By Don Cazentre
A new era in sour, wild and barrel-aged beers is coming to western New York state with the planned opening of a new stand-alone brewery dedicated just to those styles. Buffalo’s Resurgence Brewing Co. plans to open its second location in Batavia, between Buffalo and Rochester, in 2018. The new 15-bbl brewhouse will only brew sours, wild fermented beers and barrel-aged brews. “It's going to be a place where we can get weird," said Jeff Ware, who co-founded Resurgence on Buffalo’s west side in 2013, with his brother, Chris. That brewery, also 15 barrels, has won accolades for its beers, including its Sponge Candy Stout, based on a favorite western New York treat, plus IPAs, lagers and many sours and aged beers. Moving those last beers to the new brewhouse will free up space for more production in Buffalo, Ware said. The Batavia brewery will have a tasting room featuring its products and core Resurgence beers.
Labatt’s may not be the first brewery you think of when you think of craft beer, but drinkers in Buffalo will soon get a chance to help the big Canadian beer maker “craft” its new brews. Labatt’s USA, which imports its brands to the U.S., plans to open a "destination" pilot brewery and restaurant in Buffalo’s Cobblestone District. The John Labatt House will anchor the ground floor in a residential and commercial building. The pilot brewery will be a place "where beer drinkers can taste, experience and influence new beer development for Labatt," according to a news release from Labatt USA and Pegula Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres. Labatt USA will run the pilot brewery, while PSE will operate the restaurant and the rest of the project. The restaurant will highlight "authentic ethnic foods from Buffalo's storied past," the news release states. "The test brewery is really about looking to the future of Labatt's beers," said Mary Beth Popp, who handles media relations for Labatt USA’s owner, North American Breweries of Rochester. NAB also owns Genesee Brewery and other brands.
The big $49 million expansion project at Genesee Brewery in Rochester, meanwhile, was going to take shape this spring with a boost from the old Erie Canal, or, more accurately, the New York State Barge Canal. Three huge new fermentation tanks were scheduled to be shipped on barges from Albany to Rochester via the canal in mid-May. The tanks are considered too big to ship via trucks, a Genesee spokesman said. The new brewery is replacing its 1,000-bbl brewhouse with a 500-bbl system, said brewmaster Mike Mueller, but will have fermenters of 500, 1,000 and 2,000 barrels. The brewery is also replacing its lauter tun with a mash filter. “The brew size is smaller but we will be much more efficient,” Mueller said.
Two small Central New York breweries opened in early May in two equally small towns. Bullthistle Brewing Co. opened May 5 in Sherburne, Chenango County – south of Syracuse and Utica and northeast of Binghamton. Bullthistle is the first modern brewery in Chenango County and is operated by Brad Taft, Amelia Jeffrey and Charles Anderson. The hours will be 11 am to 10 pm Wednesday to Saturday. Its taproom features flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and appetizers. Beers at the launch included beer30 Ale, Imperfecly Perfect Porter, Tall Dark & Tasty Stout, Amber Ale, Thistles in May IPA and Scottish 80 Shilling Export Ale. Beer is for sale by the pint in the taproom and in growlers to go.
Humble Harvest Brewing opened May 6 in Nelson, east of Cazenovia in Madison County and about half an hour east of Syracuse. Owner Jim Corey's brewery will specialize in American- and English-style ales. He started with a Blonde Ale, several IPAs and a British Mild. Corey has been planning the brewery for a few years. He has a 3-bbl brewing system and a small tasting room down the corridor. You can try samples and buy beer by the pint. Growler sales will come later, Corey said. The brewery will be open 6 to 9 pm Fridays; 1 to 9 pm Saturdays, and 1 to 6 pm Sundays.
In the southern Adirondack town of Old Forge, the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery is ramping up production by adding several 7-bbl fermenters this spring to triple batch on its existing 2-bbl system. Later this summer, it will install a 7-bbl brewhouse and more fermenters, owner Justin Staskiewicz said. “We have plans for new beers but always run out of the regulars so quick we're always playing catch up,” he said. “Hopefully the new tanks will allow us to brew new styles.” Fulton Chain, named for a series of southern Adirondack Lakes, was founded in 2014 by Staskiewicz and Richard Mathy. It’s beers have run a wide range, from a cream ale to a Scottish Strong to a Black Lavender IPA. Staskiewicz hopes to expand distribution beyond Old Forge to the Utica and Syracuse areas.