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Brewed, crushed, or distilled: Microbrew explosion









When the highly anticipated Community Beer Works nanobrewery finally opened this spring, Ethan Cox, president and cofounder, spoke at a Blue Monk dinner in the brewery’s honor about the need for more than just one new brewery in the Buffalo area. “I hope to have fifteen new breweries in Buffalo in the next five years. That is three breweries a year. I think that’s doable,” he said, to a round of applause. A look at the number of new breweries on the horizon indicates that he may be right.

With a facility in the works on Lake Street in Wilson, Woodcock Brothers Brewery is taking Niagara County’s first step toward becoming a beer destination as well as a wine region. Woodcock is slated to open in mid-September with an Oktoberfest grand opening. “This has taken about a year longer than we thought, but now it’s full steam ahead,” says Tim Woodcock, partner in the company with brother Mark, and their wives Debbie and Andrea. “We’re pretty excited.” They’ll be offering an India Pale Ale (IPA), a porter, and light blonde ale initially, as well as pizza—baked in a wood-fire oven—to accompany the full-production brewery.

Phil Internicola of Pearl Street Grill and Brewery announces that his team plans to open its new brewpub at the Hotel Lafayette in June, 2013. “The new place will be called The Pan American Grill & Brewery, and will feature a lineup of standard beers completely different from those at Pearl Street, although there will be some occasional ‘guest appearances’ of beers made at PSGB and vice-versa,” Internicola explains. Watch for updates.

Mainspring Alehouse & Restaurant in Hamburg, planning to open later this year, will offer eight taps, seven of which will be brewed on site on a ten-barrel system. Their list of brews includes a flagship such as an Extra Special Bitter, a stout, an IPA, and seasonal offerings. The facility itself is currently in the design process.

Big Ditch Brewery is still in planning stages, so all that founders Matt Khan and Corey Catalano have to show at this point is their beer. But if that’s any indication, Buffalo’s in for a treat. With backgrounds in biotechnology––invaluable for a brewing career––and a passion for creating innovative spins on classic styles, the Big Ditch brewers already have an impressive lineup of prototype beers. Their Pilsner, Apple Cinnamon beer, black IPA, and brown ale are solid across the board; each has a slight and unexpected flavor tweak––prominent smoky malt in the black IPA, for example—that’s completely restrained and cleanly presented. Sample some yourself: Khan and Catalano are often out pouring their work at local craft beer spots.

Thanks to blogs and social media, it’s now possible to follow breweries on their journey to opening day; Community Beer Works elevated this practice to an art form and made the entire city a part of their story, from their first prototype brews and location scouting to their fundraising efforts and grand opening. Buffalo’s newest startups are following suit, which means an education and up-to-date information for the drinker—and maybe enough inspiration to convince others they have what it takes to open their own businesses. It’s hard to overestimate the number of great ideas that were conceived over a beer.   




Catch up on the region's current bevergae scene with other stories from this series:

Brewed, crushed, or distilled: Moving beyond icewine in Niagara, Ontario

Brewed, crushed, or distilled: Distill my beating heart

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