By Jeffery Smith jsmith@the-leader.com

WATKINS GLEN - Lucky Hare Brewing is competing for state funding from the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council to move its beer production facility into a new 5,000-square-foot facility just outside of the village.

Richard Thiel, owner of Lucky Hare, said the new facility, expected to be completed next spring at the FLX Gateway Community Development Corporation, off State Route 414, would allow Lucky Hare to more than triple the amount of beer made annually.

“By moving to a new 5,000-square-foot-facility, we’d be able to move the facility into a bigger brew house and have semi-unlimited ability to expand, with the goal of 5,000 barrels per year,” said Ian Conboy, head brewer.

Thiel said Lucky Hare is applying for a $200,000 state grant to help pay for a project that’s just under $1 million to complete.

The Lucky Hare Brewing tasting room will remain at its current location at 6085 Beckhorn Rd., Hector.

Thiel said if the grant is received the next portion of the plan, after the production facility has relocated,  is that the tasting room would be moved into an old barn right next to the current tasting room.

“Once the production moves to FLX and everything is moving smoothly we will focus our attention on putting in a large tap room, a traditional restaurant and additional parking," Thiel said. “Our current location will remain the face of Lucky Hare. We have no intention of moving from The Southern Tier.”

G. Thomas Tranter Jr., co-chairman of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development, said the grant decision is expected to be announced sometime in December.

“This is our first attempt for grant,” Thiel said. “Hopefully we will be granted these funds. It will allow us to stay in the area because we don’t want to relocate our business because we love Schuyler County and the Southern Tier.”

Thiel said he picked the current location, off Seneca Lake, because of the wonderful view and the popular wine trail.

“To relocate my business somewhere else would not be the smartest decision, but I can’t grow my business at the current location,” Thiel said. 

Judy McKinney Cherry, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development Executive Director, could not be reached for comment.

Officials said work on the 5,000-square-foot building at FLX is expected to begin in the next few weeks.