Massachusetts brewery looking at property in North Stonington

North Stonington — A Massachusetts-based brewer is looking at a property in North Stonington as a possible event space and "estate brewing" location.

JC Tetreault, founder of Trillium Brewing Company, came before the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday evening to discuss the town’s farmhouse brewery regulations.

The brewery specializes in farmhouse-style beers, and Tetreault said he looked at hundreds of properties across the region for the “physical manifestation” of the farmhouse brewery before becoming interested in a property on East Clarks Falls Road.

Though nothing with the property has been finalized yet, nor has an application come before the Planning and Zoning Commission, Tetreault said he wanted to "open up the dialogue to understand what might be possible or feasible” and get a sense of the regulations. There are also some conservation easements on the property he said he would be looking into, but the location is close to the company's other facilities and would serve as a possible weekend home for his family.

Alongside being a possible event space for small weddings, an "estate brewing" concept means ingredients in the beer — malted grain, such as barley, wheat or rye, as well as hops or any other additives — would be grown on site.

A large barn on the property could be used for the events and be served by a small kitchen, while a smaller horse barn could easily serve as the brewing location, Tetreault said.

“We don’t intend to produce massive quantities of beer on this facility,” Tetreault said, noting that the brewery's 36,000-square-foot Canton, Mass., facility would handle the market demand for Trillium beer. A common measure for volume produced from estate brewing is around 1,000 barrels from about 30 acres. He estimated it would take several growing seasons to get the farm producing, as hops can be difficult to grow in New England.

Town Planner Thomas Zanarini said the regulations largely are borrowed from "Farmhouse Winery" regulations, though the processes often differ, but the Planning and Zoning Commission could re-examine them.

Trillium has expanded quickly since it opened in 2013; the company now employs 45 people. To meet increasing demand, Trillium recently expanded beyond a retail and tasting space in Boston to a satellite location in Canton, Mass. The brewer has received several accolades, including a write-up in Boston Magazine.

Tetreault and his wife, Esther, were married at Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington, and he said they fell in love with the place and hoped to do something similar.

Yeast used in Trillium beers was taken from grape skins at Saltwater Farm, Tetreault said, and several beers, such as the “Stonington Red,” are Connecticut namesakes.

n.lynch@theday.com

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