Belays & Brews: An Urban Adventure on Chicago Street

By Jay Josker

Published on | Last Updated

Throw a rock in Buffalo these days and you’re likely to hit a former warehouse or industrial building being redeveloped into something awesome. Climb a rock and you’re probably at Central Rock Gym – Buffalo’s premiere indoor climbing facility. It’s 24,000 square feet of repurposed industrial space in the Old First Ward and friends, I’m here to tell you it’s legit.

The space itself is huge. 22,000 square feet is dedicated to climbing and the walls stretch 45 feet to the top. Bouldering, top rope, and lead climbs are all available in the facility and routes are changed on a very regular basis. They’re set by a master routesetter and graded using the Yosemite Decimal System (climbing) and the V Scale (bouldering). Don’t let the technical talk scare you. The gym is super beginner friendly. You can rent all the gear you need right down to the climbing shoes, and once you’re properly kitted out the staff will teach you the knots and techniques to safely belay your partner. After that you’re free to climb to your heart’s content. There are so many routes and features you’ll never get bored.

Heights not your thing? Don’t worry, you’ve got 300 linear feet of bouldering space with problems for beginners and experts. Advanced climbers can test their skill on lead climbs or any of the multiple routes graded 5.11 and up. Have the kiddos with you? The designated kids’ section has you covered. There really is something for everyone. And as if that wasn’t enough the facility also has a fitness room and yoga studio.

My favorite part about this place is the welcoming sense of community built around it. Staffers always have a smile for you. If you don’t have a partner you can come in for weekly staff climbs to meet new climbers and form new “belaytionships.” You can drop in on yoga classes and climbing specific fitness classes. Climbing is naturally communal and the whole place is set up to foster that community. Memberships get you access to all the good stuff, but day passes and drop-ins will still make you feel right at home.

Now, if you thought this blog was over, it’s not. Because the only thing better than one re-developed building is TWO redeveloped buildings, and this adventure oasis happens to sit right next to Resurgence Brewing’s tap room. You can literally see the bar from CRG’s rock walls. So, once you’re done living out your wildest Free Solo dreams you can head across the shared open-air corridor to re-fuel with a bite and a brew. There’s a full menu of sandwiches, like Buffalo’s classic beef on weck, and shareables complete with a sponge candy stout beer float for dessert.  Chow down in the dining area or right out on the brewery floor next to a row of towering stainless-steel fermenting tanks.

This ginormous Chicago Street brewery cranks out their pillars, like the Resurgence IPA and blood orange saison, at full tilt as well as smaller batches of their more experimental brews.

And there’s a bonus for anyone who’s ever wanted to tie the knot with a pint in hand as the second floor of Resurgence is perfect for special events.

Bottom line: It doesn’t matter if it’s a date night, birthday, company party, team outing, or solo sweat sesh, Chicago street has you covered. And if you happen to need a climbing partner or drinking buddy just holler. I’m here to belay all day!

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Central Rock Gym
55 Chicago Street, Buffalo | Instagram | Facebook

Resurgence Brewing Co.
55 Chicago Street, Buffalo | Instagram | Facebook

Jay Josker headshot

Jay Josker

Jay is a lifelong Buffalo resident. He's a former bartender and currently the Director of Alumni Relations at Canisius High School. When he’s not on an outdoor adventure with his dog Bo, you can find him tailgating at Bills games or planning his next getaway.