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We’ll Drink to That / Brewing roundup


Following a spate of openings and expansions with more on tap for 2018, Western New York’s local breweries are ringing in the fall with a slew of returning seasonal favorites as well as new releases.


At Community Beer Works, located at Niagara and Lafayette streets in the City of Buffalo, an entire new facility further south on the West Side is planned for early 2018. The current location, which can brew about 1,000 barrels per year, will remain open as well, says sales manager Brendan Van Allen.


The new site will have the capacity for 4,800 barrels. Large-scale production will move to the new location at 7th and Jersey, while the original location is used for test batches and on-demand brewing of small quantities. “We’re having a hard time keeping everything in stock, and it’s been like that for a couple of years,” Van Allen says, referring to supplying bars, restaurants and retailers as well as the brewery’s onsite tap room. With the larger location, they will also be able to can their own beer. Currently they produce occasional runs of cans, and canning has to be done with a mobile system that is brought to the site.


CBW is also releasing a popular seasonal more widely this year. Previously Alpaca Porter was only available at Hydraulic Hearth, where it was made onsite. Now, starting in November 2017, it will be sold in other locations as well.


The added capacity will also mean more sales outside the WNY region, with distribution being expanded all over New York State. A Niagara Falls satellite location in opening (approximately) the summer of 2018, when production capacity at the new brewery is fully established.


Big Ditch Brewing Company, which began brewing in 2014 and opened its downtown Buffalo tap room in 2015, offers its Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale in cans for the first time this year. Since tripling their brewing capacity in the past year and expanding sales to Rochester as well as locally, Big Ditch president Matt Kahn says they saw higher sales every week from January 2017 through the fourth of July.


Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale is featured at the Big Ditch tap room through mid November. Later in the season, Big Ditch is featuring Make Me Want to Stout, a 4.5% ABV coffee stout made with Public Espresso (available only on draft), and Fresh Baked, a spiced winter ale. Fresh Baked is available in cans (for the first time) starting in late November.


Kahn describes Make Me Want to Stout as “really drinkable but still complex and tasty,” and, with the coffee taste and low alcohol content, the perfect companion to early afternoon games.


Longtime Buffalo favorite Flying Bison Brewing Company also has seasonal releases that are available outside tap rooms for the first time this year. Blackbird Oatmeal Stout and MacBison Scotch Ale are being bottled and sold in stores this fall. Flying Bison also releases its popular Spot Coffee Stout this month.


In Chautauqua County, brand manager Nathan Arone says Southern Tier Brewing Company is brewing one of its strongest beers to date; 14.7% Monstrous Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. Four more seasonals are also being released this month, one new for 2017 and three returning. Look in area retailers for old favorites Blackwater Series Choklat Stout, Old Man Winter Ale, 2XMAS Spiced Holiday Ale, and the brand new Cinnamon Role Imperial Ale.    


Jessica Keltz is a lawyer, writer, beer drinker, city dweller and recent Buffalo repatriate.


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