The one-year-old Fairport Brewing Company, which produces its beers one half-barrel at a time, is renovating the old Pure Oil service station at the corner of Fairport Road and South Main Street in Fairport Village. The new facility will serve as a tasting and retail room, freeing up space at their existing Turk Hill Park facility to increase production capacity.
The expansion is a case study in how thirsty people are for local beer. In addition to making their own investments, and banging the turf hosting beer samplings around town, partners Tim Garman and Paul Guarracini turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise capital for the new building and new brewing equipment. With six days to go at the time of this writing, the campaign exceeded its funding goal, leaving a smile on Garmin’s drywall dust-stained face.
So now it’s business as usual for the self-described “picobrewers,” as they continue to pump out six taps worth of beer at a time, along with the added responsibilities of opening the new shop and figuring out how to shoehorn a newly ordered three-barrel brewing system into their current boutique-size space.
Nanobrewing (or picobrewing in this case) is the latest wave of growth in the brewing industry. Brewing on an extremely small scale obviates the massive capital investment costs of the typical craft brewery, but the low output of beer makes it hard to grow a commercial customer base and expand the business.
Fairport Brewing works on the latter problem by brewing several times a day. Guarracini, an award-winning veteran of the Rochester homebrewing scene, serves as the company’s brewmaster but is canny enough not to try to do it all himself. Unusually for a nanobrewery, FBC took on two part-time brewers, allowing for shift changes and extra hands to take care of unglamorous but critical tasks like cleaning and sanitation.
Garman and Guarracini have also learned to use the brewery’s low output as an advantage, using the small system’s flexibility to gush forth a dizzying array of creative beers and keeping them in a constant rotation in their six-tap retail area. FBC beers span a wide gamut, from powerful double IPAs to a soon-to-be-released Kölsch. Many of these are quite good, and almost all of them are solid, respectable craft beers.
The new retail space is a result of Garman, a lifelong Fairport local, staying true to his vision of slow, organic growth. Apart from the occasional guest tap at Fairport bars and restaurants, it will be the only place to buy FBC beer for the time being. The new brewery may change that however, more than tripling capacity. Even when regular retail keg distribution becomes a possibility, Garmin still holds to his “think Fairport” approach.
So far, that strategy paid off. Not only have Garman and Guarracini built the foundations of a dream for themselves, but they’ve earned the respect and trust of Fairporters who are proud to have their own local brewery, and they created a few jobs along the way. It looks like someone else is about to become New York State’s smallest brewery, because Fairport Brewing Company just got a little bigger.
Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.