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Flying Bison Brewing Co. building manufacturing facility in Larkin District

Flying Bison Brewing Co. is a few steps closer to having a new home in the Larkin District.

The microbrewery will begin tearing down a crumbling cinder block building at 840 Seneca St. in Buffalo this week, where it will build a new manufacturing and tasting facility. The $2 million project is expected to be completed by August.

The new space will eventually increase Flying Bison’s production capacity from 3,200 barrels to 10,000 barrels. It will also give the brewers more room to try a “series of bigger, stronger, after-dinner beers,” said principal Tim Herzog, “like an imperial stout, a double IPA, a barley wine, a Belgian trappist – something you would sip like a brandy instead of drinking a few pints of.”

A 2,000-square-foot retail section of the brewery will provide space for visitors to sit and sample a full-sized beer – something the roughly 80-square-foot retail area at its Ontario Street location lacks. Because the Ontario Street building doesn’t have a wall separating the retail area from production, Flying Bison is legally limited to serving tiny beer samples that Herzog called “thimble-sized.” The current tasting area is also cut off from the beer-making action of the brewery.

“That’s not what people want,” he said. “They want an intimate connection with the beer.”

The new place will have a glass wall so visitors can watch production from the retail section. It will also allow more access to the brewery for those interested in touring it, and it will eventually lead to expanded brewery tour hours.

The company had originally planned to retrofit the existing Seneca Street building, a dilapidated former truck garage. But after closer inspection, it became clear it would be more efficient to tear it down and build a new one.

“It’s the right way to do this,” Herzog said. “It’ll look better, it’ll look better longer, and it’ll function better to just go with a newer building.”

Flying Bison is seeking $500,000 in grant funds from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council to help with the project.

The brewery’s current space at 491 Ontario St., where Flying Bison leases a portion of a larger building, will be absorbed by that building’s owner and used as expanded warehouse space once Flying Bison vacates.

FX Matt Brewing Co., the Utica-based maker of Saranac beer, bought Flying Bison in 2010 when financial difficulties threatened to close the brewery. Today, about 46 percent of Flying Bison beer is produced at Matt’s Utica facilities.

When Flying Bison opened its doors in 2000, it was Buffalo’s first stand-alone, distributing brewery in the city since Iroquois Brewing closed in 1972.

Today, three new craft breweries are destined for the Queen City.

Resurgence Brewing Co. will open at 1250 Niagara St. in April. Construction is scheduled to begin soon on Big Ditch Brewing Co. at 55 E. Huron St. And the RiverWorks project, a $15 million entertainment complex on the 8-acre Wheeler-GLF grain elevator site near General Mills on Ganson Street, is slated to host another craft brewery called RiverWorks Brewing Co.