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Canton microbrewery on tap for January opening

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CANTON — The beer isn’t flowing yet, but plans for St. Lawrence County’s first microbrewery are moving forward.

By January, production of locally crafted beer is expected to begin at St. Lawrence Brewing Co., owners Kenneth M. and Katrina G. Hebb said.

“We’re finalizing things with our investors and finishing required permits,” Mr. Hebb said. “We’re also looking for local growers to produce hops.”

Four beer varieties have been developed, including a maple porter that uses locally produced maple syrup.

The barley will be purchased from Jeffrey Hill, a Canton area farmer who is growing a 5-acre field of the crop at his Route 68 farm.

“We’re really trying our best to think locally in all the decisions we make,” Mrs. Hebb said.

The Hermon couple opened the Blackbird Cafe, 107 Main St., in 2007, and decided it was time to start another business venture. Within five years, the Hebbs hope their microbrewery will produce $5 million in annual sales and employ 40 to 50 people.

“We really hope to make this one of the larger employers in the county,” Mrs. Hebb said.

Giant metal tanks and other brewing equipment will be housed inside a new industrial building under construction off Commerce Lane, between the county jail and Triple A Building Center.

Mark Hebel, owner of Hebel Welding & Machine, Rensselaer Falls, has been hired to fabricate the stainless steel equipment for the microbrewery.

“This is fairly unique because most microbreweries are getting their equipment from China,” Mr. Hebb said.

Mr. and Mrs. Hebb will lease 3,000 square feet of space from the St. Lawrence Industrial Development Agency, which has started constructing an industrial park at that site. The foundation has been poured and the shell of the microbrewery building is expected to be finished in September. In November, Mr. Hebb said, he hopes the brewery equipment will be ready to move inside the building.

Stephanie M. Russo, a Blackbird employee, will be chief brewer, while Mr. Hebb will handle marketing and sales. Initially, the business will have three or four employees.

The Hebbs said they have the support of several local people who have agreed to invest money in the company.

“People are excited about the prospect of economic development coming to Canton,” Mrs. Hebb said.

The microbrewery should produce about 2,100 gallons of beer a week, which equates to roughly 3,500 barrels a year. Plans include supplying the beer to bars, stores and restaurants, locally as well as throughout the Northeast.

“Anywhere and everywhere,” Mr. Hebb said.

The four brands that have been developed range from light to heavy: an India pale ale, a maple porter, a Bohemian pilsner and a bock.

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

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