Floodwater Brewing Co. opens in Shelburne Falls

  • Zack Livingston, owner of Floodwater Brewing Co., in the Shelburne Falls brewery on State Street. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Zack Livingston and brewer Dave Dumas at Floodwater Brewing Co. in the Shelburne Falls brewery on State Street.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Zack Livingston, right, and brewer Dave Dumas inspect the brew tanks at Floodwater Brewing Co. in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • One of the locally hand crafted beers at Floodwater Brewing Co. in the Shelburne Falls brewery on State Street.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Zack Livingston in the tap room at Floodwater Brewing Co. in the Shelburne Falls brewery on State Street.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/8/2019 4:53:04 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — A craft brewery has opened in Shelburne Falls, the latest addition to the half-dozen or so clustered around Franklin County.

Zack Livingston, a Worthington native and University of Mass. graduate, opened Floodwater Brewing Co. at 40 State St. during Moonlight Magic last November. The brewery is open Thursday and Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The brewery will hold community events each month, including charity comedy shows, live music and language exchanges, Livingston said. On Thursday, the brewery will host its second comedy show. Proceeds from the first show, held in December, were donated to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. 

Livingston said he is especially interested in hosting comedy shows, as he had a second job as a stand-up comic for seven years. While he said he doesn’t have time to pursue gigs anymore, he intends to use his background to host events and invite comedians he met from the circuit to perform.

“I plan to have a lot of community-oriented events,” Livingston said.

Floodwater only serves beers brewed on site. Beers currently on tap include a saison, a chocolate rye porter, and a blonde. A pale ale will be ready next weekend. An IPA will be ready in three weeks’ time. 

“I don’t think we’re locked into a specific kind of beer, we’re just trying to create something that is quality,” Livingston said. 

Food is not served on site, but patrons are encouraged to bring food to the brewery or have it delivered from local restaurants.

Livingston bought the space in 2016 without knowing what he would do with it.

“I felt like I’d rather work for myself,” Livingston said. “At some point you want to throw your hat in the ring.”

Livingston said he decided to open a brewery as he was familiar with the process of brewing beer. He worked in Boston as a mechanical engineer designing green-energy wastewater treatment systems that were installed at breweries in California. Livingston also brews his own beer at home.

The name Floodwater Brewing Co. is a nod to the flood caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

“If the water was a foot taller, the bridge and this building would’ve been wiped out,” Livingston said.

While Livingston renovated the space by himself, he said he received some help from his father, a trained carpenter. Livingston’s brother, Ezra, also contributed to Floodwater, providing artworks and painting a mural on the wall.

Setting up the brewery came with some challenges, Livingston said. A year into renovations, to support the brewery, Livingston became a full-time process controls engineer for Crane Currency, a firm contracted to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

“It’s hard for anyone to come up with an idea and to act on it and really invest yourself in it. It’s hard for me, as well,” Livingston said. “There are different levels of risk with any idea, and this one was a pretty big risk, looking back on it.”

Livingston said he stayed motivated to work two jobs and open the brewery partially because of the money he’d poured into it.

“Everything costs more and takes longer than you expect,” Livingston said. “I was putting everything toward this.”

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