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New Canton microbrewery gears up to start making craft beer

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CANTON — Large metal tanks, a giant cooler and other beer-making equipment have been installed at the new St. Lawrence Brewing Co., which plans to begin production later this month and be ready for customers by June 1.

The startup microbrewery is housed in St. Lawrence County’s new industrial building off Commerce Lane between the St. Lawrence County jail and Triple A Building Center.

Owner Kenneth M. Hebb said he’s waiting for the rest of the equipment, including fermenting tanks and the beer canning machine, to arrive.

Mr. Hebb also needs final approval from state regulating agencies, including the State Liquor Authority and the departments of Taxation and Finance, and Agriculture and Markets.

“A lot of things have to come together,” he said, noting that he’s encouraged by the feedback he’s getting from restaurants and retailers who want to sell the locally made beer.

“There’s a lot of interest out there, both from businesses and individuals,” Mr. Hebb said.

Mr. Hebb and his wife, Katrina G., live in the town of Hermon and also own the Blackbird Cafe, 107 Main St., and the Parkview, a tavern above the Blackbird.

For all of their business ventures, the couple tries to use locally produced products that reflect north country tastes and customs.

Some of the ingredients for the beer will be grown locally, including barley. Maple syrup, honey and rye from north country producers will be featured in some beer recipes.

The giant metal tanks were fabricated by Mark Hebel, owner of Hebel Welding & Machine, Rensselaer Falls.

Stephanie M. Russo, a Potsdam resident who serves as the facility’s brewmaster, said a trademark of craft beer is using local products.

“The trend toward eating locally produced food is also a trend in craft beer,” Ms. Russo said. “Now we can show the public how that all works.”

Events that feature beer and food pairings are also becoming popular, she said.

The 3,000-square-foot brewery includes a tap room where visitors will be able to sample the beer and purchase beer in “growlers,” which are reusable containers. It will feature a bar, tables and chairs, a dart board and merchandise such as T-shirts and glasses with the brewery’s logo.

Eventually, public tours will be given. The beer will be sold to restaurants and bars by the keg, and retail stores will sell 16-ounce cans of beer. Growlers also will be sold at craft beer exchanges.

Ms. Russo completed a four-week internship last year at a microbrewery in Tennessee to learn the process.

She said she’s excited about working at St. Lawrence County’s first microbrewery and developing recipes.

“I like seeing the whole transformation of fresh barley and other ingredients. It’s fulfilling to make things from scratch,” she said.

Initially, St. Lawrence Brewing Co. will produce four different types of beer: an India pale ale, a maple porter, a Bohemian pilsner and a bock.

The brewery equipment includes a millhouse where the grain is stored, a grinder that will crush the grain and a hopper where the grain is mixed with water.

The mixture then goes to a boil kettle, where it gets mixed with hops. Next, it’s filtered and cooled through a whirlpool. The final step is storing the liquid in fermentation barrels, where it’s mixed with yeast. The fermentation process takes about three weeks, depending on the style.

The facility includes a 32-pallet cooler where the beer will be stored until it’s trucked out.

Initially, the brewery will be staffed by four or five employees, Mr. Hebb said.

“We are as excited as the rest of the public to have this going and ready for consumption,” said Travis L. Pierce, one of the brewery’s staff members.

Updates about the microbrewery can be found on the St. Lawrence Brewing Co. Facebook page.

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