Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 5

Climbing Bines

Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery / Photo: Melissa Collver

After our stops in Penn Yan, we headed east to Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery, where we met Brian Karweck and his team.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Brian explained how he and his business partner, a school teacher, created a business that filled a niche and also engaged their friends, family, neighbours and the community.

The development of Climbing Bines was aided by the passage of the 2013 New York State Farm Brewery Law, which liberalized regulations associated with on-farm breweries. The law was designed to increase demand for locally grown products to further increase economic impact and create new businesses surrounding the brewing industry.

Under the new law, in order to receive a Farm Brewery license in New York State, the beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products. By 2024, no less than 90% of the hops and all other ingredients must be grown in New York State. Until then, there is a gradual increase in threshold amounts.

The beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated as “New York State labeled beer.” The legislation was modeled after the 1976 Farm Winery Act, which spurred the growth of wine production in this state, including the creation of 261 farm wineries and tripling the number of wineries.

Brian Karweck of Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery entertains our group / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Brian Karweck of Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery entertains our group / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Under the farm brewery license, brewers do not need an additional permit to serve beer by the glass, which has the highest return for brewers in terms of sales. Farm brewers can also make cider and serve that cider by the glass. They are allowed to have five branch offices, where they can sell their products and other New York State labeled beer, wine, and spirits by the bottle, in addition to having tasting rooms, retail shops, restaurants, and serve samples and sell at farmers markets.

Climbing Bines also created a “Mug Club” aimed at building loyalty among locals and increasing visits and sales in the off-season. Some in the tour group were impressed with the brewery’s method of tracking beer samples.

“Climbing Bines had a great system with their dry erase marker and sheet protector for their tastings,” said one of our participants.

This was just one of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine