The wait is over. The brewing industry has officially returned to the Tonawandas with the debut of nano-brewery Prosper Brewing, at 72A Webster St., North Tonawanda, across the street from the Riviera Theatre.
Owners Kevin Whipple and Tim Berg, natives of the Tonawandas who started home-brewing roughly six years ago, have brewed 11 beers for their taproom, the linchpin of the business. There's no intent to distribute for now, but growlers will be available soon, and canning for crowlers is likely.
"We want to be a local community brewpub," Berg said. "We thought the area needed something like this."
Whipple is pleased with Prosper's full palate of beers, ranging from an approachable pilsner – dubbed Not So Bohemian Pils – to darker brews suited for cold weather such as the Prosper Porter, a Nitro Milk Stout and the Munich Dunkel. Even with Prosper's small three-barrel system, the owners plan to brew a rye stout for St. Patrick's Day and a Belgian strong ale in the future.
Prosper's prices are lower than their local counterparts, with pints ranging from $5 to $6. A flight of four beers is $8. And unlike many of its peers, Prosper will remain open until 1 a.m. or later on Friday and Saturday nights, but closed on Sunday so the owners can brew.
The taproom's current capacity is 40, but that is expected to grow soon. Prosper plans to take over the space of the building's former co-tenant, Michele's Motif, knock down the wall between and open an expanded taproom within three to six months. That bigger area should accommodate roughly 100 patrons.
Prosper offers food, too, including Firehouse Chowder (beef and chicken chowder, made in-house, $3 cup, $4.50 a bowl), which Berg said is beloved by natives of the Tonawandas; a beer brat ($8) cooked in the brewery's pilsner; traditional pierogi (potato and farmer's cheese, potato and cheddar, and sauerkraut, $10 for six), and fresh-cut fries ($5).
There's complimentary popcorn in front of the bar, a common bar trick to make you thirsty.
Local brewing history is key to Prosper's identity. Whipple and Berg named their business after Prosper Peuquet, a devoted brewmaster/beer historian who appears in this 2005 article by John Eiss, now a writer for BuffaloBrewingHistory.com.
The persevering Peuquet worked at several different iterations of breweries at 533 Niagara St., including Niagara River Brewing, Busch Brewing and Tonawanda Brewing Co., before they were shuttered for good in 1948. His career as a brewmaster lasted more than 20 years around the turn of the 20th century, according to Eiss' website.
Historic photos of these Tonawanda breweries and their workers hang on the north wall of Prosper, with throwback maps of the Tonawandas gracing the southern wall. Given the changing boundaries of the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda in the past, Berg said it can be argued that Prosper is the first-ever brewery in North Tonawanda.
Patrons will be greeted by a massive image of Tonawanda Brewing Co., just to the right of the entrance.
INFO: Prosper Brewing, 72A Webster St., North Tonawanda. 525-1582. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday through Wednesday.
*Read more about local brewery openings:
- Froth Brewing opens on Military
- Belt Line serves just outside Hydraulics District
- Wurlitzer Building to house Woodcock Brothers
- Craft brewing movement shows no sign of slowing down