November 1st, 2016 – Day 1
In an initiative aimed to introduce New York State-made craft beverages to the Brooklyn market, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Empire State Development and Taste NY brought five Brooklyn craft buyers and experts to Buffalo to learn about the local craft beverage scene and sample products. Makers from the Buffalo Niagara Region had the opportunity to provide newfound information on their available products to Brooklynites.
At times, it seems difficult for upstate makers to break into the downstate market. In creating connections between buyers and makers, it is critical to spread the word about the upstate craft beverage industry to help them market their products in New York City.
Brooklynites in attendance included Al Duvall from Brooklyn Brewery, Michael Brooks from Bed-Vyne Brew, Clara Dalzell from Bed-Vyne Wine & Spirits, Kevin Johnson from Bedford Hall and Peter Lengyel from the Kings County Brewers Collective.
The first stop on the road trip was Niagara Falls. The three waterfalls straddle the border between Canada and the United States. More specifically, they straddle the border between the province of Ontario and the state of New York.
Woodcock Brothers Brewery
Located in Wilson, New York, Woodcock Brothers Brewery began with two brothers and one crazy idea. Before becoming a brewery, the property was a dry storage facility. Now, it is known as the first brewery in Niagara County to make its own beer on site. Fueling Niagara’s growing tourism industry, Woodcock Brothers Brewery includes a brewery, restaurant, tasting room and porch on Lake Street, making it a well-positioned site that offers beer, food and outdoor seating.
Blackbird Cider Works
Nestled on a beautiful farm overlooking Lake Ontario, BlackBird Cider Works produces hard ciders made from apples grown in its very own orchard. Cider was once one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the United States among early settlers and colonists, and has only recently enjoyed a remarkable comeback. Founder and cider maker Scott Donovan became interested in hard ciders after living in the beautiful Puget Sound area of Washington State and discovering the craft ciders of that region. Originally from upstate New York, he returned to Rochester, NY in 2005 to fulfill his dream of establishing his own hard cidery. Located on the Niagara Wine Trail only an hour from both downtown Buffalo and Rochester, BlackBird Cider Works offers 12 hard ciders that have won multiple awards. BlackBird Cider Works is a must-see location on a brewery-winery-distillery-cider crawl!
The next stop was Arrowhead Vineyards, which is located on the Niagara Wine Trail. This beautiful seven-acre vineyard focuses on quality vinifera grapes and wines. Arrowhead Vineyards crafts its wines by hand in small lots, showing discipline and heart with every pour. It has a focus on making wines that pair well with food, particularly Syrah and Meritage blends of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, Malbec and merlot. They also have a wine list that includes chardonnay, Riesling, pinot noir, gewürztraminer and ice wine. Arrowhead Vineyards focuses on organic farming – the technique of growing its own grapes without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Cheers!
New York Beer Project
Opened recently in November 2016, the New York Beer Project is a 17,000 square-foot brewery built from scratch on Transit Road in Lockport, north of the Erie County line. Owners Kelly and Kevin Krupski used Grand Central Terminal in New York City as a model for the brewery’s design. Cranking out Lockport Larger, IPAs, Coffee Milk Stout, Buckleberry Wheat and additional seasonal flavors, this location has become a second home to the local community!
12 Gates Brewing Company
12 Gates Brewing Company was the last stop of the day. Opened in 2015 by a group of eight owners, the facility features a tap room, light fare and a range of beers to choose from. The food menu consists of snack items to pair with beer – from Bavarian pretzel sticks, to beer cheese, to panini sandwiches. It was the perfect way to end the first day of the tour – with a beer in hand!
November 2nd 2016, Day 2
The second day of the road trip began at Lakeward Spirits. This family-run distillery specializes in vodka and will soon be producing gin. Lakeward Spirits produces high-quality, artisanal whiskeys, vodkas, gins, and infusions from scratch, using New York State farm products. Reclaimed woods and materials were utilized in the construction of the facility.
Lockhouse Distillery was the first distillery to open in Buffalo New York after Prohibition. Lockhouse is dedicated to crafting fine artisanal spirits with a focus on high quality production and local ingredients. The distillery’s vodka is made from concord grapes, an asset to Western New York. An investment in local agriculture, New York’s number one economic driver, Lockhouse Distillery should be on your list! In interacting with the guide, the Brooklyn Chamber’s delegation offered to send the distillery lychees, an ingredient not easily located in the area.
Big Ditch Brewing
The Big Ditch Brewing Company is a craft beer brewery located in downtown Buffalo, NY. Dedicated to providing quality, delicious, innovative and drinkable craft beers to Western New York, all brews are produced in the company’s Criveller site. Inside the facility, there are five 40-barrel fermenters, brite tanks and barrel. Its name speaks to the working title of the Erie Canal, the historic waterway that altered the trajectory of Buffalo and the Great Lakes region.
Community Beer Works
The following stop was Community Beer Works, Buffalo’s first nanobrewery. It began providing fresh, high quality, local beer in April 2012. The founders all have roots in Buffalo and a clear goal in mind: To foster a sense of community and place through enriching their hometown through the production of good beer. Community Beer Works is a 1.5 bbl brewery, which translates to one and a half barrels, equivalent to 47 U.S. gallons per batch! Tours and merchandise are available on site.
While much of its beer is unique and experimental, Resurgence Brewing hold themselves to the highest quality standards. Some of its funkier brews include the Loganberry Wit, a vanilla cappuccino pumpkin ale that’s reminiscent of a nice, spiced pie; and Sponge Candy Stout, made with real sponge candy from Watson’s. Jeff Ware, Owner of Resurgence Brewing, describes the company as a “mix between a traditional German beer garden and a microbrewery, we make beer for production to the local market but we also have a unique experience.”
Thin Man Brewery
The final stop was Thin Man Brewery, known as the only brewery operating in Buffalo’s historic Elmwood Village. Operations began just five weeks before the Chamber’s visit, and a variety of IPAs, craft lagers, saisons, ales and stouts are offered. Its name stems from Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory’s 1949 precursor to the modern crash test dummy. The crash test dummy quickly became the muse for Thin Man’s brewery venture, symbolizing “the ingenuity, innovation and commitment to quality that have always had a home in the region of Buffalo.” The brewery also expressed the notion of possibly distributing to Brooklyn very soon!
November 3rd 2016 – Day 3
Before heading to the 42 North Brewing Company, on the road trip’s final day, the Chamber delegation took a short break and visited Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the National Football League Buffalo Bills!
42 North Brewing Company
Drawing influence from century-old styles and methods from Belgium, Germany and beyond, 42 North Brewing Company encompasses a team of knowledgeable beer operators including Chief Brewing Officer Clay Keel, Chief Brewing Officer, Brewer Naz Drebot and Brewer and Head of Recipe Development Alex Sowyrda. They brew a diverse mix of artisan ales and lagers including IPA’s, Belgian Wit, Pilsner and Saison. The brewery, which is in the Village of East Aurora, is a must-see facility.
New York State has a robust craft beverage industry that continuously needs the awareness and support of the local community and beyond. Empire State Development and Taste NY have been a vital source of support to the growing beverage community in New Yok State by promoting a vigorous and growing state economy and encouraging business investment and job creation.
Brooklyn Chamber Vice President of Operations Ilan Stern said, “We need to focus on the workforce that’s provided in the state, the real people making a difference. We can do that by informing people about what it means to be a craft brewer or distiller in the industry and educating people about the industry’s uniqueness and variety of flavor profiles.”