Flying Bison Brewing Company has entered the beer garden game. Brewery founder and operator, Tim Herzog, started building out the two phase beer garden last year, as a way to provide his beer fans with a way to relax and play outdoors (with beer in hand). First phase was, as Tim describes it, “The relaxing beer garden,” which is found in the front of the “agricultural inspired building”.
This beer garden overlooks the sprawling parking lot where Flying Bison hosts its food truck events. The patio is a poured concrete floor that resembles stone, surrounded with a low compressed Unilock wall. Unilock, a Canadian company, with US headquarters directly next door to Flying Bison, specializes in permeable locking ground pavers – the wall at the beer garden is considered “the tallest” Unilock wall in Buffalo (check out the Buffalo Idea Center).
Tim is the president of Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association (BNBA)
The beer garden features a number of sturdy wooden pergolas, where Tim hopes to grow hop vines and barley (from seeds). Tim wants customers to interact with the brewery’s raw materials, which will also provide shade. The pergolas were made at Buffalo’s FX Matt brewing’s carpenter shop, before being fashioned together “like Lincoln Logs” at the site. The patio tables are upcycled from sawn off beer barrels. Add a couple of oversized umbrellas, a few board games, versatile outdoor furniture, afternoon sun, and wafting live music (Thursdays is Irish Music Sessions), and yes, we have all the makings for “a relaxing beer garden”.
Tim’s wife gave him a home brew starter kit as a gag gift – that’s how he got into the brewing arena.
This spring, Tim and his team got to work on Phase II of the beer garden – a large roped off pea gravel area to the east side of the brewery. This is considered the “more active beer garden”, with a number of sporadic seating arrangements and outdoor games – including cornhole, a custom made giant Connect Four, and a washer ring toss.
Incredible as it might seem, my wife and I played cornhole for the first time. I always wondered how the game got its name. Tim explained that the bean bags are filled with corn, and that as they hit the wooden planks, the corn emits dustings of cornflour that help the bags to slide along the surface (and hopefully into the hole). Tim made mention that the second Thursday of the month is dedicated to cornhole tournaments, where everyone is invited to partake in the action. Next time we pay a visit, we will have to try our hands at the washer ring toss, which looked kinda cute and fun.
Tim is originally from Rochester.
The heavy duty picnic tables were made in East Aurora. The resin Adirondack-looking chairs have built in beer holders. The “more active beer garden” offers both sun and shade. There’s plenty of room to lounge around drinking beer with friends, which Tim said is really the whole point – the games are an aside.
“We’re all about the beer,” he said. “So far, customers have loved the beer garden, because it’s Buffalo, and it’s great to be outdoors, drinking beer, and enjoying the nice weather that we’re having right now.”
Tim is the person the person who came up with the idea for Buffalo’s Skyride.
Before we departed, Tim pointed out that there were additional opportunities to expand the beer garden as it grows more popular. Phase I and Phase II are connected by a walkway, with a small gate, making it easy to get from one to the other. At some point down the road, when Tim “wins the lottery”, he’s got some pretty big visions for converting more of the grounds surrounding the brewery into a massive outdoor beer oasis. In the meantime, I’m happy with everything that I experienced yesterday, and while I’m a newbie at cornhole, I must say that it was a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be.