Commission backs permit for Rhinelander Brewing expansion
Brewery and tap room with retail outlet planned at 43 S. Brown St.
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Plans by the Rhinelander Brewing Company to locate a brewery and tap room with a retail store and museum in the former Forest TV and Appliance building at 43 S. Brown St. received the backing Tuesday of the city’s Planning Commission, which is recommending to the full City Council that a conditional use permit be granted for the construction.
Rhinelander Brewing manager Brenda O’Rourke and Cathy Sennett appeared on behalf of the project before the commission. According to the business plan provided to the commission, the company is seeking to expand what it currently offers at its offices at 59 S. Brown St.
The company’s remodeling plans at 43 S. Brown St. call for having a 35×40-foot retail area in front of the building’s street-level room. Beyond the retail area, the tap room and tasting area would be located with table seating for 36 guests and a bar to seat eight guests.
The remodeling would also include having a 10-tap system along the back wall of the front room with a three-station sink for washing glassware. A walk-in keg cooler is planned in the back room with the brewery equipment.
Pints and small samples of several beers would be offered for sale in addition to the tastings and tours at times when the retail store is open for on-premise consumption. Growlers of beer would also be for sale for carry-out.
Commission members agreed to allow the retail store and tap room to operate Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. with the business being closed on Sunday.
Though there could be a “tasting evening” with some food brought in for that event, city fire chief/building inspector Terry Williams said the premises won’t have a restaurant.
“It will not be something that they’ll be selling burgers or anything like that,” Williams said. “They might have peanuts with beer, or something like that, but it won’t be classified as a restaurant. It will be the brewpub type of an atmosphere.”
The company’s initial plans for employees call for starting with one full-time manager, a position filled by O’Rourke, and hiring two part-time brewers, who would be in charge of brewing and some tastings, tours and brewing demonstrations. One additional part-time employee would be hired to cover all retail hours.
The company recently announced the property will be its headquarters where it will produce its craft beers, including a new line of small-batch beers called Hodag Ales. It expects to complete construction by next February. The permit for the project will be up for final approval at the City Council’s Dec. 11 meeting.