By Robert Cann
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
And while today's grand opening of Cape Ann Brewing Co.'s Brewpub has left some feeling contrary, for its supporters, and co-founder Jeremy Goldberg, "it's a struggle that's finally come to fruition."
Cape Ann Brewing Co. first tried to open its doors, and its taps, to serve microbrews from its 27 Commercial St. site in May 2007. However, after meeting strong opposition from Fort Square and Beach Court residents, the city Licensing Board decided not to issue a license.
"We thought it was going to happen in May of 2007," said Goldberg, who added that "it wasn't really an option to give up."
A year later, Goldberg and his brother-in-law Michael Beaton, who is co-owner of the Brewing Co., went before the Licensing Board once again. this time for a license to pour beer for four hours a day during three days of Fiesta.
They got it, and Goldberg said, "it was phenomenal."
"The crowd was as diverse as it gets: old, young, all walks of life," Goldberg said. "It was as good as we could have ever expected it to be."
Golberg said that since "Fiesta went off without a hitch," the Brewing Co. decided it was once again time to try for a year-round license to serve. By late January, the Licensing Board approved, and the Brewing Co. received a license in mid-February and held a "soft opening."
"We called it a soft opening; we let our regulars know about us," Goldberg said. "This grand opening is to let everybody know."
Golberg said the grand opening will have raffles, trivia, complimentary chowder from Turner Seafood and chips and salsa from Chili Choice.
"It's just kind of welcoming Gloucester to us," Goldberg said. "It's a big thank you for the people who have supported us in the past."
According to Goldberg, Cape Ann Brewing Co. has a "Farmer's Brewing Pouring Permit" to serve beer, which means it can only serve beer that brewed in-house. The pub cannot serve liquor, or even its own bottled beer, which is brewed and bottled in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
While the brew pub, which is open today from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., serves food, it doesn't have its own kitchen.
"We're trying to bring in food from local establishments," Goldberg said. The brew pub will serve food from Panorama Pizza, Ned's Groceria and Sasquatch Smoked Fish, among others.
"Our focus is to help Gloucester grow along with us," he said.
Goldberg says he looks to Gloucester and the sea for inspiration for his beers. "The history of Gloucester is something that is important to the people of Gloucester, and as such, it's something that we made very important to the Cape Ann Brewing Co."
Goldberg, the comapny's brew master, said that whenever the staff comes up with a new beer, they try to make it relate to the sea.
One of the seven beers that they'll be pouring today is The Fisherman's Tea Party, a barley wine-style beer that features three varieties of tea that were dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.
As for the brew pub's opposition, some in the immediate neighborhood aren't thrilled about the opening.
Joseph Palmisano, who grew up near the Brewing Co.'s location and owns an apartment building in the vicinity, said he believes the "neighborhood's been getting stepped on."
"We're not against brewing beer, we just don't want a pub in front," he said. Palmisano fears that loud patrons will wake up his tenants late at night and disturb the neighborhood.
While Golberg said Cape Ann Brewing Co. has had a "tenuous" relationship with its neighbors — and didn't do everything it could have to reach out at first — he says the owners have been doing more to improve the relationship lately.
Goldberg said he gave out his cell phone number to those who live nearby, and the Brewing Co. had started privately throwing away its used grain and has raised the stacks from its boilers so that the smell from the production would be less noticeable.
Goldberg said giving up in the struggle to serve beer wasn't ever an option.
"There were many nights that I questioned if this was a good idea, but we persevered and kept going," he said.
Goldberg says he fell in love with the beer industry after quitting his job as a Wall Street broker after Sept. 11, 2001, and making a documentary called "American Beer," which took him to 38 breweries in 40 days
He said it's a friendly industry and "all the breweries help each other out."
"You're competition isn't your competition," Goldberg said. "We're all in this for good beer."
Robert Cann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
What: Cape Ann Brewing Co.'s grand opening
Where: 27 Commercial St.
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
Details: Seven beers on tap, pub eats, trivia, tours.