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Community Beer Works: It’s close, but needs your help!

A nano brewery is coming to the West Side (see history), and with it comes a new generation of micro brewers who will stake their claim in the Buffalo’s brewing tradition. “This is going to be the first in what will most likely be a number of nano breweries opening in Buffalo,” Ethan Cox (lead photo), President of Community Beer Works (CBW), told me. “This nano brewery started off with a few of us talking about starting a home brewing club. The more we talked about it, the more we felt that there was something bigger that we should be working on. We have seven owners who are contributing towards this business, and we’re documenting the process in hopes that others will be able to use the notes as a guide. The way we look at it, today’s home brewers are tomorrow’s industry brewers, thanks to the achievable scale of the nano brewery.”

The building that houses CBW is part of the defunct Meyer Malting Company – a fun fact that not many people are aware of. Back in November of 2006 I wrote about this building’s renovated neighbor, Abaca Press. In what has turned out to be a feel-good measure, the owners of Abaca have already started to print up a number of t-shirts for the nano brewery – a relationship that will surely continue to grow. When I stopped over to the brewery on Saturday, there were a number of people busy knocking out a doorway between the buildings, thus creating a public entranceway on the side of the structure. The entranceway will lead into the service room where customers will be able to fill up their growlers. From the start there will be two ‘beer geeky’ brews dedicated to visiting hop heads, while the majority of production will be devoted to keeping the initial four business outlets supplied (Elmwood Village Beer Merchant, Blue Monk, Coles and Goodbar). 
^Top right – Brewmaster Rudy Watkins testing out a home brew | Bottom left – Co-owner Dave Foster takes a swing at the wall
Community Beer Works has come a long way, but is still not yet at the point of opening. Once all of the necessary work is completed on the interior, the mill room, the walk-in cooler and fermentation chambers will be installed. Upon completion of the buildout, the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) will be issued. Then The State will give its stamp of approval and brewing will commence. At that point Buffalo will have a brew-lovers hub dedicated to a micro beer community that has seen tremendous market growth over the past few years. The story doesn’t end there though…
In order to get to that C of O, there is still one more hurdle to cross. After turning on the industrial water line leading to the building, workers realized that the pipe was leaking and needed to be replaced… an unexpected inconvenience that will ultimately cost $15,000. From the beginning, Ethan and the rest of the owners launched a Kickstarter campaign just for this sort of setback. Well, the setback is here, and the good folks from CBW are asking the community to come to the rescue. Depending on the size of the donation, CBW has a matching gift reward (a way for them to say thanks) that the donor will receive. The rewards range from pint glasses to beer naming rights… the project funding deadline is December 15, and so far over $10,000 has already been pledged. If the goal of $15,000 is reached, we’ll have an operating nano brewery on the way (as early as mid-January. If you’re a beer (and Buffalo) lover, then consider donating a couple of bucks to help out a start-up nano brewery.
This nano brewery project is going to an incredible addition to the city in so many ways. Did you know that the spent grains will be delivered to the Massachusetts Avenue Project in order to feed chickens? The grains will also be used for the worm farm located at the aquaponics facility. CBW will be using partial solar heated brewing water, and will become a hub for people who are looking to learn about the art of brewing through club tours, demonstrations, tastings, etc. The building allows for plenty of growth – something that Ethan Cox sees as a big plus for the enterprise. “Not only will we be able to grow as needed,” Ethan told me. “We’re also going to be able to teach others how to open successful breweries. The more local breweries we have, the more buying power we have. Thankfully NY State now offers hop varietals in small volumes, but our goal is to establish a malt-buying cooperative collective.”
Visit Community Beer Works on Facebook.
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