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Lock IPA Series: An Introduction

In the last several years since our brewery opened, we’ve found that not every style matches our brewer’s interests with that of our customers.  We enjoy beer from a variety of styles, but modern day beer drinkers seem to really want beers that are bold in flavor yet remain very approachable.  This is a national trend for sure, but seems particularly true in Western New York.

Which is probably why our IPAs are so popular.

From the beginning, we vowed to make IPAs that defied the traditional incarnations of them; we shied away from making bitter, malty, and thick IPAs.  Our first (and flagship) IPA was Hayburner, which is strong in flavor yet light bodied, and held a firm bitterness that was overshadowed by orange, grapefruit, and melon flavor.  We like to say this beer is deceptively drinkable.  And many others that have had the beer agreed.  Following that beer was Deep Cut, our double IPA, which despite being stronger than Hayburner displays many of the same qualities, except the citrus hop flavor was now joined by notes of tropical fruit and wild berry flavor.  

But, these aren’t the only IPAs we’ve made.   Over the last several months we’ve made a few pilot batches of some new ones that were equally good, only on a smaller scale.  

Well, it’s time more of you tried some of these.  Introducing our Lock IPA series.

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Our Lock IPA series will be limited amounts of canned IPAs that explore the range of fantastic flavors found in hoppy beer.  We expect to add a new addition to our Lock IPA series every few months.  Usually, we’ll only make a batch or two of each of these beers a year.  Expect the cans to sell mostly out of the brewery for a price of $14.99 per four pack of 16 oz cans with a one case limit.  Some of these beers will also be on draft at our tap room, but in a much more limited amount than say Hayburner or Deep Cut.

The first beer in this series is called Packet.  Packet is named after the boats that transported early passengers on the Erie Canal.  The beer is made with Galaxy, Mosaic, and Pacific Jade hops, resulting in a juicy, sticky hop bomb with tempered bitterness and tropical and lightly floral hop flavors abound.  We are also getting a lot of fruit punch and pineapple out of this first batch.  Not sure how much we’ll yield yet, but we’re hoping/expecting to get about 150 cases for the first run.  

Packet will go on sale on Saturday 4/22 at 11am.  Similar to previous releases of Deep Cut, we’ll have free coffee for anyone who gets there early and decides to wait for some.  
We think you’re really going to dig this beer, Buffalo.  Thanks in advance, and always, for the support.  Cheers!

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Our new pilsner, and the thing about craft lagers

We love pilsners.  Not the American adjunct lagers you grew up on.  Real pilsners.  Czech, Bohemian, German, what ever you call them - we love them all.  A well done pilsner is everything we like about beer: clean, drinkable, refreshing, yet featuring a nice, crisp hop and flavor with underlying malt complexity.  

The truth is, many years ago, Low Bridge was intended to be a pilsner the first time we brewed it in the winter of 2011.  We (Corey and Matt) brewed the beer in my kitchen, split a 12 pack of Sam Seasonal, realized we didn’t have a wort chiller, set the kettle in the snow for two hours to chill, and went out for more beer.  And also, tacos.  The brew day took something like 12 hours.

The beer wasn’t that bad – once the fermentation started.  We pitched one pack of Danish lager yeast and started our fermentation at 45 degrees F.  Nothing happened for the first 72 hours or so.  We warmed it up to get it started then chilled it back down.  It lagered for 6 weeks.  It was pretty good actually, for the first try.

Lagers are different than ales: they require more yeast, and more aging time (lagers are actually named from the German word "lagern", which means "to store"), and tend to be a little less forgiving than ales – that is, they need to have a very clean fermentation profile.  For these reasons, the lager we brewed on that day became an ale by about version 5, a few years later.  We thought we could still make a very clean and refreshing Golden Ale by controlling fermentation temperature and pitching a little more yeast.  And we did, and it worked well.  Low Bridge is quite lager like and has a lot of the nice qualities we like about pilsners – clean, refreshing, and flavorful.

But, it isn’t a pilsner.  And, so, we finally brewed one.

The thing about brewing a lager is that to brew one means you need to have the capacity in your brewery to store one for a while.  We couldn’t possibly make one for the first 2.5 years of operating our brewery because we were always behind in keeping up with the ales we make.  So, we consider making this pilsner to be a big step in our brewery’s evolution - almost like we've finally grown up, so to speak.

