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Woodcock Brothers brewing up expansion plans

WILSON – Big ideas are brewing in the Village of Wilson.

Expanded seating, quicker turn-around in the kitchen, widespread distribution of their beer – and maybe even the creation of a combination banquet/concert hall – are in the works or, at least, on the drawing board, as Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co. takes business to the next level.

Mark and Andrea Woodcock and Tim and Debbie Woodcock initially offered four original beers when they opened the doors of their brewery/restaurant in a converted, century-old Cold Storage facility at 638 Lake St. in November 2012.

They now offer a dozen varieties, and intend to start “canning” their Niagara Lager this week, creating 4,000 cans of their popular brew with an eye on widespread distribution through Certo Brothers, according to Mark Woodcock.

“Our goal is to be in the major supermarkets, like Tops and Wegmans, and in Consumer Beverage,” said Woodcock.

The kitchen boasts two wood-fired ovens and Woodcock said a third will soon be up and running, expediting meals for hungry patrons.

“We’ve had a very patient public, but the new oven is here, we just haven’t had a chance to put it in yet,” said Woodcock. “It will be in by at least Memorial Day and ready for the summer crowds.”

Woodcock said they’ve also decided to put more tables and chairs in what has been the banquet room, using it for regular dining.

“This will give us a seating capacity of over 100, not counting the outside patio, which seats about 30 more, as well as seating at the bar,” he said. “We’re going to have this new dining room where we can still have banquets there, too, when we need it.”

Speaking of banquets, the owners have plans drawn up for a “big banquet/concert hall, with a stage,” Woodcock said. “It would seat 300 to 400 people, and we could have banquets and weddings there. We have the plans and maybe we’ll have this ready next year.”

The spot where the potential banquet/concert hall is planned is currently an empty space on the north side of the building, he said.

“We had been hoping for a distillery there, but that didn’t work out and we figured, we have this empty space, so let’s do something with it that the community can use,” he said. “We’re putting together some funding packages and trying to get some low-interest loans from the state for this.”

Woodcock owns Ricmar Electric in North Tonawanda, started by his father, Richard, more than 30 years ago. Tim serves as a foreman and project coordinator. This background came in handy when they renovated and repurposed the nearly 45,000-square-foot site to the tune of nearly $1.5 million.

When they opened the brewery, after two years of renovation, they started with four beers and have expanded to a dozen, experimenting with new offerings all of the time, Woodcock said.

“We have a new, smoked maple Porter and an Irish stout,” he said. “And, we’ve taken our winter ale and stowed it away in barrels used to store bourbon, so it will be barrel-aged. That will be delicious.

“And we’ve collaborated with Leonard Oakes Winery for a barrel-aged Belgian rye ale with a tart cherry flavor,” he added.

“They’re bottling it for us at the winery and it will only be available here. It’ll be ready within the next couple of weeks.”

“I think it is absolutely spectacular for this village to see them expand like this,” said Wilson Mayor Bernard “Bernie” Leiker. “The village really needs it. And, the family has been just terrific with everything going on here. I truly applaud them.”

When the brothers opened the brewery, Tim was the brewmaster. Mark said the time constraints presented by their day jobs necessitated the hiring of two brewers.

“We hired Matt Redpath, who had been head brewer for Gordon Biersch and he’s a real artist, and we hired Vandra Ruppel, who had been a waitress here and went to brewery school in Canada and is now our secondary brewer,” he said. “They are two very talented brewers.”

The Woodcocks also lease space in small shops lining the plaza they created next to the brewery.

“We have a women’s apparel store, a beauty shop, an antique store and a doctor who will move in April 1,” he said. “That leaves one open space and two people have approached us, separately, with a liquor store idea.”

He said that while this time of year was slow the first two years they were open, business has not been affected this winter.

“If you make it worth the trip, they (customers) make it,” he said.