Some of the biggest bands started in a garage, woodshedding song ideas and perfecting their sound. Eventually, they got too big for the garage.
For the past six years, Community Beer Works has been a garage brewery, building a local cult following in its tiny Lafayette Avenue space. That humble space couldn’t contain such a massive local success for long and the beer company recently debuted its bigger, sleeker brewery and tap room: CBW has traded its crappy Peavey practice amp for a goddamn Marshall stack.
Wild-eyed, tattooed and prone to exclamations, CBW president Ethan Cox looks like a local indie rock star, but more importantly, he’s a beer geek at heart. He recently told us the new facility is “where we would have loved to start originally, but it costs a lot of money and it took us a while to figure out the best way to get that money. I’m sort of glad we didn’t start out at that size, knowing now what I didn’t know then.”
“Being a good homebrewer does not necessarily translate super well or super quickly to brewing on an industrial scale,” he added. While the process is the same, “homebrewers do not have equipment that can kill you!”
When CBW first started putting out beers in 2012, with a stated goal of wanting to “embeer” Buffalo, it was the first brewery to open up shop since Flying Bison opened in 2000.
“For the 12 years between Flying Bison opening and us,” Cox said, “nobody else opened a brewery and I think largely because, you know, the word on the street was it was haaard!”
“Since we’ve opened, we’ve seen another 20 breweries open and there’s another four or five on deck that I’m aware of. I would say it’s been a good thing because we wanted there to be a brewing scene and we wanted there to be a lot of different breweries for people to go to.”
The new CBW brewery is one you need to go to. It’s the kind of brewery you might see on the Travel Channel: a hip spot in a cool city. If the original location felt like a well-kept secret, the new brewery feels more like a ready-for-primetime coming out party.
It’s a proper brewhouse, complete with a food menu and table service. There are so many spaces, it’s hard to know where you should hang out. Chug beers at the bar? Elevated seating for dining? Chit-chat in the open-air beer garden? Nerd out in the game room? Head to the front patio for a game of Corn Hole? You could literally spend a whole day here. And leave wanting to come back again the next day.
Service at the new CBW is just as cunning as the design. When you open a tab, it goes into the system: Roaming servers with tablets can take your next order no matter where you are. You could order That IPA in the game room, order soft-baked pretzels 20 minutes later in the beer garden and order a Frank 15 minutes later at the bar — all on the same tab, all from different staff members. You are not going thirsty or hungry here.
Food is counter service; you give the staff member your phone number and get a text when it’s ready to be picked up. While there is a full kitchen, the new CBW location will only be offering a small menu food meant to pair well with beer. We were told there will be vegetarian options, burgers, chicken-and-waffles and rice bowls.
The one thing you won’t find at the new CBW brewery is parking. It’s located in a West Side neighborhood; so ride your bike, take an Uber, take the bus or walk over. You know, like a real urbanite.
Oh yeah, there’s also beer! Good beer. With 20 tap lines to fill, beer geeks can expect to see both classic CBW hits and the kind of batshit crazy one-off beers they’ve gotten known for. Whether you’re a hop head, a sour snob or raised-on-Blue-Light purist, you’ll find something you like. We promise.
It’s been a while in the making, but clearly you just have been embeered Buffalo. Once again.
They aren’t officially open yet with regular hours, but they are posting to their social media accounts letting you know when they will be open here and there, so keep an eye out if you want to go check it out asap.
Community Beer Works – 7th Street
520 7th Street, Buffalo, NY 14201
Opening: August 2018