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Ken Hebb in the future space of the St. Lawrence Brewing Company. Photo: David Sommerstein
Ken Hebb in the future space of the St. Lawrence Brewing Company. Photo: David Sommerstein

Canton's first microbrewery prepares to set up shop

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Like Governor Cuomo at his beer, wine, and liquor summit Wednesday in Albany, a pair of Canton entrepreneurs is hoping craft beer sales will provide an economic lift.

Ken and Katrina Hebb, owners of the Blackbird Cafe in Canton, are starting St. Lawrence County's first microbrewery. The St. Lawrence Brewing Company is leasing space in a new industrial building in Canton. They're ready to start moving in next week and hope to start selling beer by St. Patrick's Day.

Ken Hebb gave David Sommerstein a tour.

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David Sommerstein
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The brewery's logo
The brewery's logo
So we’re at 19 Commerce Lane, 3000 square feet of which is going to be the new home of St. Lawrence Brewing Company. Kind of behind AAA Lumber, right across from the street from the new jail. So coming in we see what will be the taproom here.

So when you say a taproom, what do you mean?

A place where you can come, buy a pint, pull a growler, take a tour of the facility, see what’s going on.

Oh really? So you can come here and have a beer?

Yeah, absolutely.

But no it’s not a brewpub, let's be clear this is not a brewpub, it’s a brewery.

We won’t be making any food on site.

And what’s it going to look like in here?

I think we’re going to go with a stained concrete, it’s just a raw concrete floor right now. The tables are all going to be hand made out of local wood. I’ve got some large Maple slabs that are going to be some of the tables. I’ve got some Yellow Birch planks we’re going to make tables out of. The bar is actually going to be made of Cherry and Curly Birdseye Maple.

We're trying to work with combining some of the interesting local raw materials with some of the steel and industrial look that this building is kind of about.

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All right, so there is one main door through to the production facility here. This room is going to be packed. We tried to design it as efficiently as we could to maximize the production out of the space, but what you end up with is 13 14-foot tanks right behind David here, by the floor drain. A couple of rows of fermenters, grain milling, I mean so it’s… We’re going to do everything here from, milling the grain, and brewing the beer to packaging it and sending out the door.

Why are you doing this from an economic standpoint?

The craft beer industry is a fantastically growing market. Just in the time that we’ve had the Blackbird Café open, the interest in craft beer has been increasing dramatically. I come from Colorado originally, which is kind of a craft brew haven.

Having an interest in that and having made various forms of alcohol for a lot of years it seemed like and interesting opportunity to bring that to the North Country. To make some quality beer that reflects North Country tastes, and has some interesting appeal for up here that’s also local and fresh.

We’ve worked with a grower just outside Canton here to grow five acres of malting barley. So, one of our flagship styles, most likely the pilsner, will be made with locally grown barley.

It reaches not only from agricultural products, but local manufacturing. Hebel Welding on the Old State Road in Rensselaer Falls is manufacturing our equipment, which for craft breweries is an interesting move, most everybody is buying it from China. But that’s not our style.

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