Some people called him crazy. Back in 2011, people told Crabapples Brewmaster Peter Orfanos there is no way that a craft beer pub would survive in north Cheektowaga. There wasn’t enough money in the area. The demographics weren’t right. They were doomed from the start. But Peter was determined to make a name for himself and redefine affordable beer in the area. Now, Crabapples proudly carries the monker of “craft dive bar”, boasting over 50 taps and providing a top notch selection of craft beer from around the city, state, and world.
Once a bouncer that worked the door for many years at Crabapples, Peter Orfanos seized the opportunity and became a partner. To understand what Crabapples is all about, you need to understand what Peter Orfanos is all about. Peter is living the American dream. His mother and father, immigrants from Greece, raised Peter to be persistent and intelligent. Peter’s father, Adam, was a pediatric biochemist with many contributions to his field. In college, his parents insisted that Peter get “A”s in school. Peter remembers being forced to re-take a chemistry course that he had obtained a grade of “B” in. The rigorous demands placed on Peter by his father have undoubtedly guided Peter, and Crabapples, to their present day success.
Occasional trips to Greece and other parts of Europe opened Peter’s eyes, broadened his palate, and let him see the world of beer before Western New York ever noticed. So in 2011, when Peter made the aggressive decision to transform a dive bar into something new, he had the vision, knowledge, and determination to succeed. His trips to Europe also help explain why the first beer tower installed at Crabapples was Belgian. The first tower consisted of six rare and hard-to-get Belgian offerings, still considered industry gold standards to this day:
- Chimay Red
- Chimay Blue
- Delirium Tremens
- Delirium Nocturnum
Previous to the Belgian tower, the 21-25 year old demographic that frequented Crabapples survived on both kinds of beer: Labatts and Molson. And yeah, some of the clientele still do. Peter doesn’t have a problem with that. But what Peter wants his customers to do is just try a new beer. Instead of paying $2 a bottle, how about spending a dollar or two more to try out a world-class beer?
It’s all about the beer. Drop the pretension.
Peter cites that Duvel is often the gateway craft beer for many customers. And if you’ve ever had Duvel, you know this beer is made with fine craftsmanship. Peter cited that the conversation goes something like this:
I see you’re drinking a Bud, how about trying this beer?
(Customer tries craft beer #1) No, I don’t like that beer.
Ok, how about this beer?
(Customer tries craft beer #2) No, I don’t like that beer either.
Ok, try this one.
(Customer tries craft beer #3) Hmm, I kinda like this beer. What’s the name of it?
One tower at a time, Crabapples now offers 50 different local and worldwide selections, including a Belgian tower, Southern Tier tower, and the famous “golden apple” tap that contains a rare allocation. But Peter also knows that in order to have Crabapples succeed, he needs the beer to be affordable. The mantra that great beer should be affordable is top priority for Crabapples; Peter never wants you to feel as if you can’t afford a high-quality beer.
Come join our family where the brews are affordable and rare and impeccable virtue lies in every corner of the tavern.
And with an impressive yet difficult to maintain 50 taps, Peter knew he could kill two birds with one stone. Rather than dump a beer that isn’t selling well, Peter moves that beer to his “$3 tower”. Problem solved. Peter recoups some money on the back end while customers get to sample a fine ale at an inexpensive price. And that’s how it starts. One customer at a time, Crabapples is changing the mindset of the youthful drinker.
During a recent trip to Crabapples, here are some of the beers I enjoyed. Notice the variety and beer style diversity at Crabapples.
However, the road has been a difficult one for Crabapples at times. Many people have bashed Peter for his brazen posts on Facebook, boisterous graffiti on the wall, and lack of a proper food menu. Crabapples is, and always will be, about the beer. There are now 384 members in the mug club. These are engraved mugs, not numbered with a temporary marker. Once you are a member of the Crabapples Micro Brew Club, you are a member for life.
There are no vain peacocks amongst the institution of Crabapples Micro Brew Pub.
So what’s next for Crabapples? How about a “New York only” tap tower? How about upwards of 18 taps of local and regional fresh beer? Previously impossible, but with the recent addition of so many new breweries, a tower of all local and fresh New York beer will soon be a reality. And once again Crabapples is on the forefront of this movement. Peter would love nothing more than to support local breweries and continuing to supply his customers with the freshest beer available.
Peter demands recognition for his efforts in changing the culture of affordable beer in north Cheektowaga. Crabapples features the highest quality beers in an unpretentious setting. A plethora of affordable beer is indoctrinating a new generation of craft beer drinkers.
Don’t let the opportunity for palate stimulation pass you by. Burn the vain and cute boat shoes and join our family of empathic beer connoisseurs, we are waiting for you.
Crabapples Micro Brew Pub
3298 Genesee Street
Cheektowaga, NY 14225