Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ravens Head buys Cohoes Armory for new brewing operations

Donna Abbott Vlahos | The Business Review
Construction on the Cohoes Armory should start March 15.
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Ravens Head Brewing Co. has purchased the Cohoes Armory and will pump as much as $3 million into the property to begin producing beer by late August or early fall.
Brennon Cleary, co-owner of Ravens Head, said the armory’s owner, Kevin Winne, on Monday accepted an offer of $220,000 for the 22,000-square-foot structure located in a zone approved for mixed-use development.
The deal is expected to close Feb. 15, with construction starting March 15.
In addition to Cohoes, Cleary said the company also scouted spots in Troy, Lake George, Hudson, and Windham.
The startup chose the armory after nixing plans to open in the landmark St. Joseph’s Church in Albany. Neighbors there complained that a brewery would negatively impact the neighborhood, and there were concerns about adequate parking.
Cleary, 39, lives in Kinderhook in Columbia County and is the company’s president and brewer. He said he started brewing beer at home seven years ago, after which it evolved into a passion and he and decided to pursue it as a career.
Cleary then left a full-time job with Verizon, where he repaired and installed FiOS systems, to start Ravens Head Brewing. He created the company along with Brent Decker, a former Verizon colleague.
Ravens Head is financed through several New Jersey investors, Cleary said.
In the first year, Ravens Head would brew fewer than 400 barrels in order to take advantage of a New York regulation that exempts small craft brewers from having to pay labeling fees that can run up to $500 a label, Cleary said.
The brewery is buying a used, 1996 German Kaspar Schultz brewing system for about $500,000, Cleary said. A brand-new version of the system would run $2.5 million, he said.
Cleary’s not sure if the brewery will be limited to a production facility with tasting rooms and tours, or will add a restaurant down the road.
Allen covers education, restaurants, transportation and nonprofits.

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