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City Council approves brewery license

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C.V. Harris, a senior project engineer with Leprino, plans to open a craft beer brewery and bar on Southeast Main Street within a few months. His liquor license application was approved by the Roswell City Council Thursday. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Roswell is likely to get its third distillery soon.

The Roswell City Council voted Thursday night to approve the state liquor license of C.V. Harris, an Army veteran and a senior project engineer with Leprino Foods who plans to open a craft beer brewery and bar at 1719 S.E. Main St. within a few months.

Harris has built the machinery — which includes a brewhouse, a 360-gallon fermentation storage unit and three 90-gallon fermenters — hired an architect, developed the brand’s first custom beer known as Valdarno, received the city approval for the state license and obtained the federal tax permit, but he still has some steps to go.

He needs to renovate a former store into a distillery, storefront and bar able to hold about 49 people, obtain the completed paper work for the liquor permit and get a city business license. He also plans to hire a bartender and someone to assist with brewing.

“It is kind of in its earlier stages,” Harris said, “and I am excited about getting started here.”

His application passed the City Council with a 6-4 vote. No member of the public spoke against Harris’s application. The matter had been advertised as a public hearing.

Harris has a longstanding interest in roosters and chickens, he said, which have been the subject of his artwork and will be the visual theme of the business. The Valdarno beer is named after a breed of a rooster. Harris said building signage will show the symbol of a black rooster with the word “brewery” underneath.

Harris’s business will become the newest of three businesses in Roswell that manufacture alcohol. Pecos Flavors Winery makes its own wines and Milton Brewery of Carlsbad, which makes craft beers at its Carlsbad site, received a license from Roswell in November to open an off-site taproom in the back of Stellar Cafe on North Main Street.

Harris said he also plans to sell other New Mexico craft beers; Kambucha tea, a fermented tea considered a non-alcoholic drink; as well as sodas. Someday he would like to serve food as well.

Although Roswell only has three custom alcohol makers now, he predicts more will come.

“I think it is going to expand quickly,” said Harris about the market in Roswell. “Craft beers are taking a huge market share of all beer sales. Look at Albuquerque area, and I think it has 27 craft breweries right now.”

In 2017, New Mexico ranked 12th in the nation for the number of craft brewers, according to the national Brewers Association. That year, there were 64 breweries, or 4.4 per 100,000 adults, that accounted for about $333 million in economic impact. In 2011, there were about 25 craft brewers in the state.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.