Lawson’s Finest breaks ground on Friday

  • Published in News
Sean Lawson at new Waitsfield location. Photo: Lisa Loomis

Sean Lawson at new Waitsfield location. Photo: Lisa Loomis

Groundbreaking for Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Waitsfield brewery is tomorrow, August 25, at the Carroll Road site where construction will soon get underway.

The ceremony starts at 3 p.m. and will include a visit from Vermont Governor Phil Scott, state officials and local leaders. Following the groundbreaking there will be a celebration that features music, beer for sampling and food.

The new brewery, retail store and taproom will be built at the site of the former Valley Rent-All building. The 7,500-square-foot building at the north end of the property will be deconstructed with 90 to 95 percent of the materials recycled or reused. A new 7,500-square-foot building will become the retail store and taproom and light fare will be offered.

The 7,500-square-foot building at the south end of the property will be upfitted to house the brewery where beer will be made, stored and bottled five days a week. There will be a viewing area for people to watch brewers at work. The capital investment in Waitsfield will generate more than 20 full-time jobs with benefits.

Company founders Karen and Sean Lawson, Warren, are going to keep the small brewery in Warren that they’ve had since 2008 as a workshop where they will work on developing new beers. Their award-winning beer is currently made at the 7 bbl brewery in Warren and by next fall they’ll be crafting their product at the new 30 bbl brewery in Waitsfield.

Three years ago, Lawson’s started working with Two Roads Brewery in Connecticut, manufacturing Sip of Sunshine and through that process Sean Lawson learned how to tweak and modify his recipes to work with the water and equipment at that brewery.

He anticipates a similar process when he moves his local production from Warren to Waitsfield, from his well water to Waitsfield’s municipal water system.

“I expect that we’ll have to tweak our recipes to get them just right for the new system and equipment,” he said.

Asked how he knows what to tweak, he said, “Brewing great beer is about sensory analysis. Some brewers have it, some don’t. Some are highly accomplished and technical experts, but their beers don’t click with people,” he said.

His wife, Karen, helps with the sensory work and they have a panel of “taste-buds” who help as well.

They are excited, after a year of permitting, to be getting started and anticipate that construction will take a year and are planning for a grand opening next fall.

The groundbreaking party will feature an assortment of Lawson’s Finest draft beers for sampling and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase bottles of Lawson’s award-winning 2016 Maple Tripple, which is brewed only once a year during sugaring season with locally sourced maple sap. Festivities will include music by the Phineas Gage Project and food from Good to Go Catering.

When the groundbreaking party concludes on Friday there will already be deconstruction equipment on the site and work will begin on Monday. His construction team is ready to go with Mark D’Angelo on board as project and construction manager and Roggco Inc. on board to do the construction.

The new brewery will use the Winter Park decentralized wastewater system. The town of Waitsfield paid to install a pretreatment system for that system which reduces the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) level of the effluent significantly increasing the amount of wastewater that that system can handle.

Lawson explained that there is pre-pretreatment system that will be part of his brewery that will reduce the BOD levels of the untreated wastewater from 4000 mg per liter to 250 mg per liter. When it gets to the town-funded pretreatment system, the BOD levels will be reduced to 10 mg per liter.