By Bernice Radle – Buffalo’s Young Preservationists
Do you like our “Local Brews on Tues” series? Taste it for yourself! Join us on April 8th – 10th to taste the finest beers from around the Rust Belt. To kick off our weekend in PGH, we will be doing a “BYOB” Friday night opening event where everyone brings a six pack or growler of local beer with them. Thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we will also be able to serve some of the finest Pittsburgh foods drink, talk and meet so many cool young preservationists from across the Rust Belt!!! YES, you heard that right. Regional. Beer. Potluck. #BYOBrustbeltbeerparty
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program….
If there is one thing that is even better than beer, it’s when breweries open and make good beer inside historic buildings. Buffalo just happens to do this extremely well.
Buffalo is known for many things including chicken wings, snow and our 4am bar closings. 4am bar closings? Yes you read that right! We know how to drink beer. A mayor once said “Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game,” when a giant snowstorm was coming. We have a grain elevator wrapped to look like a six pack of beer and Labatt Blue moved their headquarters to Buffalo because we drank the their beer the most out of any area. I won’t even begin to talk about our awesome ability to kayak down a river filled with grain elevators and bar crawl at the same time! (Editor’s note: Bernice, don’t lie. You’re totally going to do that in a future post. You’re too excited about it not to.)
On top of that, it is no secret that BYP got its start by getting together to drink beers in local historic taverns and talking about preservation battles. Our happy hours are fairly infamous because they tend to attract 50 – 100 very passionate preservationists from around the area. Another reason why we love local taverns and breweries!
We have something we like to call “Beer Oriented Development” here in Buffalo, NY. Coined by Buffalo City Planner Chris Hawley, BOD is defined as “the ability of local craft brewing and distilling to attract people, dollars, and development.” Basically that means, when a brewery or cool craft tap house opens in a typically underserved area, it kickstarts attention and development in that area. BOD, much like TOD (transit oriented development), is a great way to help grow communities and increase the excitement needed to begin a rebound.
Let’s explore the brewing scene in Buffalo!
Pearl Street Brewery:
Perhaps our oldest brewery, Pearl Street opened in the late 80’s in Downtown Buffalo where saving buildings and drinking locally-made beer was pretty much unheard of. Pearl Street decided to set up shop downtown, saving an incredible set of brick row buildings from the wrecking ball for their brewery! Rumor has it that the owner of Pearl Street has some serious ties in Colorado with Breckenridge Brewery, which is a Denver staple. Try the Lighthouse or Trainwreck – two of Pearl Street’s classics!
This brewery decided to land inside one of Buffalo’s very few saw tooth buildings on the West Side of Buffalo. Resurgence is known for their Sponge Candy Stout, giant Jenga and their large patio. Before Resurgence, houses were selling for $1, if they dodged the demolition. Now? Two art galleries and a local fitness company have opened and a wood fired pizza place on the way.
Community Beer Works:
CBW wins the “first in” award. In 2012, these guys took the
plunge in Buffalo when very few would. They serve delicious unfiltered beer and do it very very well. They teamed up with Hydraulic Hearth to create a satellite brewery so Hydraulic could serve the freshest beer to their customers. CBW is nearing a big change – soon enough they will have a large tap room inside of a historic building located on the lower west side in an area that is ripe for BOD.
Big Ditch Brewing Co. :
Big Ditch Brewing Co. champions our Buffalo history all day, every day. “Strength, Pride and Ambition, the history of the Erie Canal” is a mural that looks over the brewery and happens to be one of the most highly instagrammed photos of 2015 in Buffalo. Well, Big Ditch took over a nondescript warehouse and turned it into an epic brewery equipped with meeting spaces, garage doors for the summer and a second floor. Located in Downtown Buffalo, Big Ditch helped to inspire others to invest in what now is known as “restaurant row” along Ellicott Street.
Gene McCarthy’s :
Perhaps my all-time favorite chicken wing spot is also a brewery! Gene’s has done a lot for the old first ward over the last 100 years. Despite the fact that it hasn’t changed much over the years, Just recently, there have been proposals for a new cafe and their first shipping container house. If you go here, order the McCarthy’s wings – they are delicious!!
And there’s so much more! Including Flying Bison, Ellicottville Brewing Co., 42 North and many others… I feel like I could write forever but luckily for us, someone already did! You can read this powerpoint equipped with some of the best beer quotes I’ve ever seen. And if you’re thirsty for more, click here for the official buffalo beer guide.