South Buffalo has a new craft spirit maker and a beautiful event space, tasting room, and store to boot. Lakeward Spirits is now open and offering their first spirit called Grain Canyon Vodka. This is an all grain vodka produced onsite in handcrafted, USA made copper stills, and the first in what promises to be a stellar line-up of spirits to include gin, rum, and whiskey.
Lakeward spirits are all made from scratch right at the Old First Ward Barrel Factory. Lakeward mills the local grain and malt themselves, and then mashes, ferments, distills, and bottles. “Lakeward spirits are built on a foundation of outstanding local grains” according to Adam Bystran, Chief of Distillery Operations. Until recently most North American malting operations were in the Mid-west or Canada. Luckily for Lakeward, and Buffalo spirit enthusiasts, there are now four maltsters in WNY (Pioneer Malting, NYCraftmalt, Queen City Malting, Niagara Malt) who work with local farmers. Lakeward’s process provides a true taste of WNY grain.
Just as exciting is the opening of the new Lakewood Spirits tasting room and store that overlooks the distillery, features a bar and lounge area offering craft cocktails, local craft beers, wine, and just the right Christmas gift for the Buffalover in your house. There is simply no better way to sample a spirit (beer, wine, etc) than at ground zero.
The Barrel Factory was built in 1903. A huge, multi-level brick structure, it was home to Quaker City Cooperage Co. for decades, thus the barrel factory to locals.
The restoration included the use of 200 + year old extinct American Chestnut barn timbers from Hamburg (full story here), reclaimed brick that was produced onsite for the original structure, and plenty of elbow grease. This is truly a stunning display of revitalization work, with constant concern for the environment and sustainability, that has brought the old brick building from despair to dream come true. The building is worth a trip just to see, but there is plenty to do once you get there, like take a tour, shop, sample product, and soak up the space. In addition to all that, the Barrel Factory has an tremendous event center on the second floor that will knock the socks off any restoration junkie. In this case pictures are worth a thousand words. You really have to see it to believe.
Joining Lakeward Spirits at the at The Barrel Factory is Elevator Alley Kayak and Snowy Owl Kombucha. Additional businesses to come soon. Located opposite the beloved Gene McCarthy’s Tavern and its Old First Ward Brewing Co., and just steps from Riverfront Park, this artisanal business incubator is another shining example of the organic rebirth of Buffalo.
A perfect opportunity to check it out would be the Snow Roll Distillery Series event Dec. 17.
Lakeward Tasting Room/Store
Hours: Thurs. – Sat. noon-10PM, Sun. noon – 5PM
Tours: Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 1, 3, & 5pm; Sun. at 1 & 3pm.
Lakeward Spirits at Barrel Factory
65 Vandalia St. corner of Republic St, South Buffalo / 716-541-1454