The ability to watch beer being made, and to drink it in an attractive space in the same building, is growing rapidly in Buffalo.
Downtown, on the West Side and in the Larkin District, craft breweries are opening up, bringing beers made in smaller batches to a city whose beer drinkers have more often than not reached for major label beers such as Labatt Blue.
Big Ditch Brewing Co. is going into an old vacant building on Ellicott Street, Resurgence Brewing Co. has plans to open on Niagara Street, and Flying Bison Brewing Co., which has operated on Ontario Street for 13 years, is looking at larger space on Seneca Street.
Plans for all three beer projects were approved Tuesday by the city’s Planning Board.
Big Ditch Brewing is creating a destination for beer lovers in a part of downtown that is seeing new investments, from Holling Place Apartments on Washington Street to Tappo Restaurant and the Electric Tower, both on Ellicott Street, and a planned seafood restaurant in the former Howard Shoes building on East Huron Street.
“This is an area that has been evolving,” said David Chiazza, executive vice president of Iskalo Development.
Iskalo owns the former Verizon fleet maintenance building at 337 Ellicott St., and in addition to planning out the space for its new tenant, Iskalo has also been helping Big Ditch with its business plan.
Because Big Ditch is a start-up company, it’s important for it to be taken seriously, and that the new location offers a “sense of arrival,” Chiazza said.
The building’s facade had nothing that caught the eye of passers-by, and didn’t offer much incentive to draw people in, developers said. So windows are being added, and three-foot lettering spelling out the name of the company will serve as a sign at the top of the building.
Farther south, Flying Bison is hoping to move into a 12,000-square-foot, one-story building at 840 Seneca St., which would offer indoor and outdoor tasting areas.
Tim Herzog, a principal with the company, said they are waiting on a final environmental determination to see if the site is suitable for a brewery. If it is, construction would last about 12 weeks, Herzog said.
Larkin Development partner Joseph Petrella voiced his company’s support for the brewery. “It’s been lonely,” Petrella said of the adjacent Larkin District.
On the West Side, Resurgence Brewing is taking over al space on Niagara Street to construct a beer production facility, an indoor tasting area and outdoor beer garden.