Rendering of the Four Quarters brewery and taproom proposal at 70 Main Street in Winooski
Four Quarters Brewing, a growing craft beer company that started up in 2014, plans to relocate and open a taproom with capacity for up to 200 people in the former bank building at 70 Main Street in Winooski.
The craft brewer will relocate production there from its current location a few blocks away on West Canal Street. Four Quarters is preparing to boost production from the current 1,000 barrels a year to 10 times that over the next five years.
"Our distributors want a lot more beer from us," explained Brian Eckert, founder and co-owner of Four Quarters.
The taproom will serve grilled-cheese sandwiches and pizza and periodically host live music. A garage-style door will be constructed on one wall that opens onto the former KeyBank drive-through area in the summer. It will have "a big patio and a deck and lots of seating out there and a couple fire pits and Adirondack chairs,” Eckert said.
A small grain elevator will be constructed next to the building.
Many of Four Quarters' customers are beer tourists, and the new brew operation will help bring still more of them to the city, Eckert predicted.
"We're hoping we can kind of help Winooski by putting it on the map as a destination place," he said.
The Winooski Project Review Committee considered the proposal on November 21. The plan has received local zoning approval, according to Eckert. Winooski City Manager Jessie Baker could not confirm that on Monday and referred calls to Eric Vorwald, Winooski's zoning administrator. He was out of the office Monday.
Barring a zoning appeal, Eckert said, he hopes to start the renovation later this month. It will take about six months.
The brewery was founded on West Canal Street. It's outgrown the space and can offer only limited taproom hours. The company will keep that property for storage or other purposes for now, Eckert said.
Eckert said he first considered a move to the corner in 2016. At the time, Burlington development company Redstone was proposing to construct a mixed-use building and performing arts venue there called the Strand. Four Quarters considered leasing one of the spaces in that project, Eckert said, but the venue never materialized.
Eckert continued to talk with Redstone and the current plan gradually fell into place. Redstone owns the property and is leasing it to Four Quarters.
Vermont has a growing number of breweries but there's room for more, Eckert said. 'This beer tourism is for real, and people like to go to a lot of the breweries, not just one," he said. "There's room. Quality ... prevails.”