Utica might get a nano-brewery – that is, a brewery that makes batches of beer as small as a single barrel – to be located behind the Bickerman building.
Thursday, the Utica Planning Commission recommended approval for Dan Stash, who seeks to operate “Ginger Road” in the ground-floor space behind Bruce & Ollie’s ice-cream shop at 166 Mill St.
In a series of unanimous votes, the commission recommended a special use be granted and the village create a classification for breweries and taprooms. Final approval is pending before the Utica Village Board.
Stash said he’s a competitive home brewer who wants to try his hand selling product, but only Friday through Sunday because of his limited volume of product. The space in question is a garage and capacity will be no more than 10.
“The good thing about being small is you can try new things,” Stash said, “and get people coming back saying, ‘OK, what’s he making next week?’”
Stash’s timetable is uncertain. He’s waiting on the federal and state licenses needed to sell home brew but has the equipment needed to begin swiftly once licensed.
Commissioner Andy Skoog expressed support, saying nano-breweries are gaining popularity and, “It’s the new thing that’s going on across the United States.”
Commissioner Bill Zens said Stash’s plan was a creative use for the space.
“If it’s not this,” Zens said, “I don’t know what else goes in there.”
There were objectors, however.
Former Utica Mayor Gloria Alvarado said she was concerned with the growing volume of alcohol service and gaming and that this flies in the face of the village’s comprehensive plan.
Trustee Debbie Krizel read aloud two letters, one hers, the other from JoEllen Fiorentini (not present), opposing the expansion of alcohol service and urging the village to adhere to the comprehensive plan.
Krizel said she will vote against Stash’s request when it comes before the six-member Village Board.
Jen Cetwinski co-owns the Bickerman building with husband Matt and is leasing space to Stash. She said she objected to the opponent’s characterizations.
“That garage is sitting empty,” Cetwinski said. “I’m not going to rent it to just anybody. Matt and I believe strongly in Dan’s talents.”