Craft beer variance is approved

WILTON – David Wirbal can now build a shed on his Greene Street property and create and market craft beer. On Jan. 9, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted a variance that allows him to conduct a home business in an outbuilding.

While the town ordnances allow garden-shed-type buildings in a residential zone, and the brewing itself would be considered an allowed home occupation, the regulations do not allow home businesses to be conducted outside of the residence.

Following a site visit on Jan. 7, the board determined Wirbal’s lot was large enough, and well screened enough from neighbors, to allow the use and that such use is in the spirit of the ordinance.

The variance requires that lighting be minimal and screened from neighbors.

With the approval of the variance, Wirbal can now apply for a manufacturing license from the Liquor Commission. The building must be approved by the Liquor Commission, and then there is a 180 day waiting period for federal permission.

“It will be closely monitored by the state,” he assured the board, and tight security is required.

Having his brewery in a separate building is required by the state so they can make unannounced inspections. Officials cannot, under the Constitution, inspect an operation in his kitchen.

While the brewing is just his hobby, he cannot sell any nor remove any beer from the premises, but if a business, he cannot sell the beer at his home.

“This won’t be a bar,” he assured his neighbors at the original hearing on Dec. 19.

The variance allows a 10 by 12-foot shed placed so that the security light above the door shines only at his residence. Wirbal has discussed further screenings or plantings with neighbors, and they will reach an agreement privately.

Wirbal said he will produce up to three cases per “batch” and make maybe two batches per week.

Neighbors wondered if “anybody in the neighborhood can now make beer,” but Chairman Neil Faiman assured them that “every case is different and must come before the board.”