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People & Places

On tap, a craft brewery in Canton

Plant to open on Turnpike Street

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Elaine Cushman Carroll
Globe Correspondent / May 11, 2008

CANTON - For beer brewer Andris Veidis, success will be measured by the barrel and by how well his new pale ale pours.

Veidis and business partner Peter Augis, with financial backing from friends, are preparing to open the town's first craft brewery, Blue Hills Brewery, in an unassuming 3,000-square-foot warehouse space on Turnpike Street. By the fall, they hope to turn out their first bottles and kegs of Blue Hill India Pale Ale, made from Veidis's own recipe.

The 41-year-old Veidis, who said he loves nothing better than brewing beer, will be the "chief brewer and bottle washer," aided at least part time by Augis, 53, a self-employed artist and contractor.

While Veidis has been researching the best deals on new and used brewing equipment, Augis has been laying tile and designing the inside spaces and letting his mind run wild about everything from signs to marketing strategies to new types of beers and the design of the bar for the tasting room.

"We've been talking about this for about eight years," said Augis, of Westwood. "It's been hard to make this first step."

Veidis, who lives in Canton, hopes to be able to acquire a combination of new and reconditioned pieces by September at the latest. The men are investing about $250,000 to start the brewery, Veidis said.

The brewery is expected to produce about 120 to 150 barrels - or about 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of beer - a month, Veidis said.

Although the two men don't remember exactly when they became friends, they have both traveled in Latvian circles in the Boston area most of their lives. Their two other partners - one from New York and the other from Latvia and Poland - are also longtime friends. "Beer is a big part of the culture," said Veidis. Augis agreed: "My mom's 92. She still loves beer."

The partners hope to have a solid product in local bars and restaurants in time for Octoberfest celebrations this fall and come strong into the local market for the summer of 2009. The timing will depend on quickly getting the brewing equipment and federal licensing.

The company received a variance and positive feedback from the town's Zoning Board of Appeals last month. The brewery would be in a unit of a building at 1020 Turnpike St.

Zoning board chairman Paul Carroll said the brewery would have very little impact on the area of Turnpike Street, also Route 138. Carroll said a couple of neighbors were concerned about possible odors, but said any concern would be addressed, most likely by increasing the height of the chimney or placing a filter on it.

Veidis said the odors from the brewing last for about two hours on days the wort is being made and is a "sweet, inoffensive" smell.

Veidis said he has thought about brewing beer since he was a young child and his father brewed his own beer.

He made home brew for many years and was working with Augis in South Boston when friends encouraged him to apply to be an apprentice at Harpoon's brewery nearby. He started cleaning kegs and storage tanks and, after a few months, was allowed to work alongside the 4 a.m. shift brewers. He wasn't paid and reported directly to his regular job afterward, helping Augis with construction and design at an art gallery.

Veidis wasn't married, which was good, he said, "because I wasn't a very fun fellow in those days." He is now married and his wife, Alysa, is a nurse practitioner at Boston University Medical Center. They have a 20-month-old son, Talis.

Veidis landed a paying job at Hope Brewing Co. in Rhode Island, putting out their Red Rooster Ale. He also worked at the Main Street Brewing Co. in Worcester, a brew-pub that has since closed.

His formal training came when he attended the American Brewers Guild's "boot camp," a 22-week class on brewing science and engineering at the University of California at Davis.

Veidis has been working out his recipes the past few years with his brother, Martin, of Newton. Veidis said the first brew the company will make from his recipes will be an India Pale Ale, a golden beer only slightly fruity with the taste of hops. The second will be a lighter extra pale ale for "the hot summer night when you have just finished mowing the lawn."

Veidis said that when he drinks beer himself, he stays away from those with flavors. "Personally I'm kind of old school. However, beer is about personal tastes. I'm happy to make whatever sells."

Augis, who prefers a porter, said, "making beer is an art. If something puts a smile on your face, I call it art."

Elaine Cushman Carroll can be reached at elaine_carroll@msn.com.

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