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Ellicottville Brewing Company remains a craft beer leader

ELLICOTTVILLE – Ellicottville Brewing Company is the type of place drinkers and diners alike should want to be stranded amid in inclement weather.

Can you and others enjoy the locale – with its three bars, expansive brewery and picturesque outdoor beer garden – in any climate? Of course. But when it’s a dark and stormy fall Saturday afternoon (as it was last weekend), we could think of worse places to be than under the timber beams of one of the region’s granddaddies of the craft beer game, one that first offered growlers of amber-hued microbrews two decades ago.

Visitors can enter off Monroe Street and dry off with a thick-and-frothy Black Jack Oatmeal Stout ($6) at the front bar, which strikes an impressive balance of rustic and regal. Antique enthusiasts can hoist pints of 2 Brothers Session IPA against the same backdrop after finding choice furniture pieces on the village’s main drag. Skiers can find a booth or barstools before discussing future Holiday Valley plans over rounds of EBC Imperial Series selections like Stainless Steel Obsession, a 7 percent ABV IPA named after its brewing tank casing.

And on a day drenched by the cold October rain, all can enjoy themselves inside a chalet-esque environment that’s emblematic of both the beers on tap and food on its lunch menu.

EBC’s 16 draft beers – which have advanced significantly in both style, quality and complexity since the brewery’s expansion in 2013 – give drinkers of all sophistications something to enjoy. Interested in a taste of fall, one accented by German Hallatauer hops and Munich malts? Order a Fall Festival. Want to stroke your beard and discuss tempo variations on the new Tame Impala album over an 8.4 percent ABV ale with hints of pear – and aged in French Bordeaux barrels? Try the Twentieth. And if you’re the type whose day grows brighter at the sight of blueberries floating atop your pint, order up EBC’s most popular selection, the subtly refreshing Blueberry Wheat.

(EBC does have a full bar for those who would rather refrain from beer.)

Once the beer order is in, it’s time for the food. Boasting a stellar rundown of lunchtime appetizers, soups and sandwiches, the brewery doesn’t rest on its taps to assure visitors leave satisfied. Apps like Belgian-style mussels ($12.99 for a single order) and sesame tuna wontons ($12.99) aren’t exactly a bowl of peanuts, and its cup of lamb vegetable ($4.99) isn’t your typical soup de jour. But for those simply seeking the simplicity of a burger with their beers, the EBC Brew Burger ($12.99) provides a solid option to flank such seasonal pints as Putin’s Thunder Baltic Porter (7 percent ABV).

The warmth of its entire operation helps it stand as its host village’s unofficial Welcome Center.

Ellicottville Brewing Co.

Where: 28-30 Monroe St., Ellicottville

Scene: Craft beer-slinging ski lodge.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. (Food served until 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.)

Specials: None, but delicious craft beer and comfortable ambience? These offerings are special enough.

Try: the Black Jack Oatmeal Stout, perfect to enjoy in current or colder temperatures.

Wear: Something made of fleece, no matter the month.

Instagram op: Hoist a draft in front of the back barroom’s “White Album”-inspired John Lennon portrait by performance artist Michael Isreal.

Brewery tours: Available on Fridays (2 and 4 p.m.) and Saturdays and Sundays (noon, 2 and 4 p.m.) for $15 per person.

Load the trunk: Patrons can take home jugs full of EBC draft selections (starting at $14.99), or simply stock up on six-packs ($8.99) of choices like Buchan Nut Brown and the Brian Moorman-inspired Hang Time at the source.

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