Friday, October 2, 2015

Public meeting held regarding proposed micro-brewery in Lundbreck

Josh Davis

On the final day of September, the M.D. of Pincher Creek held a public meeting at Lundbreck Community Hall to seek public input on a proposed micro-brewery, to be located in Lundbreck. Adam Wilgosh, along with his wife Brittney Wilgosh and business partner Dan Christianson, explained in detail their plans for the establishment, hoping to address concerns raised by the community over the micro-brewery.

Adam Wilgosh at the meeting
“Well, nothing like talking about beer to bring people in,” joked Adam. “We should have specified that there wasn’t going to be any beer in here.” Adam has been a home brewer for seven years. “It’s a really interesting process. I really got into it, and it’s part of my life now.” If approved, Wilgosh said they’ll be the first microbrewery and taproom in south-western Alberta. “First and foremost, we’re a brewery, not a bar or a restaurant. I know that was a concern, so I’m going to state that now.”

In 2013 the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission eliminated the minimum production capacity requirements from their Class E liquor licenses, in order to encourage new start-ups. These changes to Alberta liquor law allow brewers to sell on a smaller scale, and encourage local liquor entrepreneurs. It is these changes which prompted Adam to begin plans for a micro-brewery.

“As far as the brewery operations go, products will be distributed in kegs, to local restaurants, bars and pubs all throughout southern Alberta. Kegs will be sold through liquor stores, and in our taproom we’ll sell our product in pints, we’ll sell it in off-sales, you can take a 6-pack with you, and we’ll sell it in growlers (a pitcher, pail, or other container brought by a customer for beer).” Children under 18 will be allowed in the establishment if accompanied by an adult. Plans include a bar, with seating for up to 30 patrons, and two bathrooms. However, they say they will limit their ale sales to 3 pints per person. Only two food items will be sold, in order to meet regulations as a micro-brewery. The proposed hours of operation are between 11:00am and 8:00pm, and they plan to feature entertainment on special occasions. They plan to brew 24/7.

Adam then talked about the brewing process, and explained the difference between beer brewing and spirit distilling. “There was also some concern regarding the odour that comes from beer brewing. I’ve been around brewing for quite some time, and on a commercial scale. The odour that comes from brewing is not unpleasant, as you would find in distilling. Distilling takes this one step further, where you make a beer, and then you cook it to extract the alchohol from it. Brewing subtracts that extra cooking step, which tends to be the most odour producing portion of it.”

Adam showed the layout of his proposed micro-brewery the public.

Adam was asked about noise pollution caused by their proposed ventilation system, and responded that there would be a persistent hum. “The noisiest portion of the brewery is a glycol chiller, which is a lot like a large residential air conditioner.” The plan is for Adam to be the only full time employee at the start of the operation. “I’m going to be the brewer, and the packager.” He was asked where he’ll get his malt barley from. “It’s sourced globally. There’s great producers on every continent. We plan to get the majority of ours from the malt facility in Northern Alberta.”

“We’d like to work with the other businesses in Lundbreck. We want to be a part of the community. We hope we’ve addressed the concerns that we already know.”

Following the presentation, Adam handed the microphone back to MD of Pincher Creek Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan. Milligan asked if the audience wanted to bring forth more of their concerns. One concern raised was the possible effects of the business growing. “We would grow until this building won’t support us anymore, and then look for an alternate location after that,“ said Adam. Another concern raised was that the proposed location only has ten spaces to park, and will be supplemented by parking at other businesses. Adam responded that they have already worked out a deal with Lundbreck Tire and Lube for additional spaces. “We could put up signage, saying where to park.”

The question of water usage and effect on sewage was raised. The water consumption of the facility was projected to be about 4000l per week. Adam said the Biochemical Oxygen Demand for the proposed mico-brewery would most likely fall between 1.6 mg/l – 1.8 mg/l. Comparatively, an average domestic abode has a BOD of 2.5 mg/l. Adam could not speak to the COD, or Chemical Oxygen Demand of his proposed business. Typically, breweries rate between 1.8-3.0 mg/l COD. “A great portion of what’s produced by a brewery is organic material, and decomposes readily,” said Adam.

MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan
“I’d like to thank you all for coming out tonight. It’s nice to see this many people. Adam, Brittney, and Danny, thank you very much” said Milligan. “What’s going to happen now is we will be taking this back to the Municipal Planning Commission. They’ll review this information that was gathered here tonight, and consider it in their deliberations on the proposal.”

“I feel really good, actually," said Adam after the meeting. "There was a positive turn out, positive feedback from most people. I think we addressed most people’s concerns."

 “I’ve been a home-brewer for seven years. I enjoy the process, I enjoy thinking about it, I enjoy making the calculations about it, and I enjoy the artistic side of it. I wanted an artistic outlet, and I tried this, and it just fits.”

“At first we’re going to try to make some beer styles that appeal to most people, so we’re going to have a bohemian style pilsner, an American style pale ale, and a Hefeweizen. The three of us are super excited about this opportunity, and we’re working hard every day to make it happen. This is just another step in that, and we’re all really pleased in how it went.”

However, not all Lundbreck citizens are happy about the proposed micro-brewery. Norma Ingram attended the public meeting with copies of an open letter to Roland Milligan outlining some of her and Brent Dewart’s concerns about the project. Below are excerpts from that letter:

“I am writing this in response to a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Wilgosh that was posted in the Lundbreck Bar. I understand that they are trying to calm the townspeople’s concerns, but I am not satisfied at all. I realize that the meeting tonight has been set up to convince everyone that the town, and its businesses and citizens, will not be adversely affected by this proposed business. I for one will definitely be adversely affected, as will the owner of the home that I rent.”

In her letter, Norma raised concerns about the proposed location of ventilation systems for the micro-brewery, having been disturbed by late night cooling machines before. “Obviously, the system will be located out the back of the building, which is directly across the alley from my home. I am quite certain that I will be unable to have my kitchen and bedroom windows open without being able to hear this ventilation system. Again, there is only a distance of about 20 feet between us. For this and the following reasons I am 100% opposed.”

Later in the letter, she voices concerns about how the proposed micro-brewery could affect local business. “I truly believe that the Lundbreck Bar is going to be adversely affected and I don’t believe this is fair to them either. The brewery will be selling and serving beer; right there is a conflict. The location, being where it is proposed, close to the entrance to town will stop people from going farther up the road to the bar, definitely a conflict. Consider that the Lundbreck Bar is trying very hard to increase their business with renovations and entertainment, and I would say that the micro-brewery coming in would be a huge issue for them.

I am not against progress or new businesses, but I feel that this location is not right at all. I have nothing against Dan or the Wilgosh’s personally, but I am hoping they will understand where I stand, because I am not going to let this go. I will appeal the decision as often as I have to if this gets approved.”

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