Nanobrewery Eyes Downtown Spot

This is some tasty beer!
This is some tasty beer!
A new kind of brewery is looking at setting up shop in Dexter.

Jay Howe of Divergent Brewing Company introduced himself to the Planning Commission, Dec. 7 during non-arranged public comment time. Howe wants to open a nanobrewery of about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet at 8080 Grand St., in an industrial area.

“We are not currently in business somewhere else,” Howe said. “We are a new business.”
The company wants start a brewery that will produce 750 ml-size bottles of beer, but will likely need some help from the city in regard to zoning to pull it off. The property is zoned village commercial, but the prospective company is having trouble fitting into one of the permitted or special uses.

“There’s not language for breweries,” Howe said. Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol said that included microbreweries and brewpubs.

The function of the brewery would be primarily production, although there would be a small tasting room. The tasting room would be similar to the tasting room at the Cider Mill across town, Howe said.
Howe said Aniol has advised it would be best if the brewery could have some seating, but the the brewery would be self-distribution meaning the owners could deliver beer directly to local grocery stores.
“Because we are so small,” Howe said. “There wouldn’t be a chain of distribution trucks.”

Planning Commission Chairman Matt Kowalski said it was nice to meet Howe, and suggested working with Aniol on zoning questions.

Aniol said the timing couldn’t be better since the commission is working on updating the zoning ordinances.

“This is a use we’ve talked about before,” Aniol said. “It’s not in the commercial district.”
That means at this time, the brewery wouldn’t be allowed in the commercial district, only in the industrial district, Aniol said. The small size of the operation should be a mitigating factor and the commission needs to do something about it, she said.

“How we are going to bring this type of small industry that a retail component to it, how are we going to bring this back into the downtown,” Aniol said, noting a similar circumstance existed when the Jolly Pumpkin started.

“We are much smaller,” Howe said.

Aniol said the Jolly Pumpkin probably didn’t enjoy zoning compliance.

The proposed business would be an production facility downtown, while Northern United Brewing is a bar in an industrial section, Aniol said.

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