This is the third straight year we’ve written a year-end review … but the first year we’ve written it as an open brewery.  Hooray!

Obviously, we got quite a bit done this year.  Yeah, things took a bit longer than we hoped.  But that’s all water under the (low) bridge, isn’t it?  A-hahahaha.  Ha.

To recap the year, we finished building out our brewery, installed all the equipment, brewed our first batch on August 12th, had our first public tasting on September 20th at the Ballpark Brew Bash, fully opened for distribution on October 16th, then opened for retail on November 19th in the middle of a full-on natural disaster.  We’ve done something like 40 events in the short time we’ve been open – which is great.  Much of the joy of craft beer is about education, and we love getting out there, educating on our beers, and getting feedback.

#Snowvember retail opening. 98% of this picture is real.

Speaking of the beers, we’ve already released 10 – which to us, seems like sort of a lot in just a few months of brewing.  You all know about Low Bridge Hoppy Golden Ale, Excavator Rye Brown Ale and Hayburner American IPA, which are our annual beers.  Hopefully you also got to try our Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale, which we released in the fall (and is still floating out there a bit), and our Vanilla Oatmeal Stout, which we released for the winter.

But we’ve also been busy with pilot and experimental batches as well.  We’ve called these small batch beers our “Innovation Series”; these are usually first batches of beers trying new and unusual combinations of flavors or ingredients.  For the most part, the results have been really, really good.  Our Imperial Smoked Porter was an example of this – it turned out fantastic, and will likely be on at our tap room when it opens (getting to that in a bit, promise).  Another really cool beer we got to make was “Excafetor”, a cask we put on at Mister Goodbar that we made with cold brewed coffee from Public Espresso.  We hope to make 2 to 4 beers a month to add to our “Innovation Series”.  The beer from these batches will mostly be available at the brewery, with the occasional keg going out to a few places here and there.



Excafetor

The actual point of the “Innovation Series” is to find out which beers we want to scale up and make big batches of to serve in our tap room… which brings us to what we have planned for next year.  
Things on the construction side of the tap room have taken a bit more time than we planned as they did with the brewery – again, all in the name of putting our best foot forward and getting all the details right the first time – except the work on the tap room has required even more time, being that we basically gutted more than half of the building to construct the space.  At the moment (don’t hold us to this – it is construction after all), we believe the tap room will be fully open in early spring.  

The tap room will feature two levels, with a total of 3 tap towers with 12 taps each, two towers downstairs and one tower upstairs.  Our annual beers and current seasonal beers will always be on, as well as some of the scaled down or scaled up “Innovation” batches. 

Wondering what it will look like inside?  You may have missed it – but we posted a single picture of the interior on our website:

Tap room rendition

And for those of you that are saying to yourselves “Well that’s just a rendition – it probably won’t actually be THAT awesome” – compare the exterior rendition to the current actual of the building:

Before

Rendition

Current

So, hold on tight for just a few more months kids.  It will be worth the wait.

Finally, as we always do on our year end reviews, we wanted to reflect on some great beers we’ve had this year.  Buffalo again saw some great breweries make their way into our market; my personal fave was the return of Allagash, with Midnight Brett leading the way.  Corey’s stint in Michigan allowed us to taste some great beers we normally would not get in this area; memorable were Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere and Kuhnhenn Brewing, which is where Corey interned for a couple of months in February.  Kuhnhenn’s Bourbon Barrel Fourth Dementia is an amazing and fantastic beer and would be chased around town with the likes of KBS and BCBS were it ever released here.  Some great New York State beers we tried this year were Three Heads Rye Dye Smoked IPA, Ithaca Cayuga Cruiser, and Galaxy Brewing Andromeda IPA.  And, this year, we were able to try some great beers made by new Buffalo breweries.  It’s amazing how far Buffalo’s beer culture has come in just the last few years, this last year especially.  We were very impressed with Not A Pale Ale from our friends at OFW/Gene McCarthy’s, and we had to mention the Vanilla Cappucino Pumpkin Ale from Resurgence Brewing, which kind of became one of our favorite fall ales.  And how could we not mention Community Beer Works, who is now one of the venerable veterans of Buffalo’s craft movement at the ripe old age of (almost) three.  I got to have some Heatrays Barleywine a few weeks ago which was fairly magical, and dare I say, umami-ful.

It has been a great year, and we’ve accomplished so much, and we thank all of you for supporting us.  But, believe us when we say this: the best is yet to come.  We will make many more great beers in 2015, and we’ll have a fantastic place to showcase them for you in just a few months.  Have a great year, Buffalo.  Cheers.

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