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Branching out

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No higher praise could be offered for an entrepreneurial expansion than these words from a renowned connaisseur: “Mmm, beer ...”

Homer Simpson speaks for many of us in expressing delight at seeing a local company open a new market for itself. The St. Lawrence Brewing Co. in Canton last week began canning the beer that it previously only made available through its own tap room as well as bars and restaurants in the surrounding area.

But company officials recently hired the We Can Canning Solutions from Pennsylvania to bring its craft brews to package stores and expand its clientele. Now Homer won’t have to wait to go to Moe’s Tavern to enjoy his favorite beer. He can stop off at the Kwik-E-Mart and visit with Apu while buying a pack of these specialty suds.

“The majority of beer is sold to consumers in packages,” Kenneth M. Hebb, owner of the St. Lawrence Brewing Co., told the Watertown Daily Times for a Monday story. “So by being able to sell packages to customers on store shelves, it really increases our market penetration.”

The St. Lawrence Brewing Co. crafts four brands of beer: Barnstormer Bohemian Pilsner, Maple Porter, Ruby Canoe Bock and Skinny Dipper India Pale Ale. With workers from We Can Canning Solutions on-site, 150 cases each of Barnstormer Bohemian Pilsner and Maple Porter were canned along with 200 cases of Skinny Dipper India Pale Ale.

Mr. Hebb told the Times that he would like to see canned beer account for at least 45 percent to 50 percent of sales for the company. And the key to achieving this goal is knowing when it’s the right time to take chances.

The microbrewing industry has become increasingly popular across the nation, including here in the north country. There are times when the only way a local business will flourish is to take a risk and test new markets.

Beer lovers will hopefully try one of these brands. And don’t be shy about sampling craft beers created by one of the other brewers in the north country, such as the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co.’s War of 1812 Amber and Thousand Islands Pale Ale. Buying locally made products keeps dollars and jobs in the area.

It would be great to see other businesses in our communities follow Mr. Hebb’s example and move beyond their comfort zone. It just might be a risk worth taking.

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