ROXBURY, NJ – Craft beer fans might be worried; five months have passed since they happily learned a former roller rink in Kenvil was being eyed for a microbrewery but the place shows no sign of activity.
Relax you ale authorities, malt maniacs and Kolsch cognoscente. A formal application for the project was submitted last month to the Roxbury Planning Board. Site plan application approvals - like fermenting beer - take time.
The paperwork means that Long Valley resident Steven Ashton, who floated the idea in December, still wants to turn the former Kenvil Arena on Route 46 into Ashton Brewing Company. Artist drawings included in the planning board application even show designs for signage that displays that name.
Ashton could not be reached for comment, but Ledgewood-based architect Ken Fox – who is designing the proposed brewery – said the project is moving forward.
The plan calls for a complete renovation of the long-vacant, 10,000-square-foot building situated on about two acres. The property, which hasn’t seen roller skaters in about 30 years, is owned by the Gruber family, which also owns Fran’s Wicker in nearby Succasunna.
The brewery would not be the first designed by Fox. He also served as the architect for the Czig Meister Brewing Company brewery in Hackettstown, a popular business that occupies a renovated 1920s-era auto repair shop.
The plan for Ashton Brewing is to keep the building’s hardwood flooring and wooden roof arches while updating utilities, heating and cooling and other time-worn aspects of the structure. “For me, it’s a big, wide-open space,” Fox said. “The industrial look has become the neighborhood look” with microbreweries, he added.
Initial drawings show five brew tanks with room for eight more, a grain crush room, a grain storage room, a canning line and can storage area, a brewing area, a laboratory and four carbon dioxide tanks.
That’s in the back, but Fox noted the brewery will be required – as part of licensing requirements in New Jersey - to give patrons educational tours of the brewing systems. “Breweries require tours so you are able to understand the process of creating beer and the varieties of beer and be able to taste them in a social environment,” Fox said.
Out front, there will be 10 tables, a bar with 10 seats and a private party room with four more tables. No food will be sold, but deliveries will be allowed from nearby restaurants.