Last Friday, February the 13th, I attended the appropriately named “Snow Day” release party at Community Beer Works. Most of Western New York (the schools anyway) had the day off, the snow was falling, and the roads were horrible. Yet all of these factors did not stop beer-lovers from attending Snow Day at Community Beer Works.
Opened in April of 2012, Community Beer Works is unassumingly nestled in Buffalo’s upper west side on Lafayette Avenue just off Niagara Street. You might well miss the brewery if not for the cleverly-branded Community Beer Works recognizable green signs with a black landscape background. But let the arrows point you in the proper direction, don’t be afraid of the narrow path leading to the brewery door, and you shall be rewarded.
There is a strong sense of authenticity at Community Beer Works. When you enter the building, you are immediately greeted with the bready aroma of fresh fermenting yeast. The tasting room is nothing more than a few bar stools and a handful of places to perch your beer; Community Beer Works is all about the beer. And refreshingly so. Community Beer Works has proven that you can create great beers in a small space. You feel as if you are drinking in a neighbor’s garage – and this is not a bad thing. There is little separation between brewers, beer kettles, and patrons, making you feel a part of the beer creation that is happening around you.
Community Beer Works is what’s known as a “nanobrewery”, so named due to the amount of beer being produced. While there is no set rule as to what defines a nanobrewery, the U.D. Department of the Treasury defines nanobreweries as “very small brewery operations” that produce beer for sale. Having seen the operations at Community Beer Works first-hand, I can tell you that this description is accurate. The hard working folks at Community Beer Works produce beer in 45 gallon vessels. This affords Community Beer Works the ability to be nimble, innovative, and experimental. Due to limited production volume, demand can be very high for a beer that may never be available again (I’m still upset that one of my recent favorites, Singularity: Galaxy, is no longer available). One of the drawbacks of a nanobrewery is that just as much time can be spent cleaning equipment as brewing a new batch. Nanobrewery beer production can therefore be quite demanding and evolving. Community Beer Works does a fine job of straddling demand vs. production, and you can find their beer in many Buffalo restaurants and bars.
This particular event, Snow Day, was designed to coincide with the release of Snow Day 2015, a imperial stout that is designed to help drinkers persevere through the doldrums of Buffalo winter. I decided that my plan of action for this event would be to start with some lighter beers and work my way up to Snow Day. My first beer was “That’s The Way Love Gose”, a sour concoction formed from two different organisms, Lactobacillus and yeast. The “gose” style of beer, a German derived beer with a distinctive high concentration of salt. This beer is definitely not for the novice beer drinker, and undoubtedly this beer takes quite a high level of skill to craft. I enjoyed my pint of gose and moved on to some other beers.
Next, I tried the Saison #2, a delightful and spicy beer with strong spice tones but high drinkability.
I looked over the beer board and decided it was time to make the move for The Snow. Community Beer Works offered a sample of both this year and last year’s The Snow in half pours. Trying the two iterations side-by-side allowed a great comparison of now vs. then. After a brief poll of fellow beer drinkers, we all agreed that The Snow 2015 was smoother and easier to drink than The Snow 2014.
Everyone was having a great time, and I meandered around Community Beer Works to take a few pictures of patrons and staff.
I ended the night with a sample of Community Beer Works “That IPA”, am award winning 5% American IPA. This beer is one of my personal favorites, and I have never been disappointed with this beer.
Community Beer Works definitely make some damn good beers. The fact that Community Beer Works can produce enough product to meet the feverish Buffalo demand is both incomprehensible and amazing to me. But after visiting the brewery and seeing how diligent and hard-working the team is, it’s easy to see why Community Beer Works is gaining popularity and success in the Western New York craft beer scene. Community Beer Works is definitely a “must visit” for any beer drinker. When you get the chance, stop by and see Ethan and the guys for some great beer.
Community Beer Works
15 Lafayette Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14213