The Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday tabled a local brewery’s request to overturn a decision that prohibits the beer maker from selling snacks to visitors in its tasting room.

The action came at the request of city staff, who wanted more time to draft recommendations for accommodating the rapidly growing craft beer scene in Portland, which has 13 of the state’s 50 or so breweries.

Allagash Brewing Co. had sought a license from the city to sell prepackaged food, such as pretzels, chips and trail mix, to people visiting its tasting room on Industrial Parkway.

“Tasting rooms at breweries are a relatively new and interesting use in these industrial zones, but more than other uses they raise the question of what is and is not accessory,” City Hall Communications Direct Jessica Grondin said an email Thursday night. “We want to be thoughtful and deliberative about balancing the benefits these tasting rooms provide the community with the need to protect spaces for industry. So we want to have some time to draft guidelines as to what we would generally consider accessory as part of a tasting room.”

In November, Zoning Administrator Ann Machado turned down the request based on zoning regulations, which only allow “ancillary uses” to brewing beer, such as selling bottles to take home. Other types of sales – such as t-shirts and pint glasses – are not allowed, she said.

The brewery said it only wanted to provide snacks to visitors to temper the effects of alcohol they consume. Although the brewery only offers beer samples totaling 12 ounces to each customer, there are four other nearby breweries, some of which sell full pints, and some people visit more than one during the same trip. Sometimes food trucks are on site, but other times they are not.

Portland City Clerk Katherine Jones said in an interview that any business looking to provide food to the public is required to get a city license, regardless of whether they are selling it or offering it for free, so it can be inspected.

 


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