Battle Over Tree House Brewing Plans in Woodstock

Tree House Brewing Company's Massachusetts location is a popular spot and often boasts long lines that customers wait in for hours to bring home a case of beer.

A popular Massachusetts brewery has set its sights on Connecticut for its next big project.

Tree House Brewing Company says it wants to sell food and beverages from a 94-acre farm in Woodstock.

Tree House has only been tempting taste buds for eight years, but it’s had to expand more than once to keep up with demand. Cars come in droves, and people line up for hours to bring home a case of their limited release brews.

“It was packed with people. I was absolutely shocked there were that many people up there,” said Bill Dyckman of Woodstock.

Dyckman saw firsthand the following that Tree House Brewing Company has when he visited their Massachusetts brewery to pick some beer up for his son-in-law.

“The couple in back of me said they drove six hours to get beer at the Tree House. I was amazed,” he added. “I ended up waiting two hours in line.”

Whether or not these brews are worth the wait isn’t so much the issue in Woodstock. It’s whether they want the brewery with the cult following setting up shop off two sleepy little streets, Joy and Pulpit Rock roads.

“This is not going to be some little quiet back road as it is now. I think things are gonna change and our world is gonna change over here,” said Mark Labonte, whose property abuts the land that Tree House purchased in January.

Although the company has applied for a liquor permit with the state of Connecticut, it’s not for beer. It’s for hard cider.

On Thursday, people heard from representatives from the brewery at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

Tree House envisions making and selling malt beverages on the farm.

“We’re going to make a type of product that appeals to a very small number of people,” said Nate Lanier of Tree House Brewing Company.

Tree House wrote in a plan submitted to the Woodstock Planning and Zoning Commission that it has planted 1,200 fruit trees. In the plan, company said it wants to ferment fruit to be used in the beers its brewing in Massachusetts and produce hard ciders for sale on site in Connecticut.

“It’s going to add revenue to the town. It’s going to increase interest to the town. I think anything to do that is worthwhile,” said Russell Dowd of Woodstock.

The somewhat controversial topic has become the talk of the town.

“We’re happy about it,” said Brendan Owens also of Woodstock. “We’re big fans of Tree House so we’ve already been going to their brewery up in Charlton, so it’s kind of neat something like that, have them open this operation in our town.”

Support wanes the closer you get to the Tree House’s new address.

“There will be a following that’s gonna come here that we probably won’t be able to control,” Labonte predicted.

“I’m really concerned about the traffic more than anything else,” added his neighbor Rick Canavan.

The company stated to the planning and zoning commission that given the nature of the beverages being produced, it expected its volume of customers to be similar to a winery.

“I think there are a lot of questions that residents of the town have about what the intent is going down the road, and I would like to have information so that our residents would feel more comfortable about what the future is going to hold for the property,” said Woodstock First Selectman Jay Swan.

At the meeting Thursday night, Tree House said they plan to offer tickets to limit the number of visitors, and only allow people two drinks.

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