy the building at 1043 Route 9, which currently houses two retail sporting stores, Sports Zone and Replay Sports.

“We want to make the best beer we can for the people who want it,” Rick Davidson said. “We want to keep growing organically.”

The Davidson brothers brew some of their beer in Glens Falls, but the majority is brewed and bottled at Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine. The new brewery will cost about $3.5 million, and the 50-barrel brewing system will include packaging and kegging lines. The building will accommodate visitor tours, a tasting room and company store. They will continue to run the downtown brew pub.

Gary Wilson, who with his wife Jill owns Sports Zone and the Route 9 building, plans to move the business to another location locally. He’s looking at a few different places, which will likely be a bit smaller than the current building, he said.

“Our main focus is hockey and lacrosse, we may phase out baseball because of space constraints,” Wilson said Thursday. “We’ll continue with hockey, lacrosse and field hockey.”

The goal is currently to close on the Route 9 building purchase in May, begin renovations and shift production by next March from Shipyard to the new Queensbury brewery.

When the brewery is completed, the Davidsons anticipate it will create between six and 12 new jobs. Initial production capacity will be 10,000 barrels, or 138,000 cases, per year.

The Davidsons’ plan is to first take on the beer production being done at Shipyard brewery, then consider growth if they have additional demand from distributors, Davidson said.

The Davidsons opened the downtown brew pub in 1996, and began distributing beer the same year. They quickly grew out of their brewing space, and in 2001, moved much of their beer brewing and bottling to Maine.

“If there’s demand from other distributors, if it makes sense, we’ll do it,” Davidson said.

Davidson Brothers beer currently has a presence in 17 New York counties. The company has had the same distribution area for years now, and in the past two years, the sales volume has doubled within that same geographic footprint, Davidson said.

Because demand is lowest between January and April, moving the operation from Maine to Queensbury should be able to be done at one time next year, rather than in phases, Davidson said.

The beer has been brewed at the Shipyard because both use Peter Austin brew systems, Davidson said.

The new brewery will have a custom-built Peter Austin system, a larger version of what is currently in the brew pub. While many other breweries have moved to more modern, automated systems, the Davidsons plan to stay with the more labor-intensive system. Davidson estimated the old-fashioned system costs 25 to 35 percent more to run.

“Come hell or high water, we’re going to stick with this,” he said. “It’s a lot less expensive to get your tanks from China, but we’re not going to do that.”

The Davidsons have been looking for a brewery location for more than two years. They were concentrating on finding an existing structure within the city, but weren’t able to find anything that met their needs, Davidson said.

A site plan application being prepared by engineers should be submitted to the Queensbury Planning Board for review soon, Davidson said.

In December, the Capital Region Economic Development Council awarded the brewery expansion project $50,000 in state funding, which the Davidsons have decided not to accept.

The project’s scope has expanded dramatically since it was first proposed, and the brothers determined that particular program grant program wasn’t going to work for them.

They also plan to produce a line of sodas, Davidson said.

“We want it to be about the visitor experience, and our area is so known for hospitality,” he said.


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