Five years may not seem like a long time, but in the wildly-careening craft beer industry, it’s an eternity.
Five years ago, beer had to taste like beer. Now, you’re hard-pressed to find something that doesn’t taste like juice, candy or Lucky Charms; that may or may not have glitter in it.
Five years ago, a tap room was supposed to feel like it was bolted on to an industrial brewing operation. Now, Yelpers howl in anguish if a tap room has dust from actual brewing, or doesn’t have a full menu.
Given that sea change, the new tap room opened by Resurgence Brewing Company makes a lot of sense. There’s a full menu, table service, proper dining areas and a look that wouldn’t feel out of place at the Walden Galleria.
Jeff Ware, president of Resurgence, said his company has always focused on the customer experience, and the new tap room is a natural extension of that focus.
“When we opened up there was Pearl Street and (Community Beer Works) had just opened up maybe a year ahead of time,” Ware recently reminded us in a phone interview. “Then there was you know, whispers of Hamburg and Big Ditch opening up. Back then, we had to really embrace that on-premise, ‘come and hang out at the brewery and drink beer amongst the tanks with us’ kind of mentality. It was just so different than what everyone had seen before, and then offering a very different, unique kind of beer.”
Ware told us that the biggest complaint he’s gotten over the past five years is not having a full menu to go with his signature beers.
“It is weird,” Ware said, “when we first started everybody was happy with us just saying, ‘Oh wow, you have hot pretzels, that’s awesome!’ And we said, ‘Yeah sure, bring your own pizza or whatever you want to do.’
“But, now that narrative has really changed to ‘I can’t believe you don’t have a full menu.’ It is really gone 180 degrees, to the point that, it is our biggest complaint. People go, ‘the beers are great, experience is great but, I just wish you had more food.’”
To address that issue, the menu at the new taproom features classic Buffalo pub grub: wings, beef on weck, burgers, pulled pork and poutine. Salads and a kids’ section round out the menu: There’s basically something for everyone.
While there is an area for sit-down dining, food service in the tap room at the new Resurgence is the ‘half-service’ model we’re starting to see everywhere. When you order food from the bar, you give your phone number to the bartender to receive a text when your order comes up. Food runners do run orders, but you can also pick up your food from the open kitchen if you’re feeling impatient.
The new Resurgence location also has a large event space on the second floor. While the original location did host a few weddings and large events, the new bigger space is much more accommodating.
On opening weekend, the beer menu featured the core Resurgence beers you know and love. There were classics like Loganberry Wit and Sponge Candy Stout. There were also new favs like The Surge, a hazy af citrus bomb.
Ware said that as the new locations gets settled in, guests can expect a bigger beer menu that includes some more experimental styles. Incidentally, the original location will remain open and be the focus of Resurgence’s R&D efforts.
He added that the expanding constellation of Western New York breweries has forced his company to become a bit more specialized in its brewhouse.
“It is impossible to make every beer style really, really well,” Ware said.”Because there are so many breweries that are just focusing on one style. You have got to kind of choose the styles you are going to go after, like maybe pick three or four different styles that people really like, while still being inventive and experimental.
“You probably aren’t going to see us do a lot with Belgian beers because it’s just not a focus of ours,” he explained.
Located on Chicago Street near the Buffalo River, the new Resurgence location may seem out of the way at first blush, but with two massive luxury condo buildings across the street and regular events at nearby River Fest Park, the new taproom is set in a popular residential and destination area. Call it the New First Ward.
Resurgence Brewing Company – Chicago Street
55 Chicago Street, Buffalo NY 14204
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., Monday CLOSED