The other thing about brewing this lager, our pilsner, is that we think it’s pretty good.

We originally brewed a pilot batch of the beer for our tap room first anniversary party.  We celebrated our anniversary alongside Toutant and called the beer Toutant Pils.  We liked it then.  But temperature control is more difficult at small scale, and we thought it would be even better when we scaled it up.  Just like you should have with a pilsner – the ingredients aren’t very complex.  Simple malt bill, noble hops.  Making this beer good is a lot more about the process.  And the beer is good; having now brewed it at large scale, we can say that it’s very tasty.  

We’re calling the production batch - which we actually brewed as our 500th batch brewed since opening - Electric District Pils, which is a nod to our neighborhood, where the Electric Tower serves as a beacon for locating our brewery as well as several other new and wonderful restaurants.  It’s 5.1% ABV, a German-style pilsner, with significant floral and spicy hop aroma and flavor, very mild bitterness, and nice, light, bready malt undertones.  Come try some soon and celebrate our first lager with us.  Cheers!

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Ten reasons to head to Big Ditch during your NCAA tournament visit

So – your team made the Big Dance.  Your headed into downtown Buffalo to watch your team play at the Key Center – sometime on Thursday, and then, with a little bit of luck, on Saturday too.  Maybe this is the first time you’ve been to Buffalo, or maybe it’s been a long time since you were last here.  Besides basketball, your other love is craft beer.  What are you going to do with yourself over these next few days?

Well, chances are, you’ve never been to our brewery and tap room/restaurant before.  Here are 10 reasons you need to come hang with us over the next few days.

1)  Craft beer made in Buffalo.  If you like visiting breweries and tasting beers, you need to come see us.  We currently have 13 beers on tap, all made right here in downtown Buffalo.  We have a wide variety of beers to choose from, from golden ales, IPAs, spiced dark ales, German-style beers, and English-style beers.  We even have a pale ale made from all New York State ingredients.  When else will you get to try a beer like that?

 

2)  Getting here from the arena is easy.  No driving or parking required.  Walk out of Key Center, and right in front of you is a train.  This is the Metro Rail.  Get on.  6-7 minutes later, you’re at Main Street and Huron Street, at the Fountain Plaza stop.  Walk two blocks over to see us at Ellicott Street and Huron Street.  Drink, eat, smile.  Reverse to head back.  Could not be easier.  

3) Breubens.  Yes, our brewery serves food.  And our Breuben, which is our take on a reuben, is our most popular sandwich.  The corned beef is brined in Excavator, our rye brown ale, for 24 hours, then slow cooked and piled high.  You won't leave hungry if you've ordered this.

 

4) Killer IPAs.  Everyone knows that the IPA is the most popular craft beer style in the country, and we make some pretty good ones.  Our Hayburner American IPA is one of the best selling craft beers in the entire area.  It’s got a lot of citrusy hop flavor without being too bitter or filling, and at 7.2% ABV, is deceptively drinkable.  Our 8.2% ABV Deep Cut Double IPA, which is well regarded as one of the best beers brewed locally, is Hayburner’s big brother, with some tropical and wild berry hop flavor to make things even more interesting.  If you like IPAs, you need to try these two beers while you’re in town.

 

5) Plenty of TVs.  If your team makes it through on Thursday, and you're itching to keep up on the action, we have six large screen TVs between our main tap room, our Brewer's Lounge, and our Beer Hall, to keep you up to date on your brackets.  Watch your 12 – 5 upset prediction come true with a good beer in hand!

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6) Hand cut fries.  Nuff said.

 

7) Cans!  Take some beer back with you.  We always have our signature beers Hayburner American IPA, Low Bridge Golden Ale and Excavator Rye Brown Ale in cans.  And, you’re in luck, as we currently have Deep Cut Double IPA in cans as well for a limited time.  Get some while you can!

 

8) Friendly, quick service.  We’ll get you seated quickly, explain the beers to you clearly, and we’ll get your order in and out promptly.  All with a smile.  We’ll make you feel the Buffalove.

 

9) Yes – we have chicken wings.  And they’re really good.  For best results – try pairing the Garlic Parmesan wings with a Low Bridge – you’ll be surprised how well the lemony characteristics of the beer play off of the garlic in the wings.

