A proposed microbrewery in Harbeson would be the solution to Dewey Beer Company's need for more beer to not only supply its restaurant on Route 1 in Dewey Beach but also to allow for distribution.
“We need more beer. We can't keep up with the demand. We need a new space. We've been expanding production slowly but have run out of room. We've found an area in Harbeson that will handle the growth,” said Brandon Smith, general manager and co-founder of Dewey Beer Co., which has operated the restaurant for five years.
Dewey Beer Company LLC has filed for a conditional use to operate a 9,900-square-foot microbrewery in the Kings Landing Business Park at 18499 Harbeson Road, north of the Route 9 intersection.
Although the business park is in a C-1 commercial zone, under current county code, a microbrewery is not a permitted use, said assistant county attorney Vince Robertson. Other uses, such as a restaurant or retail center, could be constructed with a site-plan review and no public hearing.
Under the proposed plan, nearly 90 percent of the building would be used for beer production, with a small area for retail and indoor seating. Sixteen tables are included in the site plan in an outdoor patio area.
Fred Townsend, attorney for the applicant, said the facility would not have a restaurant but would offer a tasting room. In addition, the applicant is asking to include use of a food truck as part of the conditional use.
“About 80 to 90 percent of the beer will be moved off site,” Townsend said. “It's a low-intensity operation.”
The applicant is asking for hours to be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, but public hours during most of the year would be from 4 to 9 p.m.
Concerns expressed in letters of opposition from some residents in The Meadows of Beaver Creek community deal with wastewater and odors from the brewing process.
Artesian Wastewater Management Inc. would provide water and wastewater services to the site.
Michael Reilly, head brewer and partner, said the operation would use about the same amount of water as a large restaurant or four to seven homes, with all wastewater contained within the facility and released to the sewer line.
“The water is not toxic. It's rinse water like a restaurant's wastewater,” he said.
Reilly said there could be some odor similar to a bakery for about an hour each day when steam is released.
“We operate in a densely populated area in Dewey Beach and we've never had a complaint,” Reilly said.
Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson said some residents had expressed concern about noise from outdoor entertainment. Reilly said on rare occasions there could be acoustic music played on the patio, but not on a regular basis.
“This is not an attraction for people to drink on site. The use is not intended to draw people with events and music,” Townsend said.
Robertson reminded commissioners that the Delaware Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner would regulate the operation and what is allowed as far as entertainment is concerned. “And federal and state regulations mandate how much they can produce,” he said.
Hoey Stevenson also questioned how much parking will be available. Reilly said there would be three to five employees, and guests would have access to more than 80 parking spaces in the business park.
The commission deferred a vote to a future meeting. Sussex County Council has scheduled a hearing on the application at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.