A brewing and distilling revolution is helping transform Buffalo, an emerging destination for what I have dubbed “Beer-Oriented Development,” or BOD for short. I have defined BOD as “the ability of local craft brewing and distilling to attract people, dollars, and development.”
To see BOD at work, look no further than “Upper Rock,” the name residents are giving the industrial corridor along Niagara Street between the Peace Bridge and Scajaquada Creek.
In 2012, Community Beer Works (CBW) opened at 15 Lafayette Ave., helping spark new interest in local craft beer and an emerging renaissance in the neighborhood. CBW’s success has helped draw in new businesses, including Resurgence Brewing Co., the Body of Trade & Commerce Gallery, Sugar City, and soon, a pizza parlor to be operated by a highly-regarded local chef.
Suddenly, Upper Rock has buzz. Why? The lure of locally crafted beer; the availability of cool, affordable industrial spaces; and a rising market demand for walkable neighborhoods.
“Beer-making is good for driving local development because people will gladly travel to and enjoy hanging out in brewery spaces,” says Ethan Cox, president and main instigator at Community Beer Works. “Brewers aren’t the only people who find stainless steel alluring!”
Downtown, the Hydraulics, and the Old First Ward are joining Upper Rock as BOD hotbeds. Big Ditch Brewing Co., 55 E. Huron St., is now filling growlers and will open a tap room by spring. CBW started brewing beer this week at its new satellite location at the Hydraulic Hearth, 716 Swan St. Gene McCarthy’s, 73 Hamburg St., is now making its own pilsner, dunkelweizen, and schwarzbier, among others.
Here in the Rust Belt, a history of manufacturing and blue-collar love for booze are working together to help revive neighborhoods and the local economy. Following urbanist Jane Jacobs’ notion that “new ideas need old buildings,” breweries and distilleries are populating Buffalo’s heritage industrial sites—many of which have sat empty for years.
Cox likens the development impacts of local breweries and distilleries to the impacts Great Lakes Brewing has had on Cleveland’s Ohio City, Brooklyn Brewery on Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, and Founders Brewing Co. on Grand Rapids’ Heartside District. And the impact is real. The Brewers Association determined the economic impact of craft breweries in New York State to have been about $2.2 billion in 2012.
By the end of the year, Buffalo should have nine breweries, seven distilleries, and a malthouse in operation. As local artisans churn out beer, vodka, and whiskey, Buffalo neighborhoods are certain to become even more hoppening.
Here’s a comprehensive list of Beer-Oriented Development (BOD) sites in the City of Buffalo. Drink responsibly!
Bison Distillery, 205 Lombard St.
Chateau Buffalo, 175 Niagara Frontier Food Terminal
Black Squirrel Distillery, 1597 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo Brewing Co., 314 Myrtle Ave. (Coming Soon)
Buffalo Distilling Co., 860 Seneca St. [Coming Soon]
Hydraulic Hearth, 716 Swan St.
Tommyrotter Distillery, 500 Seneca St. [Coming Soon]
Flying Bison Brewing Co., 840 Seneca St.
Old First Ward
Gene McCarthy’s/Old First Ward Brewing Co., 73 Hamburg St.
Photography by David Torke.