By Jill Nagy
Common Roots Brewing Co. in South Glens Falls is doubling its brewing capacity and a local company, Fronhofer Design of Cossayuna Lake, is fabricating the vats that will allow them to do it.
Both are local, family-owned, companies.
Common Roots will add four new 20-barrel (620 gallons) fermenting vats and a new 20-barrel “bright tank,” said co-owner Bert Weber.
The bright tank, he said, is for the final conditioning of the beer. It spends a day or two in the tank before being transferred to kegs.
Fronhofer is a 36-year-old steel fabrication company in Washington County, consisting of Fronhofer Tool and Fronhofer Design. Brewery equipment is a relatively new line of work for them.
“They do beautiful work,” Bert Weber said of Fronhofer.
Getting into the brewery niche began about two years ago, according to Paul Fronhofer II, who runs the business along with his brother Kyle. Paul Sr. founded the business in 1980.
Their projects have included a 40-barrel tank for a meadery (a honey-based beverage) in the Bronx, a 70-barrel tank for the Brown’s Brewery facility in Hoosick Falls, and a full-scale brewery in Argyle.
“We really like doing work with Common Roots,” said Heidi Fronhofer, the office manager at Fronhofer. “Paul and Christian work closely together.” The businesses are located about 15 miles apart.
So far, the brewery products Fronhofffer makes have been largely custom designed and built, but Fronhofer said he is confident that they can standardize some of the products as their brewery business increases.
Right now, it comprises about 15 percent of their work, dollar wise, but somewhat more time wise.
“The projects get bigger and bigger,” he said.
They are about to add a 16,500-square-foot building in Greenwich, bringing their total to 50,000 square feet.
Weber expects the first new fermenting tank and the bright tank to be delivered to his business by Fronhofer in June and the other three soon after. They will be placed in front of the existing tanks in space set aside for expansion although, he said, they may put a crimp in the plans of his wife, Robin, who holds yoga classes in the brewery on the first Sunday of each month.
“We have a hard time keeping up with demand right now,” Weber said of the brisk brewing business. They recently added a full-time assistant brewer to the staff. His son and co-owner, Christian Weber, is the brewmaster. There is a full-time staff of four people and another six who work par time.
Common Roots has a taproom, a retail shop selling beer and accessories, and a tasting room. They do not sell food but encourage patrons to bring in or order on their own. Sometimes, there are food trucks or caterers on site and several local pizza parlors will deliver.
In addition to their brewery equipment work, Fronhofer operates a machine shop and manufactures parts for hydroelectric dams and paper pulp mills, among other products. He said they are one of the largest employers in Argyle and clearly the largest in Cossayuna Lake.
Recently, Paul II attended a large brewers’ convention in Philadelphia. He said he returned with a lot of new business.
Meanwhile, Christian Weber was visiting breweries in Belgium and Germany, exploring the roots of the types of beers brewed by Common Roots.
Common Roots is located at 58 Saratoga Ave. in South Glens Falls. They are open six days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4-9 p.m.; Friday, from 4-11 p.m.; and Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m.. They are closed on Tuesday. The webpage is www.commonrootsbrewing.com and the telephone number is 409-8248.