Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Buffalo Church as a New Buffalo Brewery

In Buffalo NY it’s hard to not be drawn to a church for a brewery right away. It’s like a brewing palace. Beautiful surroundings, ceiling heights that are unmatched, since it was for people to gather the utilities are surprisingly low (several feet of brick and mortar are even better than 6 inch of fiberglass, the temp stability is amazing) and Buffalo has a bunch of extra churches right now that could use a, well use. 

So what’s the problem? They came in a couple of flavors (Sadly the flavors are like skunked Bud Light, and not a Buffalo micro-brew). 

1) If the church is owned by the Papacy it cannot be used for a brewery, period dot. That takes out many of the primary candidates 

2) Most of the churches need some repairs, the first church we looked at required over 500k in stabilization and another 400-500k in conversation costs. The second needs 300k, but the conversion costs were down to about 100k. That is almost the entire budget for New Buffalo. In this same category, if there’s not a door I can get the tank thought I don’t want to bust down walls to get them installed, that’s not hard and fast just a bit of the preservationist that lingers. 

3) A brewery falls under a M1 Zoning, churches are a C1, the first city councilmen I tried to work with refused to talk to me about it for several  weeks before giving me a “I won’t actively try to stop you, but I’m not going to help you in anyway” kind of answer.  The Councilmen Franczyk, who’s district I wasn’t working in was excited about the idea. In any case not being zoned correctly is another huge risk for use to undertake, a 6 month wait would bankrupt us in our first year   

 4) There is no equity in churches so the bank will not lend us money to fix a church for the most part.  On top off that even as we pay down the merger costs of the church we can’t barrow against it later own to expand like a normal building. 

5) Preservation, on one hand it has some money we can tap into in, almost 50% of the stabilization or big repair costs could be deferred by public funds,  however you have to keep the building the way the rules call for which in the case of the first building, we would have had the largest tasting room in the world (not proven but I don’t know of any breweries with 12,000sqft of tasting space, and two levels with a stage in the middle) 

6) Transportation, I need to be able to bring in semi’s, right now were planning on a grain bin for the pale malt, and I have to be able to get that into the building, also just in the first year we’ll be moving a couple truckloads of beer a week. I have to be in a place they can get too. 

To sum it up, were still looking for a church that could hold us but it’s not our focus anymore. Unless we received a grant for $1million it looks like it’s going to be a goal to expand too.  I know the city has money like that, and that $5million went to the Staler. The city isn’t going to trust a young guy like me, my background is Intelligence and factory work, not history building refurbishing. 

This was a very long post, but I wanted to hit on it since several people have asked me about it. Chris Fetter has been a tremendous help, sending us updates when a non-Catholic church comes on the market.  We hope this will work out, but we can’t wait forever. 

This post is in response an exchange with, on our facebook page

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Formal Offer

Our first formal lease offer on a building as come and gone without success. The problem we seem to be facing is that a brewery needs a rather strange space to fill. 18' clear ceilings, but only 10,000sqft of space. It’s almost a giant cube. Of all the issues I expected in setting up a brewery, finding space in Buffalo wasn't one of them.

The owners we have talked to have all been great guys, but the economics of everything makes it extremely hard to make a deal. No owner wants to take on the risk, or cost of divided up there building, and definitely not at the lease rate we can afford to offer. Seeing as it will be about 6-9 months after signing a lease we can start sell beer we just can't pay the big bucks people are looking for.

So at this point were back to looking at building something new. I really don't want to do that at all. It feels unreasonable to build a new building in a city full of old ones.  Next we’ll look into finding one the city has foreclosed on that isn't so broken I can't fix it for less.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet Cream Stout

A bit of home brewing this weekend is in order.

Tonight I moved our sweet stout from the primary into the secondary for some aging. I don't think this one its going to make it the full 14 days before I put it under pressure, and start tossing a few back. At just 15 days is already tasting great. I'm a bit keen on milk stouts, and I want to try adding lactose to our cream ale just to see how it works out. Possibly cut back the honey so its not too sweet.

I don't know how many beer drinkers are also lactose intoleranct. I'm sure there are some posting about it out there. With the weather finally cool off, its a great time to make beer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

English Mild

Last night our English Mild was slated to be done, so in preparation for watching Dr. Who we taped the keg to see how it turned out. The only way to describe this beer is, well, mild. Abel said it tasted kind of like tea, I'm inclined to agree with him.

It had low carbonation, so it was very easy to drink, its almost the color of a brown tea, but it just doesn't have much flavor. I know that the idea of the beer but I guess my memories form England might have been a bit skewed favorably by my enjoyable company of the English.

I might try experimenting with this some more, more malt, more hops to see if I can get a bit a flavor out of it, if not it will be a great burger and fries beer.

Friday, September 2, 2011

We now have the website up ( There is a good chance you already knew that if your hear. I want to use the blog as a place to post less-official New Buffalo topics. What is could that be? Home Brewing I'm doing, or things for the company that aren't really worthy of facebook. That's a terrible thought I know, not worthy of facebook!

I'll get a better post this weekend of some of my home brewing escapades for the last couple of weeks. Thanks for reading.