Brew pub coming in for a landing at Lebanon airport

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2019 10:08:15 PM

WEST LEBANON — A Grantham contractor hopes to revive a long-vacant restaurant space at Lebanon Municipal Airport, as well as the city’s former status as a craft beer destination.

David Albright is in talks with the city to lease about 2,000 square feet of the airport’s terminal for Bright Side Brewing, a nanobrewery that would offer a variety of local beers and bites.

“I’ve been home-brewing for a while and always thought in the back of my mind that I’d like to brew larger batches. I got tired of doing 5 gallons,” he said on Tuesday.

But Albright’s brewing dreams were just that — dreams — until about three years ago, when he encountered Seven Barrel Brewery’s former tanks while on a trip to West Lebanon. He purchased the tanks within weeks and has since been searching for a place to put them to use.

“We’re keeping the equipment right there in town,” he said. “It’s going to be basically the same system that was there before.”

Seven Barrel ended its 23-year run on Route 12A in 2016 after its owners sold the business near Exit 20 to Salt hill Pub.

The brewery was one of the first to open as part of New England’s craft beer revolution. It was run for years by Greg Noonan, a craft beer pioneer who founded The Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington and helped pass the legislation allowing brew pubs in Vermont.

In the Upper Valley, only Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse in the Norwich Inn was older than Seven Barrel, predating it by a few years.

Like Seven Barrel, the new Bright Side brewery will produce a variety of beers. But instead of the former’s well-liked milk stout, Albright intends to focus on a regular line of pale ales, India pale ales and brown ales.

Seasonal brews and food also will be available to patrons. Albright has applied for a “nano plus” license from the state that would allow him to sell full pints and offer meals without having to operate a full-service restaurant.

“We wanted to allow people to stop by and have a couple of pints after work or whenever they feel like it,” he said.

Albright and the city have been negotiating a lease for the airport space since January, according to Interim Airport Manager Chris Christopoulos.

The two groups reached a three-year agreement that would see Bright Side pay about $12,100 a year. While the City Council will be asked to approve the deal on Wednesday, it isn’t expected to be signed until November at the earliest, Christopoulos said.

“We’re pretty excited about it. It’s just another step in the right direction for the airport” he said.

A restaurant hasn’t operated at the airport since at least 2003, although a flight school and some civic groups have temporarily occupied the space, according to former Airport Manager Rick Dyment.

Dyment, who ran the airport from 2009 until this spring, said he tried several times to find a tenant. However, few restaurants wanted to bankroll the potentially costly renovation required to install commercial kitchen equipment or take the risk of locating outside the Route 12A commercial strip.

“The idea was always to have a restaurant that would draw people to the airport,” Dyment said Tuesday.

Albright said the airport space has water and sewer hookups required for a brew operation and could draw business from employees of the surrounding industrial park.

“It was pretty much set up as a restaurant previously, so it has a lot of the bones. A lot of the good structure is there,” he said. “This is the best spot I found in my 2½-year search.”

The new brewery likely won’t open until spring 2020, Albright said. He’s awaiting licenses from federal and state regulators and would have to undertake a renovation before serving customers.

Bright Side also will need a head brewer and employees to handle the food service, he said.

“It will be while. We still have a lot of preparation to do,” Albright said.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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