In a written announcement on the brewery’s Facebook page, Haint Blue Brewing Co. owner Keith Sherrill announced his beer-making operation wouldn’t be moving after all.
In what he called a strategic move, Sherrill said he did sign a letter of intent at another location and listed the former Crystal Ice House as available, but didn’t go through with the move.
Instead, once the 45-day appeal window closed, signaling the end of a nearly year-long legal battle with a neighbor, Sherrill announced the brewery would be staying put.
“Our longstanding zoning troubles are officially behind us,” Sherrill wrote on Facebook. “In a strategic move and in search of a potential contingency (while we waited), we viewed/entertained multiple locations throughout the Mobile area and advertised our property as available. What we found is this: the ice house remains to be the best real estate in town for our venture.”
Sherrill and Haint Blue won in court over a zoning variance to allow the brewery to exist at the ice house location at 806 Monroe St.
The city’s zoning laws don’t have any rules for microbreweries. Without a variance, Haint Blue would be considered a food or beverage manufacturer and could only build by right in two locations: St. Louis Street or out by Brookley field. However, there are other possible uses for the former ice house, such as a café or funeral home, that could prove even more burdensome to residents than a microbrewery.
In making his decision, Judge Ben Brooks did give Haint Blue a number of regulations. For one, Sherrill would have to insulate an interior wall of the building to “reasonably minimize the impact” of live music on nearby residents. The order also limited live music at the brewery to only two nights per week. Brooks also capped the building’s occupancy at 100, including any outdoor seating.
In order to construct the brewery at the site, Brooks ordered Sherrill to build an 8-foot privacy fence on the western property line and plant four to six buffer trees. Closing time for the facility was to be set at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The order also set forth restrictions on parking and trash cans.
There is currently no timetable for when Haint Blue will open. Sherrill said it might be four months, or it might be six.
“We’re antsy,” he said. “We’re moving forward, but as far as how long it’ll take, we’ll open as soon as we possibly can.”
The brewery will open with what is essentially the same design it presented to the city, Sherrill said. Due to the cost of the legal battle, elements will have to be scaled down.
“We’re going to build what we say we’re going to build, only less of it,” he said. “We have a tight budget due to the legal battle.”
As for looking elsewhere, Sherrill said it was needed.
“We needed to look around to find out if this was the right move,” he said.