 

10) We were voted the best craft brewery in New York State at the 2016 TAP NY festival.  If you like trying locally produced craft beer, you won’t leave disappointed.

 

Good luck, and enjoy your stay in Buffalo!  Cheers!

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Deep Cut Double IPA Can Release: The Details

Back in September, right before we announced that we were canning our signature beers Low Bridge, Excavator, and Hayburner, the joke around the brewery was that we knew what the first question would be once we made the announcement: what about Deep Cut?

This sentiment was realized of course, and we knew then that we had to can Deep Cut, our Double IPA, as soon as possible.  Which is why we considered Hayburner in cans to be priority 1a, with Deep Cut as priority 1b.

And so, four months later, here we are!  Here is what the cans look like:

Deep Cut Cans Double IPA Buffalo Craft Beer

And, without further ado, the details about the cans and the can release:

Deep Cut will be sold in 4-packs of 16 oz cans for $14.99.  Unfortunately, Deep Cut will continue to be limited, due to the difficulty in procuring all the hops we need to make the beer.  Therefore, the very first batch we’ll can will only be available at our brewery / tap room.  It will go on sale at the tap room beginning at 10 AM on Saturday, February 4th.  The tap room will also open for draught sales at that time (with our kitchen opening for food sales at 11AM).

We are planning on canning 200 cases.  There will be a one case per person maximum.  Please note however, that these numbers are subject to change depending upon final yield (the beer has not been canned yet) and how the demand trends over the next week or so.  We suspect this beer will sell very quickly and we may shorten the limits if we think we won’t be able to serve everyone.  

Fear not if we happen to run out!  The beer will be on draught and available for growler sales this day, and beyond.  Also, this won’t be the last day we can Deep Cut!  We plan to can it about once per month, at least for the remainder of this year.

To be honest, we’re not completely sure how this will all go – but we do know the beer will be good.  Come join us and Celebrate, Buffalo!  Thanks for your support.

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Year in review: 2016

A lot of folks are down on 2016 (for a few reasons, perhaps rightfully so, perhaps not?), but for us, we had a blast.

Let’s recap, shall we?

First – be aware that 2016 was the third year in a row where we undertook a massive construction project.  In 2014 we built our brewery and sold beer in draught via Try-It Distributing; in 2015 we built our tap room and began serving our beer in draught alongside delicious food at our brewery on Ellicott and Huron streets.

This year was all about expanding what we had already began the previous two years.  We tripled our brewing capacity, added on a grain silo, expanded our beer hall and added on a new bar, then expanded our warehouse, kitchen and tap room storage space.  We ran 360 private events this year, which is amazing!  We opened for lunch and added on a lot of new staff to support it.  Speaking of staff, our staff continued to be our most valuable asset in 2016.   They are both our greatest cheerleaders as well as our supreme ambassadors.  We are so proud of them and grateful to have them working for us.  

 

 

                                           Photo courtesy of The Beer Photo Project

                                           Photo courtesy of The Beer Photo Project

For the finale of our expansion, we added on a canning line.  It turns out that Hayburner in a can is a good idea!  We’re also excited to see how much Low Bridge people drink from the can this summer – Low Bridge is nearly our biggest seller in the tap room, and we find this beer super tasty and refreshing.  It’s a brewer’s beer – when the brewers are done with their shift, they’ll often turn to a Low Bridge for refreshment.  

We released some nice new beers this year.  Just a few of the more popular beers we released: Squeezer, our hoppy kettle sour; Orangeade, a pale ale with orange zest; and we also brewed a few pilot batches of Make Me Wanna Stout, a drinkable coffee stout with Revolution beans from Public Espresso – expect much more of this beer next year.  We also released a small batch of a pilsner we brewed for our shared anniversary with Toutant which we called Toutant Pils - expect more of that beer this year as well.  Remember Bidwell Wild, the beer we made in collaboration with the Elmwood Village Farmers Market? Well, there wasn’t much of it to go around last year, so maybe you missed it.   You’re in luck next time around though – we’ve got about 10x as much brewed this year, and from the taste of it, it may be ready sooner than you’d think.  It’s currently aging in wine barrels from Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.  Speaking of barrels, we released our first barrel aged beer this year in the form of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Towpath, our imperial stout.  We released the beer on an event we called Stoutsgiving, the day before Thanksgiving – I suspect we’ll do this event again next year.

