What do you get when cross a golf course groundskeeper with three successful restaurateurs in Lewiston?
Visitors to the main drag in the Niagara County village will find out this weekend when the Brickyard Brewing Co. holds an open house as part of the Taste of Lewiston.
“We really want to try to wow people,” said Eric Matthews, who along with Ken Bryan owns of the new brewery, as well as the Brickyard Pub & BBQ next door and the neighboring Tin Pan Alley and Center Cut steakhouse restaurants.
They’ll run the new digs with help from Eric’s brother and corporate general manager, Steve.
The trio tapped John Meteer to brew beer for Brickyard Brewing. The award-winning homebrewer gained a following when he threw community beer bashes at his former home along the 14th tee of Niagara Falls Country Club – including during the iconic Porter Cup amateur golf tournaments – while he was assistant groundskeeper.
“I gave away beer for years. That’s how I ended up here,” said Meteer, who left a job as the superintendent of River Oaks Golf Club on Grand Island to become Brickyard’s brewmaster.
The public will get its first chance to sample at least four of his beers when Brickyard Brewing, 436 Center St., hosts its open house on Saturday.
The Taste of Lewiston runs from noon to 8 p.m.; Center Street will be closed between 7 a.m. and midnight between Sixth and Fourth streets.
Eric Matthews expects the brewery to open for good a week or two after that. Then he and others who have helped build the place will be able to stop fielding questions about opening day from passers-by who have watched construction unfold.
The launch party comes after a 16-month odyssey that cost almost $1 million – not including hundreds of thousands in sweat equity by the owners and staff – to transform the former Brio pizzeria into a two-story beer haven. Designed by James Fittante, owner Fittante Architects, the 8,500-square-foot space includes a taproom, two dining levels and outdoor patios, and an upstairs banquet hall that will seat 125 people.
Flashes of Western New York landmarks, past and present, will be part of the fun inside a setting that has the look and feel of an upscale saloon.
“We wanted a rustic feel,” Steve Matthews said. “Lewiston’s a very old town and we tried to capture that here.”
Tin ceilings, rough-hewn hemlock walls and beetle kill pine behind the first-floor bar set off the ambiance. A chandelier made with Ball mason jars – and help from Jack Routhier and Black Lab Metal Fab owner Dan Buttery – ties together the open-space floor plan in the center of the brewery.
Larry Manning, owner of Freedom Run Winery in Cambria, helped the Lewiston restaurant owners find much of the wood for the project in Pennsylvania Amish country, as well as a stained glass window on one of the landings between the two floors.
A Lewiston Council on the Arts grant helped cover the cost of local artists Thomas Paul Asklar and Matthew Sinclair Conroy to paint a mural on the wall outside the banquet room that includes Niagara Falls, the original Lewiston Presbyterian Church, the French Castle at Fort Niagara and other landmarks.
“It’s all pretty organic and flows together,” Steve Matthews said.
Meteer will use a 7-barrel Stout Tanks and Kettles system from Portland, Ore., that includes six fermenting tanks and six 5-barrel bright tanks that flank the first-floor taproom. He will make up to six brewery standards, as well as rotating seasonal beers and lots of small batches from a Sabco Brew Magic pilot system in the brewhouse.
He looks to start with a pilsner, New England-style India Pale Ale (IPA), double milk stout, Southeast Asian-style seasonal and a witbier. He also plans to brew a stock pale ale, farmhouse-style cucumber lemon blonde ale and a porter.
Brickyard Brewing will offer a pub-style food menu and use its beer in cheese soup and other dishes. Vinnie Pallaci is the head chef. Eric Matthews described the philosophy as “flexible menu, flexible beer.”
The downstairs bar will tout 20 taps, enough room for guest taps, which the owners expect to keep mostly for fellow Western New York craft beers.
“A lot of local breweries and brewmasters have reached out and offered their assistance to help us get up and running,” Steve Matthews said. “I can’t tell you how nice that feels.”
The brewery also will offer Labatts, as a way to pay homage to the Canadian beer-maker’s decision to put its U.S. headquarters in Buffalo.
Its beer list will complement the slate of 40 draft beers next door at the Brickyard BBQ & Pub, which will continue to offer varieties from around the world. The two restaurants will connect by a hallway, which will allow BBQ dining patrons to order beers from the brewery.
Brickyard Brewing also will offer wines and spirits. It will feature as many as 40 brands of tequila, just as the barbecue restaurant next store specializes in whiskeys and bourbons, and the Center Cut across the street on scotches.
The owners also will offer a Brickyard beer or two at their other establishments as the brewing process continues – and may offer their brands to other restaurants and taverns as demand and production allows.
“Our goal is to have something for everybody,” Meteer said. “I want the Bud Light crowd that comes in during the summer for concerts to be able to ask, ‘What can you recommend?’ And I want guys like me that seek out the juicy IPAs and the barrel-aged stouts, and everything in between, to be happy here.”
BEERS TO START
Brickyard Brewing Co. will offer pub-style food, spirits and wine. It will feature craft beer made on premises. Brewmaster John Meteer plans to offer at least four of the new beers during the Taste of Lewiston on Saturday and during the first few weeks the brewery is open. They'll include:
Ten Pints Pilsner: Fresh, light drinking. 5.5 percent alcohol, 20 International Bitterness Units (IBU).
White Bronco: A New England-style India Pale Ale (IPA) that Meteer describes as “super juicy,” hence the O.J. Simpson reference. “There’s lots of Pacific Northwest goodness” in its hops profile. 6.5 percent alcohol.
Gary Arthur’s: This double milk stout is an ode to Meteer’s father, “the first man I ever saw drink a dark beer,” Meteer said. 8 percent alcohol, 60 IBU.
Summers in Rangoon: Made with ginger, lemongrass, Thai chiles, lime zest and a good dose of hops from the U.S. and New Zealand. “A Doctor Evil reference for the Austin Powers fans, with a Southeast Asian vibe,” Meteer said. 6 percent alcohol, 35 IBU.
Witbier: This beer is as of yet unnamed. It has the characteristics of its American-made Belgian-style cousins with a mellowness and a smooth finish more reminiscent of true Belgian wits.
Meteer also plans to brew a stock pale ale, farmhouse-style cucumber lemon blonde ale and a porter.
For updates, visit facebook.com /brickyardbrewingcompany
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