Just as spring has finally seemed to arrive in Buffalo, so has the newest kombucha microbrewery and taproom. Big Norwegian will land at 500 Seneca later this season and feature an exciting array of kombucha flavors from a seasoned brewer—owner and founder Andy Bannister, aka the “Big Norwegian.”
Big Norwegian will be a giant ode to Bannister’s heritage and family. Hailing from the First Ward, and a current resident of Larkinville with his wife and two young daughters, his new kombucha undertaking is set right in between these locations, in the Hydraulics District. Bannister’s father-in-law, a carpenter, built the central kombucha bar in the taproom. Bannister’s wife, an artist, will hand paint the walls with rosemaling murals, a decorative style of Norwegian folk art originating from the Norwegian countryside. This niche design of bright, rich primary and secondary flowing colors was created by Norwegians to brighten their homes during the darkness of winter and liven their spirits. And it’s arriving at exactly the right time, to complement when temperatures begin to rise and sunshine takes over the city.
Big Norwegian will offer four flavors to start, derived from a green tea or black tea base. The bases also serve to add an additional two types of unflavored kombucha available for purchase. I tried the green tea base, and with its subtle sweetness, I didn’t even need a flavor. I was surprised to learn that this drink had no sugar added—it was sweet in itself from the balance of acetic and gluconic acid. “All of our flavors will offer less than 6 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving, with some having no sugar added at all,” Bannister told me. I am excited for the flavors though—blueberry lemongrass, lavender chamomile, ginger hibiscus and pomegranate citrus to start. I’m even more excited that something that tastes so good is also refreshing to drink and good for you.
One of my favorite parts of Big Norwegian is its location. While it’s located in the 500 Seneca building, its actual location is on the north side of the building, along Myrtle Avenue. Once you enter through a large iron gate, you are taken into a courtyard of businesses springing up—a hidden gem from the street, reminiscent of Neal’s Yard in London.
With seating inside and outside in the courtyard, Big Norwegian will also offer tours of its on-site production facility. Bannister wants to have a very “meet the maker” hands-on approach, and will offer his insight into the brewing process during tours. In addition to offering onsite taps, Big Norwegian will offer 32 oz. growlers for sale and a loyalty program for customers.
Once the opening is underway, Bannister plans to be involved in local farmers markets across the region (both in the city and suburbs) and partner with various restaurants and bars to sell his product to. Phase two of Bannister’s plan includes the individual bottling of kombucha for retail sale.
To start out, Big Norwegian will open in the afternoon on Thursdays and Fridays and throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to kombucha, they will also offer snacks to start, drawing from local businesses. Stay tuned for the opening date later this spring!
Big Norwegian Kombucha | 500 Seneca | Buffalo NY | 716-504-1551 | Facebook