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WNY's craft brewing business is hopping – with much more to come

There have never been more craft breweries in Western New York and, if you ask craft brewers, they'll tell you there is room for even more.

Though overall beer sales dropped in 2018 by 1.2 percent, craft beer sales grew steadily at 5 percent, according to the trade organization Brewers Association.

Although its once double-digit growth has begun to slow, craft beer has plenty of room to keep going. Comprising just under 13 percent of the market, there is a $111.4 billion pie where it can continue to woo sales from imported beers and the big, corporate domestics.

The stronger the local beer scene is, the better chance its craft brewers have of fighting off juggernaut rival brands like Bud Light. If they can convert traditional beer drinkers, "We'll all be fine," said Tim Herzog of Flying Bison Brewing Co.

Here's a look at some up and comers:

  • Jamestown Brewing Co., 119 W. Third St. in Jamestown. The 20-barrel brewery will have brewing operations in the basement, a bar and restaurant on the first floor and a banquet center on top. Head brewer Matt Redpath comes from Woodcock Brothers Brewing in Wilson and Chautauqua Institute alum Carrie Gifford will be head chef, pairing craft beer, wine and mead with a menu sourced from local farmers. It plans to eventually add a canning line. It hopes to open in March.
  • Belt Line Kitchen and Brewery, 545 Swan St. Opened earlier this month, it started out with New England India Pale Ale, pale ale, kolsch and a stout on tap.
  • Big Inlet Brewing, 6169 Elm Flat Road in Mayville. Located on a former working farm, it makes small batches using local ingredients. Now open, a beer garden and pond are on the way.
  • Froth Brewing Co., 700 Military Road. The 10-barrel brewery opened earlier this month. It occupies a completely revamped one-story, 6,500-square-foot warehouse and has five 20-barrel fermenters which will allow it to quadruple its output in the future if necessary. It has room for 12, but opened with five house beers on tap: an IPA called the Bread, a blonde ale called the Autograph, a double IPA called the DiMaggio, a German pilsner called Loyal to the Grain and a chocolate coconut stout called the Mounds Bar. Stay tuned for sour beers.
  • Prosper Brewing Co., 72 Webster St. in North Tonawanda. It is ready to open as soon as it receives some final documentation from the state. The three-barrel nanobrewery will make a variety of beers to include porter, stout, blonde ale, orange pale ale, Vienna lager, Munich Dunkel and possibly a sour Berliner Weisse. It will have 12 taps, two of which it hopes to reserve for hard ciders from a producer it will partner with if it can get the proper licensing. That same producer would also supply wine. A 40-seat tasting room will serve a small unique menu to include sauerbraten and pierogi.
  • BriteSmith, 5609 and 5611 Main St. in Williamsville. Located on the site of the former Center for Plastic Surgery, it will have a beer garden and a 100-seat restaurant. David Schutte, who owns Oliver's on Delaware Avenue and the Creekview restaurant next door to this brewery, hopes to open this year.
  • Hofbrauhaus, 190 Scott St. The beleaguered franchise was supposed to have opened several times over since it started planning its Buffalo location in 2014. Owner Kevin Townsell is now shooting to open this spring. Reminiscent of the historic Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany, the brewery will make and sell Hofbrauhaus beer exclusively. Expected to produce about 4,000 barrels each year, the former Bison Chip Dip plant is being transformed to host a beer hall with long tables and high ceilings, a beer garden, patio tables and a banquet room. It will accommodate about 1,000 people. Servers in traditional dirndls and lederhosen will serve German food and steins of beer. There will also be live German and Polish music once a month. The project has been delayed several times due to a location change, as well as permit, renovation and financing issues.
  • In the Mix Brewing & Creamery, 1693 East Ave. in Barker. Planning to open in March, it will serve specialty burgers, fries and milkshakes. The milkshakes will be made using beer or wine frozen custard and cream liqueurs.
  • Established breweries are growing and adding locations, too. Community Beer Works plans to open another brewpub at 324 Niagara St. in Niagara Falls this year. It already has a location at 520 7th St. in addition to its 15 Lafayette Ave. site. Resurgence Brewing Co. plans to open a second location in the former E&B Holmes Machinery Co. factory at 55 Chicago St. in the Old First Ward this year, in addition to its 1250 Niagara St. home base. Rusty Nickel Brewing Co. will soon add a taproom at 36 Broadway. It has a location in West Seneca that sells cider, mead, wine and spirits in addition to its own rotating host of craft beer. Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co., 38 Lake St. in Wilson, celebrated its sixth anniversary in November. In March, it plans to add a taproom in the Wurlitzer building, 908 Niagara Falls Blvd. in North Tonawanda. The brewpub with have a kitchen, a bar, a brew floor, an outdoor patio and seating for 120 people.

A rendering of BriteSmith brewery in Williamsville. (Rendering courtesy of David Schutte)

 

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