Northeast Times

Saint Benjamin Brewing Company finds a home, brewpub might be next

Fishtown res­id­ent Tim Pat­ton has long been work­ing to build a brew­ery. Last week, he presen­ted a plan in South Kensin­ton.

Tim Pat­ton—Fishtown res­id­ent and Star’s now-monthly “Think Beer, Drink Beer” colum­nist—said he hopes to bring a low-key, slightly quirky brewpub and nan­obrew­ery to South Kens­ing­ton.

The brew­mas­ter and own­er of the Saint Ben­jamin Brew­ing Com­pany might just see his com­plete dream real­ized—at a meet­ing of the South Kens­ing­ton Com­munity Part­ners on Wed­nes­day, June 20 at the Fin­anta Build­ing at 1301 N. 2nd St., res­id­ents were openly sup­port­ive of the pro­posed pro­ject.

The meet­ing was meant only to gauge the com­munity’s re­ac­tion—loc­als will vote of­fi­cially on the pro­pos­al next month.

Pat­ton, who was a home brew­er be­fore work­ing to make Saint Ben­jamin a real­ity, has already nailed down a home for the brew­ery at 1710 N. 5th St.

The in­dus­tri­al build­ing, he said, is zoned to al­low Pat­ton to brew, pack­age and dis­trib­ute his beer from in­side, but he is pro­pos­ing zon­ing vari­ances to al­low for a brewpub for pub­lic use and the sale of mer­chand­ise and beer to-go.

He calls the build­ing “the ideal setup” for a brew­ery. It was ac­tu­ally, he said, the former car­riage house for the Theo Finkenauer La­ger Brew­ery some 100 years ago. He said the build­ing is a sol­id three-floor struc­ture in which one could “park a tank.”

As far as a brewpub to sup­ple­ment the brew­ery, Pat­ton said it would have a 30-seat bar and a small prep kit­chen that will serve sand­wiches, salads and snacks. In the brewpub, he could only leg­ally serve beer that is brewed on site—that is, only Saint Ben­jamin Brew­ing Com­pany beer—as well as wine that is made in Pennsylvania.

“I see that as an at­tract­ive op­tion since some­times people get dragged to brew­ery tours,” he said, “So wine’s an op­tion for the non-beer lov­ers.”

He’s also pro­pos­ing a vari­ance to al­low on-site re­tail so that he can sell growl­ers, kegs and six-packs of his beer, plus mer­chand­ise like tee shirts.

He’ll have to pro­pose later vari­ances even for things like flower plant­ers and a bike rack in front of the build­ing.

Pat­ton said his brewpub could only bring good to the South Kens­ing­ton com­munity and sur­round­ing areas.

“It will bring jobs and tour­ism to Kens­ing­ton,” he said of the nan­obrew­ery and brewpub. “People came all the way from the West Coast for Beer Week. In the fu­ture, that could hap­pen here.”

Pat­ton said his brewpub will provide the com­munity with a place to get pints of qual­ity brews for $4 or $5, and it won’t be one like so many of the “prob­lem bars” in the city.

“It’s not [go­ing to be] the kind of place where people are pound­ing al­co­hol, and pound­ing light beer,” he said. “You sit down, you sip slowly, you have a con­ver­sa­tion with your friend…[the brewpub will be] a meet­ing place. It’s def­in­itely not a nightclub.”

As far as the hours of op­er­a­tion, Pat­ton said he’d like to stay open late to provide ser­vice in­dustry work­ers com­ing off shift a place to en­joy a good beer.

“In this neigh­bor­hood, there’s a lot of artists, a lot of people who work in the ser­vice in­dustry, and they tend to keep rather odd hours,” he said, and pro­posed that at least on the week­ends the brewpub stay open un­til 2 a.m. The as­sembled meet­ing did not ob­ject.

The brew­ery’s build­ing is set up so that the first floor, at first, will be used for both the brew­ery and brewpub area. Pat­ton said he’d later ex­pand us­able space to the second and third floors of the build­ing. On the ground floor, he’ll park his de­liv­ery truck in the gar­age con­nec­ted to the rest of the struc­ture.

He said the truck doesn’t pose many traffic prob­lems—he can’t back the truck in or out between the hours of 3:30 and 7 p.m., dur­ing rush hour. He said he’d prob­ably make beer de­liv­er­ies from the truck once or twice a week.

Pat­ton also raised the point that the build­ing will al­ways be zoned as a brew­ery, even if it’s not his brew­ery that calls the place home. The city has at­tached a brew­ery pub li­cense to the build­ing, and a bar without a brew­ery could not ex­ist at the site.

All in all, this so-called nan­obrew­ery—which is a step smal­ler than a mi­cro­brew­ery—and brewpub, Pat­ton said, will serve the pur­pose of ex­pand­ing the Saint Ben­jamin Brew­ing Com­pany down the line.

“This is a brew­ery that I ex­pect to grow,” he said. “I’m try­ing to get to the next step up, which then brings even more be­ne­fits [to the neigh­bor­hood].”

Charlie Abdo, who ad­dressed the at­tendees of the meet­ing after Pat­ton’s present­a­tion, had pos­it­ive things to say about Pat­ton and his pro­pos­al.

“He seems like he’s got him­self to­geth­er, he’s very earn­est and very act­ive in the neigh­bor­hood,” he said.

Abdo asked those present for their gen­er­al thoughts, and one man raised his hand to say simply, “It seems like a re­spons­ible op­er­a­tion.”

When Abdo asked what com­munity mem­bers should re­quest that Pat­ton bring to next month’s vot­ing meet­ing, one per­son shouted out what, per­haps, many at the meet­ing had been think­ing:

“Beer!”

To learn more about Pat­ton’s brew­ery, vis­it blog.stben­jamin­brew­ing.com.

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com or at 215-354-3113.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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