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New: Sad Boys Brewing is Breaking the “Flannel-and-Beard” Beer Stereotype

Beer, Drink, Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on March 29, 2023
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing

Once upon a time, beer was all about getting together with friends and cracking open a few Cold Ones. You didn’t worry about getting to the latest IPA drop or posting soft-focus pics of barrel-aged stouts to Instagram. You just chugged a few fire-brewed Strohs between puffs on a lung dart.

In a way, the new Sad Boys Brewing in Larkinville is getting back to this basic premise: Beer is mostly about chillin’ with the homies.  Admittedly, the brewery’s motto of “Come be sad with us” is more than a bit emo than your average ‘80s Stroh’s TV ad.


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Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing

Hopefully, you take our point: Sad Boys is a throwback to the idea of beer being social and approachable, not exclusive. If you’re tired of the beards-and-flannel stereotype, of the conspicuous consumption Instagram posts, of the fawning over the latest beer trend that you don’t quite understand; then Sad Boys Brewing is for you.

“We all come from different backgrounds and our brewmaster is the only one who fits the flannel-and-beard stereotype,” says John O’Neill, the brewery’s chief marketing officer. “I think we’re hoping to cultivate that same variety of backgrounds in our following. We want customers to feel comfortable, whether they’re craft beer fans, trying something new, or just want to hang out.”

The childhood friends behind Sad Boys started to realize they were making approachable beer for everyone when they started offering homebrew samples before Bills games, on Abbott Road in Orchard Park.


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Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo courtesy of Sad Boys Brewing

“We were really just looking for feedback,” John says. “The one thing that surprise us the most was the people who seemed to like our beers the most. We thought our following would be like a boys’ club, but we started to get a big female following.”

The brewery’s opening beer menu is definitely influenced by that Bills pregame market testing. The brewery is mostly focused on beer styles with very broad appeal: Kolsch, pilsner, Irish red ale and pale ale. There’s also some more modern stuff: a kettle corn pilsner, loganberry IPA, and a hard seltzer. On a recent visit, the beers we tasted were very well-rounded. Even the Sad Boys beers you expect to be sweet, like the kettle korn pilsner, the sweetness was refreshingly restrained. And with draft pours ranging from $5 to $8, these are prices for the people.

Sad Boys Brewing / Photo x Brett Llenos Smith for Step Out Buffalo
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo x Brett Llenos Smith for Step Out Buffalo
Sad Boys Brewing / Photo x Brett Llenos Smith for Step Out Buffalo

Located in an industrial stretch of Exchange Street in lower Larkinville, the taproom is also a no-frills affair. Besides the bar, chairs and tables, there are a few TVs for watching sports and a dartboard at one end of the bar. If you long for the early days of the craft brewing revival, then you’ll love the Sad Boys’ post-industrial space. 

The new brewery wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people coming together to support it. The brewery was built thanks to Kickstarter and help from the local brewing community.

“Local breweries actually started reaching out to us, giving advice and looking for collaboration,” John says. “That energy is something we want to give back to the community. We want to be open to making friends and creating new partnerships.”

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change):  Wednesday to Friday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 11 p.m., Monday and Tuesday CLOSED

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Sad Boys Brewing

567 Exchange St. Buffalo, NY 14210 • $$$$$

Buffalo

Your family here at Sad Boys understands that drinking can get lonely. That is why we make it our personal mission to strengthen comeradery and brotherhood ...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.
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