The Town of Brookhaven and several other municipalities across the state have recently amended certain zoning provisions to authorize the brewing of beer, cider, wine and other spirits on farmland. The amendments approved by the Town of Brookhaven in February 2016 incentivize the use of locally grown (in this case, on-site) ingredients similar to the New York State Farm Brewery license; however, the local legislation targets zoning applicable to protected farm practices. Capitalizing on certain benefits extended to farming and agricultural land use, the Town added farm breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries to the list of protected farming practices. Subject to certain licensing and other regulation, the amendments effectively allow for farms that grow products used in the production of alcoholic beverages to brew, distill or ferment, as the case may be, alcoholic beverages. In addition, and perhaps most compelling, the amendments would permit a tasting room as an accessory use to a farm brewery, cindery, distillery or winery. The tasting room would be open to the general public and used for the retail marketing of alcoholic beverages produced at the farm—including ancillary gifts such as t-shirts, glasses, decanters, etc.
This exciting legislation offers great opportunity for farm/brewer collaboration.