Located on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo in the old Nye Park Tavern, the new Pressure Drop taproom features both core beers the brewery is known for, and seasonal offerings like its Space Monkey IPA series. The taproom also features a small food menu of shareable plates and elevated bar snacks.
From featuring local artists on their cans to naming their beers after icons like Joe Strummer and Frank Sinatra – Pressure Drop Brewing is one of those businesses that just gets it. Celebrating a craft, supporting those around you and having fun is what life is all about. But trying to do things the “right way” isn’t always what’s best for business.
Brewery COO Lexi Craine says the original plan was to focus on doing a few beers, doing them well and distributing them. Unfortunately, that isn’t the expectation of the average craft beer stan. Drinkers that drive the market are now focused on drinking the newest beers, regardless of how they might stack up to more established beers.
“The craft beer industry as a whole has severely shifted, even since we opened the brewery in 2017,” Craine says. “Because at the time, core beers were the thing. People would drink the same core beers over and over again. But since then, the market has shifted. People want to try new stuff all of the time. Given the rotational nature of craft beer now, it’s more difficult to focus solely on distribution.”
The brewery first addressed the shift in expectations by developing a handful of seasonals, one-offs and collaboration beers – many of which proved to be popular. But addressing a changing market was nothing compared to dealing with COVID-19. During the pandemic, many breweries pivoted to a curbside pick-up model, and that necessary move actually went better than expected.
“It went really well,” Craine says. “We were pretty surprised, actually. After that experience, we really started getting serious about opening a retail location that is just our brand and our face.”
At the Barrel Factory, the brewery is wedded to the existing post-industrial look and feel. The bar serving Pressure Drop beers is operated by Lakeward Spirits. If you’ve been to that location, you know that it can be a great experience. But a post-industrial experience isn’t consistent with Pressure Drop’s own slightly-irreverent branding.
The new Elmwood location is designed to correct that. The old corner bar has been completely modernized. A massive Space Monkey overlooks the entire barroom. Compared to the bar-only service at the Barrel Factory, table servers at taproom were more friendly and attentive on our recent visit. With old school hip-hop on the soundsystem and sports on the TVs, the taproom is meant to be more of a hangout than the old factory space.
“The experience will be a little more modern and a little more focused on what we do,” says Craine. “We were never the bartenders at The Barrel Factory. We were never the servers, and space itself is definitely very different.”
While there is a restaurant at The Barrel Factory, a kitchen at the new taproom gives Pressure Drop more control over how customers pair food with their beers. The small menu includes tacos, sliders, loaded fries and dessert pastelitos. There’s also a kids’ menu with chicken nuggets, a mini burger and cheese quesadilla. The brewery just debuted a special brunch menu for Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The chicken, pork and shrimp tacos we tried (3 for $14) were the type of hearty, filling tacos that tend to get popular ‘round these here parts. We also found time to sample the Buck Bombs – a shot of One Foot Cock Bourbon and Bourbon Cream dropped into a glass of Pressure Drop’s Buckstar porter. Chugging these was pretty debaucherous.
Not many local breweries make it a point to offer something like Buck Bombs, and that’s what makes Pressure Drop stand out. It may not be the most popular brewery in Western New York, but when they’re focused on their craft and having fun – does it really matter?
“Every time we start thinking we’re really established and people know us, we meet five people who have never heard of us and think we’re brand new,” says Craine. “So we can always find a new customer, and we’re really prepared for that with the new location.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Wednesday and Thursday 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday 2 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
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