Pittsfield board of directors approves brewery for $ 140,000 in economic development funds / iBerkshires.com

Brooklyn, NY, transplants Mike Dell’Aquila and Sarah Real appear before the Community Development Council last week. They will be opening Hot Plate Brewing Co. in the Onota building on the corner of North and School Street.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The city center will become “more hoppy” by next summer.

The Community and Economic Development subcommittee approved an allocation of $ 140,000 from the city’s economic development funds for a new brewery on North Street.

Brooklyn, NY, Transplant Mike Dell’Aquila and Sarah Real will be opening Hot Plate Brewing Co. in the Onota Building at the corner of North and School Street.

The name evokes a difficult time when the couple were inspired to make their own craft beers on a hotplate after their gas was turned off. The site will be a “microbrewery” characterized by the production of 15,000 barrels or less per year.

The panel unanimously supported the funding, which will come from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund, also known as the GE Fund. The fund balance is currently around $ 1.5 million.

The money will be used to buy equipment.

Real has been a craft beer lover for about 20 years and decided to start scoring her own at home in 2017. She dived headfirst into the New York brewing community, took classes, and joined. a national company for women in fermented drinks called the Pink Boots Company.

“I’m an award-winning home brewer, I got one of five Pink Boots Society scholarships this summer to do an immersive week in Washington’s Yakima Valley, which is the world’s largest hop producer,” said she declared. “And right now I’m part of the Brewers Association fall cohort.”

Dell’Aquila says his chamomile lager is one of the best beers he’s ever had.

Real has been in the consumer insight field for over 15 years and Dell’Aquila has 16 years of content creation, creative development and recent experience in product management.

Their business model is based on three common themes: craftsmanship, community and conservation.

Community is the most important aspect that has received a lot of attention. As a Latina, Real didn’t feel represented in the industry and said there was a general lack of representation in craft brewing.

“This summer there were a few presentations that came out, so there was a lot of talk about the lack of [diversity, equity, and inclusion] in the craft beer world, be it the BIPOC community, the LGBTQ community, there is not enough representation and inclusiveness, ”added Dell’Aquila.

“Sadly, these are white, male dominated men, guys who look like me, and not enough people who look like Sarah, and so for us, inclusiveness is really at the heart of who we are.”

Brewers also hope to add to the downtown revitalization efforts and add density to it. They can watch patrons walk by the Hot Plate Brewery in Thistle and Mirth or District, then watch a movie at the Beacon Theater.

When it opens, the seven-barrel brewery will have four full-time employees, including Real and additional part-time staff. They plan to add two more full-time employees by the second year and in the future grow with a team focused on growing the business.

The couple envision a smooth opening in the spring of 2022 and a full opening in the summer. The design has a maximum capacity of 106 people and will likely close between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 or 11 p.m. on weekends.

Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer said the entrepreneurs have demonstrated their understanding of the sector, created local relationships, and made good sense in marketing and business.

The two also presented figures that the city considers sufficiently conservative and realistic for a start-up.

She added that while the city doesn’t judge businesses on ownership structures, the city is happy to see a woman-owned business enter.

Ward 1 councilor Helen Moon asked how the couple view gentrification, stressing the importance of not pushing the existing community out while growing.

“Partly that’s because we’re getting to Pittsfield, we’re kind of bringing back what was already here, the little pubs that were still open for different shifts decades ago,” Real said.

“And for us it’s about bringing people together, we don’t put up a flag and say only that type of person can do it, that is, only that type of person can be there. What we heard as we spoke with many members of the community is that they want a meeting place and they don’t have one at the moment, so we feel like we are providing that service as a meeting place. “

The price of a beer will range from $ 5 to $ 8, which they say is comparable to other North Street restaurants such as Mission and the Lantern Bar and Grill.

Moon found these prices a bit steep and expressed concern about affordability for people who live near the downtown area.

“I can certainly hear you on what we offer downtown,” she said. “I would say that the offers we have downtown aren’t necessarily aimed at people who live close to downtown and more at people drawn to what we have to offer downtown, which doesn’t is not a bad thing, obviously, but again, how to balance the two? ”

Moon asked Ruffer about the four full-time positions the brewery will create, speculating that Real will take on one of those positions and that Dell’Aquila may do so in the future.

Ruffer clarified that he would be considered a founder and, therefore, would be an employee, not an owner.

“Because we only looked at these four and we never penalized a company for having its owner (s) included in the job tally, these four count in our process,” he said. she said about the posts.

“What this allows them is that we don’t have to take the money out until they create the other jobs, the part-time jobs and the part-time jobs matter.”

Moon later said she supported the project regardless of her inquiries. These questions just had to be asked, she explained.

Ward 3 councilor Nicholas Caccamo asked the brewers how they envision entering a crowded market. While there isn’t an overwhelming amount of breweries in Berkshire County, parts of the state are said to be saturated with them and the same can be said across the country.

Dell’Aquila pointed out that much of the craft beer movement is about people who drink locally. He highlighted the success of Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams and Shire Brew Haus in Dalton and said he could see them being part of that mix.

“This is a modest investment with only net positive effects for the development of the city center,” Caccamo said. “So it’s obvious in this situation, I hope it goes very well.”

Key words: new business, brewery, GE fund,

About Barbara J. Ross

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