By Patrick McArdle
It’s only a short leap, skip and a Hop’n Moose for the owner of a popular downtown restaurant to open his own brewery and canning facility, Rutland Beer Works, less than a mile from Center Street.
The Board of Aldermen last week unanimously approved a number of new business incentives that were recommended by the Rutland Redevelopment Authority.
Dale Patterson, owner of the Hop’n Moose, told the board he was prepared to answer any questions they had about the new business, Rutland Beer Works. But members of the board only offered compliments on his work.
Alderman William Notte, who works at Phoenix Books on Center Street, said people come to Rutland to visit Hop’n Moose, which will maintain its downtown restaurant.
“There are so many people who come to downtown to try the beer,” he said. “I think that for a lot of communities that are on the upswing like Rutland is … a craft beer place, a little local brewery, is a real draw for people.”
Notte said he was also pleased that the plan was to open the brewery at 136 Granger St., an unused industrial site with 4,400 square feet of space that used to be Countryside Glass Corp.
“I think this isn’t just a nice thing to do, I think it’s a wise investment in moving Rutland City in the direction we want it to go,” Notte added.
Alderman Ed Larson asked Patterson to consider adding pizza to the Hop’n Moose, prompting Alderwoman Sharon Davis, president of the board, to joke that when Patterson next comes to see the board, he should bring beer and pizza.
Patterson, who expects to hire five to seven new employees, said he would like to have the expansion open by the end of the year. Hop’n Moose currently employs 24 people.
While Patterson said he respects other Vermont breweries, he has some hometown ambitions.
“We think restaurants in Rutland ought to serve Rutland Red Ale and restaurants in Killington ought to serve Rutland Red Ale,” he said. “Everyone in the state serves Switchback, which is great beer, but this is Rutland and we ought to have Rutland Red.”
Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, said the RRA had reviewed Patterson’s application at their Nov. 14 meeting.
“He’s looking to make a significant private investment in this new operation of over $300,000,” Duffy said.
The city incentives that Patterson requested include a $10,000 loan from the Business Incentive Assistance Program, a water and wastewater rate reduction incentive, and tax stabilization for his new equipment and machinery.
The tax stabilization will last five years, and the $10,000 loan would have a three-year term.
The city will also make a referral to the Heritage Family Credit Union allowing Patterson to apply for a loan of up to $50,000.
After the meeting, Patterson, who opened Hop’n Moose in March 2014, said he doesn’t expect the new location to offer retail sales initially. But he said he’s not sure how much beer will be brewed.
“It depends on how much we sell. We will have the capacity to make a lot of beer,” he said.
Patterson said he didn’t know how large the line of beers made by Rutland Beer Works would grow to, but said, “There’s a lot of exciting directions we can take this.”
However, Patterson said he wants to continue being a “small brew pub.” Hop’n Moose, in a 400-square-foot space, brews 14 to 20 barrels a week, equivalent to about two kegs.
On Granger Street, Rutland Beer Works will have a system that’s more efficient and five-times bigger, he said.
“It’s actually an ideal spot,” he said. “The space is ideal. City water is actually really good for brewing for whatever reason. It’s exceptional.”
Duffy said he didn’t believe there were any other breweries or distilleries in the city.
Patterson came to the RRA when starting Hop’n Moose, and Duffy said he was pleased that Patterson came back when it was time to expand.
“I think the message is that the city is very interested in helping small businesses to grow,” Duffy said.
A Canadian company, Moosehead Breweries, recently filed a trademark infringement suit against Hop’n Moose. Patterson said he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but said he doesn’t anticipate it interfering with the expansion plan.