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Brew Practitioners plots move from Florence to Agawam

Date: 1/26/2021

AGAWAM – Brew Practitioners, a brewery that got its start in Florence, is officially moving their operations to Agawam.

According to Tanzania Cannon-Eckerle, a member manager and majority owner at Brew Practitioners, the business left the Northampton neighborhood because they have not been able to operate since March 2020. For the past two or three years, the brewery was looking for an additional location to expand, particularly in the communities  surrounding Northampton.

“Prior to this time, we were actually looking for that optimum place that had all of the things we wanted,” said Cannon-Eckerle, with regards to their initial plan for a second business location.

The pandemic, however, forced the business to close in early spring of last year. When they tried to reopen in July 2020, the state of Massachusetts sent a cease-and-desist order, stating that the brewery could not reopen under the its current guidelines.

Cannon-Eckerle disagreed with the state’s decision, arguing that serving popcorn and chips from a neighboring café was enough to meet the food service criteria for a bar to stay open in Massachusetts.

According to Cannon-Eckerle, Northampton failed to accommodate their needs, and essentially told the brewery they could not open at this current moment. With that in mind, Cannon-Eckerle said they felt that it was best to discard their original plan of expansion and instead focus their attention on finding a new location for the brewery they have now.

“It changed from an additional opportunity, to a need-based ‘where can we go?’” said Cannon-Eckerle, with regards to why they needed to move out of Northampton.

Joe Eckerle, head brewer at Brew Practitioners, commended Agawam’s Department of Health for their willingness to participate in open communication with the brewery.

“The feeling for me is Agawam is trying to get businesses like ours into their community,” said Eckerle. “Whereas Northampton was doing more to stop us from opening.”

Eckerle continued by saying how Northampton shot down every opportunity for Brew Practitioners to operate like every other brewery in the area. According to Cannon-Eckerle, Agawam’s assistance with liquor license information was a “breath of fresh air” for the brewery, especially because no other location provided the same level of transparency in their eyes.

“An open, working relationship is what’s necessary for small businesses,” said Cannon-Eckerle. “And Agawam has been on top of it.”

While there is no set date for when they will move into Agawam, Cannon-Eckerle said that, if all goes well, they could be open as early as April. They would not be shocked if the opening took a little longer, though.

“There’s just a couple of different variables that are outside of our control,” said Eckerle. “We’ve been through licensing a couple of times throughout our careers, so it’s just time to get in, get set up, and get the licensing put in order.”

One of the biggest issues the brewery has faced since ceasing operations is beer waste. All of the beer they had in 2020 had to be dumped, and now they have to start anew. As someone who cares about quality immensely, Cannon-Eckerle said that they let their beer ferment a little bit longer. According to the owner, it takes about three weeks for the “grain to glass” transition.

“We’re excited to get back at it,” said Cannon-Eckerle. “What we do well is good quality beer and customer service, and it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to do that. We’re excited to bring it to Agawam.”

According to Eckerle, the business is currently looking to donate grain to local farmers in/near Agawam who are interested in using some it  to feed their livestock. Anyone who is interested can contact the brewery on their Facebook page.