Planning Board OKs move of brewery to Watertown

Andrew S. Gersten, brewmaster at the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co., drains yeast out of some of the brewing tanks in the pub-side brewery. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Thomas W. Scozzafava hopes to finally fulfill a decade-long ambition to move his brewery operations from Sackets Harbor to the former Alteri’s Bakery building in the City Center Industrial Park.

First proposed in 2010, he plans to start production of beer in the building, 981 Waterman Drive, soon after the city’s Planning Board gives site plan approval. The project will be discussed at the board’s Oct. 6 meeting.

“Oh, jeez, we started talking about it a long time ago,” he said.

He’s moving the beer production equipment at his restaurant in the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. to the building in the industrial park. The restaurant in Sackets Harbor will remain open.

Mr. Scozzafava also purchased the bottling, filter and labeling equipment from the now-defunct Empire Brewing Co. in Cazenovia, allowing him to have “full control” of all the beer production for the first time, he said.

“We’ll be ready to get going,” he said.

The brewery can produce kegs in Sackets, while it would now be able to bottle beer with the move to the Watertown location. Bottling was done at Empire. At some point, he hopes to add canning operation so he can enter the Canadian market.

The Empire Brewing equipment cost $540,000 new, but Mr. Scozzafava purchased it “for pennies on a dollar,” he said.

He’ll be able to produce four or five times more beer at the new location. Now producing 1812 Amber and 1000 Island Pale Ale, the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. would add Railroad Red beer, Third Rail Porter and Double IPA Malicious Intent back on the product line at the new location.

The brewery would add a tasting room next spring, initially employing four or five workers, then growing to between 10 and 12 by the middle of next year, Mr. Scozzafava said.

He would not divulge the cost of relocating the operations to the Watertown location.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., said he heard “some rumblings” about the brewery opening in the industrial park, but didn’t know it was moving forward.

He’s “glad” to hear the project would add jobs in the industrial park, where there is no longer any room for new construction.

“I’m glad he’s coming to the industrial park,” Mr. Rutherford said.

It was back in 2010 that he first proposed using the former Alteri Bakery building for the brewery. The city’s Planning Board actually approved a zoning change to allow light industrial so alcohol could be produced in the industrial park, said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director.

The former Alteri Bakery building will be renovated. The brewery equipment is already inside. A 960-square-foot addition would be built, a 624-square-foot cooler would be placed on a cement pad on the west side and a large canopy be placed on the south side of the building. The site plans include improvements to the parking lot.

In January 2019, Mr. Scozzafava closed Alteri Bakery after it had production issues with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Eight months later, The Anchor Bar that he owned, adjacent to the brewery in Sackets Harbor, burned to the ground in a fire caused by a discarded cigarette.

While he’s said he hoped to rebuild, he’s not sure about his future plans for the site, adding it depends on the availability of grant funding.

Future plans, he said, could instead be an outside bar.

“We’re going to end up doing something there,” he said.

The new brewery in the industrial park joins Boots Brewing Company, Garland City Beer Works and the Flashback Brewing Company opening in Watertown in recent years.

But the Skewed Brewing Co. — known for its craft beer selection — didn’t reopen this summer in the Salmon Run Mall after the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

Clinger50

I think the Sackets Brewery is way too late on the the bottling plant! The Flynn family proposed a better plan in Sackets Harbor 10 years ago!

The market is saturated with bottled micro brew now and Sackets brewery will never grow beyond watertown! Nobody likes Scozzafava nor his crooked sister!

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