After being denied a beer manufacturing permit in July, Alex Seitz was given conditional approval to start his own in-home research brewery operation by the DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night.
The vote was 5-2 in favor. Board members Edward Frazier, Jim Stagi, Rhonda Caplinger, Johnny King, and Robert Rowe voted "yes" while Leonard Dickens and Frank Thomas voted "no". The meeting, held at the county complex, was covered exclusively by WJLE.
Seitz will be issued the license once he receives and presents to the county clerk's office the required certificate of registration of his brewery from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Seitz told the board that he has already made application for the certificate from the state and is expected to receive it soon.
"I checked with the state and they said as far as they were concerned it didn't matter whether he (Seitz) already had his beer permit. He couldn't do anything with it if he had it because he doesn't have this certificate. But he has applied for the certificate. When you apply for the certificate they require a bond. So all he's got to do is show them (state) his bond and they will issue him his certificate. My suggestion to you (beer board) is if you feel he meets the requirements and apparently he does, and if he brings in his certificate to the county clerk from the department of revenue, he ought to be issued a license," said County Attorney Hilton Conger to the Beer Board Thursday night.
The board denied Seitz's first application in July on a 3-2 vote. One member "passed" and another was absent. Dickens and Thomas also voted "no" at that time apparently due to concerns they had about a brewery operating in a residential subdivision. But when he reapplied, Seitz also submitted a petition signed by 39 residents in his neighborhood who were not opposed to his plans.
Seitz, who resides on Floyd Drive in Lakeview Mountain Estates, told the board in July that he would be conducting the brewery primarily for research purposes but small amounts of the byproduct would be bottled and sold to the Calfkiller Brewery in Sparta, a wholesale distributor. Seitz said the brewery would be operated out of his basement and that there would be no retail sales to the public from his home and no signage on the premises. "It technically is a business but it is a research facility. Its science based and will be in incredibly small amounts. It's like a byproduct of the theoretical yeast fermentation process. I will put it (beer) in champagne bottles and then I'll load them in my car and take it away. I just want to be able to work with my yeast so that I can actually sell the yeast because a lot of other home breweries and laboratories would want that yeast," said Seitz in addressing the Beer Board.
Asked by one beer board member Thursday night if his beer would be sold in DeKalb County, Seitz said that would be up to the distributor. "My distributor is out of White County. It will be mostly (sold) in specialty beer stores in like champagne bottles or maybe in one or two little restaurants. It doesn't have to be sold here but the distributor could sell it to anywhere (store licensed to sell beer) it is requested," said Seitz.
As for any neighbor complaints, the permit application form states that "DeKalb County has adopted a rule forbidding the sale of beer and like alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a residential dwelling, if the owner of the dwelling objects to the issuance of a beer permit". Although a neighbor questioned it at the July meeting, Seitz claims no resident in his neighborhood is within 2,000 feet of his home and no one who may live within 300 feet has yet come forward to voice an objection.
The application form also states that "DeKalb County has adopted a rule forbidding the sale, storage, and manufacture of beer and like beverages within 800 feet of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering". This would not be an issue in Seitz's case since no businesses operate in the area.
Seitz has also passed a criminal background check as required by the county beer board.