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Club Watch: Aurora Brew Works

Here it is, craft beer cravers: Your destination has arrived – in the Southtowns, no less.

Aurora Brew Works in East Aurora is a “beer bar” and store that brings to Western New York a concept that is utterly refreshing. It’s a place for serious beer drinkers to taste, buy and talk about, well, tasting and buying.

So it’s not a pub, or a tavern, exactly. That means the Brew Works is not for everyone. If you’re seeking a Blue or a Coors Light, there are plenty of other options for you in E.A. The Bar Bill is next door, for instance; try the wings.

But if you’re one of the growing legions of Western New Yorkers with a real devotion to the art and taste of a craft beer, the Aurora Beer Works might just be heaven, and the giant glowing “BEER” sign in the back might be more welcoming than your own well-worn recliner.

I brought with me a beer expert, my brother-in-law Aaron – he accepts the “beer snob” label happily – from the Ithaca area. In fact, during my last visit to the land of gorges, I accompanied him to a beer bar located in the back of Ithaca Coffee Co.

The setting was simple – a bar, some tables and lots and lots of craft beer.

Aurora takes that concept and brings to it a more open space, a simple design, a sofa and some comfy chairs, and a vibe that is so chilled out and relaxed that slamming a beer glass on the counter would be like firing a cannon.

We walked in on a quiet Friday afternoon during Christmas week to a few older folks happily drinking at the bar, and two friendly employees. One gave us the breakdown: The six taps change constantly, and any beer in the store can be opened and tasted, too.

The beers on tap that Friday were an intriguing mix: the Whale (from Buffalo’s own Community Beer Works), Founders Pale Ale, the hilariously titled Pantius Droppus (from Ellicottville Brewing Co.), Magic Hat’s Heart of Darkness, Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Brooklyn Monster Ale.

We opted for four flights of brew for $10, choosing the same quartet: the Whale, Founders, Pantius Droppus (I can’t say that enough) and Heart of Darkness. Taking a seat at one of the several large tables, we began to imbibe, and, next, to explore.

Part of the fun of a visit to the Aurora Brew Works is actually getting up and browsing. The variety of beers, from Europe to Buffalo, is astounding, and pretty thrilling.

We saw two scenes that demonstrated just how strong Aurora’s client base has become: One middle-aged gentleman walked through the door, made a beeline for a bottle of Bastard Ale, and began feverishly hooting, “Ooh, ooh, ooh!” Ooh, indeed.

This was followed a few minutes later by an older gent arriving with, I kid you not, the happiest expression I’ve ever seen, short of my son’s when meeting Santa.

Remember what I said about this place being heaven for serious beer folk?

In addition to no Labatt, Coors, etc., you also won’t find much in the way of food; a microwave had a sign offering burritos, Hot Pockets, and meat and veggie pies. But we did see one duo bring in some piping hot wings from Picasso’s. (I would ask before doing this, especially since the other drinkers might consider robbing you.)

During our several hour visit, a soundtrack of mostly reggae played, and it fit the chilled atmosphere. No TV? No problem – it might actually disrupt the mood.

By the time we were ready to depart, we had each decided we were in love with the place. “It’s all about the beer here,” Aaron said, and, I must say, truer words have never been spoken.

Aurora Brew Works

Where: 191 Main St., East Aurora (652-2337)

Scene: A refined, chilled-out beer tasting bar and store for serious beer drinkers.

On tap: The list changes constantly, but on a recent Friday the beers on tap were: the Whale (from Buffalo’s own Community Beer Works), Founders Pale Ale, Pantius Droppus (from Ellicottville Brewing Co.), Magic Hat’s Heart of Darkness, Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Brooklyn Monster Ale.

Music: Reggae, during our visit.

Hours: Open from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.