Construction on Community Beer Works’ new supersized brewery began this past June. In September, work kicked into full gear. After removing debris and junk that filled eleven 30-yard dumpsters, including a boat and a 240 foot circus tent, CBW’s primary partners Ethan Cox and Chris Smith could finally get a better perspective of the massive space. And by all accounts, it is massive. See history of development.
Once the junk was removed from the 13,000 square foot interior, work began on laying down a new roof, installing skylights, and building out the taproom bar. The 7000 square foot taproom will soon be flanked by two patios – a street side patio at the front of the building, and a courtyard patio with fire pit in back.
The back patio will also feature plenty of greenery, including hop vines as plant shade. Both patios are accessible by clear-viewing garage doors that roll up when the weather is nice. The garage doors also allow for plenty of natural light to flood the space, year round. New concrete floors have been poured, which not only look sharp, they also help with pitch to the drains.
The layout of the taproom is pretty neat. There’s elevated seating on top of an old dry dock. The tasting room/restaurant will offer bar stool seating, as well as plenty of tables/moveable furniture that can change the configuration/flow of the room. Ethan mentioned to me that he was particularly happy that customers could see into the brewery area, which is something that he felt was important. He said that the brewery experience should offer vantage points onto the brew tanks.
Chris clued me into the full kitchen operation, that will focus primarily on “the waffle”. I was not aware that a menu could be designed around a small crisp batter cake – apparently the waffle has come a long way in both the sweet and savory realms. Cooks are now experimenting will all sorts of crazy waffle concoctions, which will soon be served up at CBW pick-up windows, and at the bar. Ethan reminded me that this is a production brewery first and foremost, although both he and Chris both geeked out over the waffle ideas, which I can’t wait to try myself.
Speaking of “geeking out”, beer lovers are going to go gaga over the “members only” private bottle/draft shop that is essentially going to be a side room dedicated to cold storage lockers (for mugs and beers), as well as a clubhouse for beer trading sessions and beer releases, featuring brews from all over the world. There will also be a tap handle or two, accessible to club members for sampling special brews. Heck, there’s even talk of a special beer jacket, though no mention of smoking pipes and slippers at this point.
The brew house will start off with a 20 barrel system, that can handle a 5000 barrel yearly production. All of the tanks are being manufactured in the US, despite the steeper cost associated with the decision. Ethan mentioned that they would not have it any other way. The brewery also has space for a giant cooler, packaging line, dry storage, tank expansions, and shower facilities for the brewmasters.
This is exciting news for this particular lower West Side neighborhood that is one of the last West Side pockets to experience the type of rebirth that has become “the new norm” between Richmond and Niagara. Just down the road the GBUAHN Health Facility recently opened. Chris mentioned that the neighbors are excited to see all of these new investments, including the recent infrastructure work on Niagara Street, a block away. Once open, the brewery will be the epitome of a “neighborhood brewery”, because there is no parking… thankfully! The owners told me that, thanks to the Green Code, they did not have to accommodate for people parking their cars in a lot. Instead, they chose to dedicate space to a patio, which means that this will be a truly walkable and bike-able brewery.
This new CBW brewery is located in close proximity to Downtown Buffalo, and the Peace Bridge. Hopefully, Canadian beer lovers/avid cyclists will find their way to this convenient spot. Ethan and Chris are both confident that the doors will open something in April of 2018, just in time for bike season.
It’s an exciting time for CBW – not only is the new brewery moving full speed ahead, the smaller Lafayette brewery (currently in operation) is expected to temporarily close in order to get a much-needed overhaul (once the 518 7th Street location is fully operational). The Lafayette brewery will continue to roll out small batch releases, while offering space for R&D. The tasting room will also be more customer friendly when it reopens down the road.
Ethan and Chris certainly have their hands full at this time. With a brewery in Niagara Falls, two in Buffalo, and potential plans for a couple more down the road, it looks as if the two are going to continue to ride this sudsy brewery wave for a long time coming.