Bad news for craft beer lovers: The Alchemist is not going to reopen after all.
The pub and brewery in Waterbury, Vt., were destroyed by Hurricane Irene in August. The owners, John and Jen Kimmich, had been planning to rebuild and reopen, but they have learned that insurance will not cover the losses in the basement, where the brewery was located.
The Alchemist had just opened a cannery down the road when Irene struck. Since then, the cannery, which was not damaged, has been churning out 16-ounce cans of Heady Topper, an outstanding imperial IPA that many people -- me included -- consider the greatest IPA they've ever tasted.
The Kimmiches, who own the building on Main Street that housed the pub and brewery, are going ahead with a rebuild of the pub, which will be operated under new ownership. When it reopens, it will have other brewers' beer on tap along with -- and here's the silver lining -- Heady Topper on cask.
Jen Kimmich emailed me this letter, which she plans to put on The Alchemist's website soon:
Hello friends and fellow business owners.
First and foremost, thank you for all of your assistance and encouragement in the months following the flood. This experience was a challenge made easier by your outpouring of support.
We have made the very difficult decision not to re-open The Alchemist Pub and Brewery. While it is extremely difficult to walk away from the business we have spent our last 10 years building, this is the best option for us moving forward. There were many factors that helped us come to this decision. Primarily, we have recently learned that none of the contents in our basement were covered by flood insurance. Unfortunately, our basement was the lifeblood of our business -- our brewery, our beer, all of our food and our offices were in the basement. Moving forward, we have come to the realization that re-building our basement brewery is not a viable option.
At this time, we are focused on reconstructing our building at 23 South Main Street. Zoning has been approved to re-build a 60-seat pub. John and I are determined to re-build as fast as possible to contribute to the vitality of downtown Waterbury. We are in talks with a few different restaurateurs to take over the space. We will find the best fit for Waterbury -- someone who can continue to run the pub in a warm, friendly and accessible manner, and provide employment opportunities to our staff.
The Alchemist will continue to be involved in the village of Waterbury. As property owners, we will continue to put our best foot forward with the aesthetics of the building. It is our belief that without the day-to-day operations of the pub and brewery, we will be able to spend more time on community focused special events. Moreover, and probably most important, we will move our 7-barrel brewery to our new production brewery at 35 Crossroad. Once we have installed the brewery, John will be hard at work to supply the community with his creative and tasty small production beers.
If anyone has any questions or concerns about the future of our building or The Alchemist, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Jennifer & John Kimmich