Step into the rehabbed factory where barrels were made a century ago and discover a new space where beer is made, and fun is had, at what may be the first local brewery to launch a public tour.
For a $20 ticket, which can be purchased at resurgencebrewing.com, visitors to Resurgence Brewing Co. at 55 Chicago St. get three samples to taste, a free beer at the end and a 45-minute look into the process and good cheer that is behind the company’s beer making philosophy.
“It’s part of our mantra to experience great beer,” said Drew Zach, director of brewery operations who has developed the tour. “Smell the hops. Smell the malt. Smell the things that are brewing … You can see how everything is made and be a part of that whole experience.”
Resurgence, one of about 50 local breweries, is among the first to arrange a public tour. Highlights include the building’s cooperage – or barrel-making – history and the process behind Resurgence’s production of 9,000 barrels a year.
With 248 pints of beer in each barrel that makes for 2.23 million pints a year of IPAs, sours, pilsners, lagers, porters and other new creations being made at the brewery. It’s housed inside a refurbished brick building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where, according to a Preservation Ready Sites web page, E & B Holmes Machinery Co. once made the machines that made wooden barrels used by distilleries.
In 2019, the place became the expansive new headquarters for Resurgence, which moved to these digs from its first Niagara Street location. Now the brewery has plans to extend its reach to nine more cities, including Fort Meyers, Fla.
The Buffalo flagship is about a block away from the waterfront and the source of one of beer’s four main ingredients – Lake Erie water is clean and does not need a lot of extra treatment. “Buffalo water is some of the best water,” said Dan Robinson, director of sales. “We think the less you have to add and subtract, the better.”
The tour covers the fundamentals of good beer and its ingredients – from water and yeast to malt and hops. Visitors can crank a hand grinder that cracks the malted barley that seeps in hot water letting out sugars to create the “wort” sugar water that the yeast eats to create alcohol. To give everyone a better understanding of the process, people also get to take a pinch of hop buds from a jar and smell the pungency they add to the wort so that beer has its distinctive flavor and bitterness.
At Resurgence, beer education is mixed with jokes, cheers and unique brew-related games. As visitors stop at the sampling tables set up with tasting cups, they are invited to choose a silly toast: “To the nights we will never remember and the friends we will never forget!” and “Cheers to bread because without bread we would not have toast. “
Tour goers also get to try games Zach created like the competition for two to see who is faster at assembling the gaskets and clamps that brewers use to connect the hoses that funnel beer from one vessel to another.
“It’s not your average brewery tour,” said Zach. “We really want to make this brewery tour one of the best tours in Buffalo.” His favorite part? Sharing the details of the process that is a labor of love. “For me, it’s really that understanding of the ingredients that are making the final product … Seeing, touching, feeling those ingredients is a fun thing for people to understand: all the different things that went into it.”