Plans for a microbrewery and tap room in La Crosse took a step forward Tuesday during a committee meeting which also saw minor changes to the city’s social hosting ordinance.
The La Crosse Judiciary and Administrative Committee unanimously approved a conditional- use permit for 608 Brewing Co., which plans to open in early summer at 83 Copeland Ave. in La Crosse, on the condition the tap room limit its hours to 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. In addition to limiting the hours, the city permit requires the facility remain at less than 5,000 square feet and produce no more than 1,000 barrels of beer per year.
If approved by the council next week, the new business, owned by Phil and Lorie Humphrey of Holmen and Ryan and Danielle Beach of Oshkosh, will lease the former Flooring Interiors showroom.
The hours were restricted after a member of the city’s plan commission Monday raised concerns that hours nearing bar time blurred the line between a bar and tap room.
Tap rooms, said commissioner Corliss Tischer during Monday’s meeting, are meant for patrons to sample beers.
“Most of them close early, not like it’s a bar. Now we’re getting really close to that 1 a.m., so they’re really skirting it, I think, at 1 a.m., and looking more like a tavern,” Tischer said.
The restrictions are similar to those set for Turtle Stack Brewery when it opened in 2014. The Second Street tap room is limited to hours of operation between 3 and 10 p.m. on weekdays and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday; however, it closes at 11 p.m.
Phil Humphrey made no objection to the restrictions Tuesday when council member Scott Neumeister asked him to weigh in.
“Yeah, I’m OK with it. Really, the reason the hours were what they were is just in case of a special event,” Humphrey said.
Neumeister also proposed allowing 608 Brewing Co. to ask the plan commission for any schedule changes for special occasions.
“That’d be great,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey said the quantity limit might be a problem, but the current location would make that kind of production scale difficult without a second facility. There are 31 gallons in a barrel.
“If you’re moving 1,000 barrels through your taproom, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of beer,” Humphrey said. “That’s a future problem.”
Humphrey plans to make 500 barrels in the first year.
“I like that location enough that I think it’s ideal for what I’m trying to do, so I’m willing to deal with it and address it when it becomes an issue,” Humphrey said.
The committee also approved minor changes to the city ordinance dealing with underage drinking parties, bringing it into compliance with a new state law.
The city’s legal department described the change as a housekeeping matter in a Tuesday interview.
“Our old ordinance and the new statute are reasonably similar. They should prohibit similar types of conduct,” said assistant city attorney Paul Frederickson.
The law prohibits adults from providing alcohol to those who are under the age of 21, whether it be at a house party, business or hotel room.
Under the statute, the citation for a first offense is $500, with the fines increasing for additional offenses.