 

The best new beers we brewed this year were, in fact, collaborations with other breweries.  Great Big Steve was a doppelbock-style beer we brewed with Great Lakes Brewing Company, which was quite the honor, as we consider their beer to be world class and extremely influential on us as we were starting up the brewery.  Expect us to collaborate with another big brewery in 2017.  

 

 

The collaboration with Resurgence Brewing Company, Community Beer Works, the Buffalo Bisons, and Consumers Beverages yielded another mixpack of cans, and this year’s collaboration yielded a collaboration beer: Short Stop Saison (name smartly chosen by Ethan Cox of CBW, truth be told) – which was a well-hopped saison, and super tasty at that.  

 

 

 

Still, all of these beers and projects paled in comparison to the most important beer we made this year, which came about due to incredibly sad consequences.  When we lost local beer writer and friend of the beer community Kevin Wise in July, we gathered just about every local brewery in the area in what was almost definitely the single biggest collaboration of Buffalo breweries in the area’s history, and perhaps one of the biggest collaborations of breweries anywhere in the US (?)  Wise PA was a really nice IPA, but the best part of this story is that all proceeds from the sales of this beer, which was sold at all of the collaborating local breweries, will be donated to a college fund for Kevin and his wife Celeste’s children.  

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The best moment of this year was easy – winning the best craft brewery in New York State award at TAP NY.  You can see how surprised and happy we are in this picture.  It’s hard to imagine having another moment as great as this for a while.  That’s not to say we won’t try though!

 

That leads us into a preview of 2017.  First of all – no more construction.  This year we’ll be focused on doing what we do – making great beer and food – and doing it even better.  Expect more beer in cans this year.  Deep Cut, our double IPA, is just a few months away from being canned.  We’re planning on canning a few of our seasonals this year, beginning with our session wheat IPA, FC (Fantastically Crushable), the beer that we began with FC Buffalo, this summer.  Sorry, no Galaxy Red in cans this year!  But, in even better news, we're excited to announce that we are planning on canning several limited IPAs this year!  We should be releasing four to six new IPAs throughout the year, featuring lots of fun hops we’ve contracted for the year.  These batches will be one offs – that is, when they’re gone, they’re gone… although the very popular beers may return for an encore in 2018.  We’ll keep you posted!

We’ll be sure to continue and grow our barrel series in 2017 as well.  In addition to the Bidwell Wild project, we now have 8 x Woodford Reserve barrels we’ll be filling with Towpath sometime in January.  We just filled some gin barrels from Tommyrotter Distillery with Beautiful River, our saison.  We added two kinds of brettanomyces to the beer after racking to the barrels, which should take 3-6 months to age; after which time we’ll dry hop the beer with something nice and bottle it up.  Stay tuned…

 

We’re also planning on expanding our reach a bit more in 2017 – we’ve had some good feedback from Rochester and would like to be there sometime during the year.  And after that – who knows?

Finally, a rundown of great beers we’ve had this year.  What’s pretty cool is that this year we can focus just on NY State beers alone – because NYS is truly making some great beers.  Here’s a short list – pretty much anything from Grimm Artisanal Ales, Hand & Seal from Brooklyn, Squeaker from Suarez, Sunday from The North, Double from Upstate (these guys have come a long way – congrats!), Hard Core Leaf Peeping from Common Roots, Solera and Without Regarde from Good Nature, who are one of our favorite breweries in NYS right now, Run Like an Apricot from Prison City (our other favorite), Toasted Coconut Kareem from Stoneyard (‘sup Jason!).  And, let’s not forget how much great beer is being made locally these days!  Sky High Rye from EBC (who won F2P this year in my opinion), Spot Coffee Stout from Flying Bison, Cosmic Truth and Irish Breakfast from Resurgence, Dreizehn from CBW (one of my favorite pilsners ever, and I love pilsners), and Bliss from (sort of?) newcomers Thin Man, who blew us away with that beer.

Here’s hoping we make someone’s list next year!

As always, thanks so much for your support – we appreciate our customers and guests more than you know – the smiles on your faces are the reasons we come to work every day.  Have a happy 2017, Buffalo!

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