A first-time visitor to 12 Gates Brewing Company may notice that it can be hard to find. Inducon Business Park on Earhart Drive near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is a sprawling campus of warehouses and office space.
Set off the road, past parking lots and garage doors, is a 30-barrel brewhouse with a warm and welcoming taproom. Western New Yorkers may think this location unusual, but nationwide, there’s a rich history of craft breweries flourishing in industrial parks.
The address offers unique benefits for patrons. Commercial airplanes coming in for a landing fly awesomely low overhead. Hopefully, this flight pattern is why 12 Gates named its tropical American IPA Landing Strip. The adjacent lot and lawn space allows for large outdoor events like Go Topless Day® for Jeep enthusiasts or the annual Rock the Gates music festival.
Launched in 2015, 12 Gates is only the second Williamsville-based brewery (after the Buffalo Brewpub, open since 1986). With a partnership of several owners, a brewmaster brought here from Tampa, and a bar manager from Boston, the mix of locals and recent transplants informs the taproom vibe. You can quickly feel at home in this cozy, wood and brick-filled space whether newcomer or regular.
The drink emphasis is, unsurprisingly, on fresh beer. The 18-tap list is diverse, including wheat beers, IPAs, sour beers, pale ales, porters, stouts and more. It's mostly in-house brews, but also guest taps.
Signature beers include West Coast Style IPA, a bold, bitter and hoppy brew with 6.7 percent ABV; Coffee Porter, a smooth, dark beer with coffee, chocolate and toffee notes; and Yoga Pants, a clean and simple American Blonde Ale.
Beers on draft can be ordered in 5-, 10- and 16-ounce pours, with prices ranging from $2.25 to $9. The friendly staff will make recommendations or allow you to sample before you make a choice. A $10 flight of four 5-ounce beers is a great way to try a variety of styles in one visit. Wine options are also available.
In addition to bar snacks like warm Bavarian pretzels or tacos, the menu includes a wide array of salads, flatbreads, and sandwiches like the yummy SharkBite, made with fresh mozzarella, chipotle aioli, tomato, artichoke hearts, and baby spinach in a garlic herb or whole wheat wrap, pulled chicken optional. Table service is available and food prices range from $5 to $16.
Seating options include the inviting L-shaped bar (with handy purse hooks underneath), high four-top tables, and long communal tables with benches. That makes the barroom work equally well for date night, a gathering of work colleagues or friends, or even a light family meal. It’s also the kind of place where a solo visitor won’t feel uncomfortable.
Patrons can watch televised sports, play Jenga, enjoy free self-serve peanuts, or buy an array of branded merchandise. When it’s not winter, there’s outdoor seating as well.
For anyone looking to explore local craft beer beyond the city of Buffalo, 12 Gates Brewing Company is well worth finding.
12 Gates Brewing Company
80 Earhart Drive, Williamsville (on Facebook)
Taproom hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Lot parking by taproom and in adjacent lots, just note the no parking areas
Why visit: A cozy taproom attached to a busy brew facility ensures a friendly time sampling fresh, local beers and a quality pub menu.
When to go: Thursdays are for Randalls, which are creative, small-batch flavor infusions; Fridays or Saturdays often feature live music. Follow 12 Gates on social media or sign up for email newsletter for details.
Take it home: Draft beers can be made to go in 32-ounce, canned-to-order crowlers or 32- or 64-ounce glass growlers. Canned varieties are sold by the six-pack or case, and some beers are available in kegs.
Take flight: When the temps warm, why not double-down on an airport theme and order a flight of four beers to drink outside under the landing airplanes?