New: Spotted Octopus Brewing Taps into the DIY Spirit of Experimental Brews in Allentown

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News


Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on April 27, 2022
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus

Sometimes whimsical, sometimes deadly serious — the artistic soul that haunts Allentown seems driven by the love of craft and a new neighborhood brewery on Edward Street fully embodies this creative spirit.

In a neighborhood that’s been home to everyone from Mark Twain to The Bubble Guy (RIP), Spotted Octopus Brewing is fully symbiotic with its surroundings, stretching experimental brews and esoteric tentacles into the surrounding ether. Co-owner Ken Shaw says Spotted Octopus is meant to celebrate the spirit of DIY homebrewing. While big local breweries might be able to put out great products, they’re just not able to take the creative risks that lured so many of us to love craft beer.

“When you get into a big commercial operation and distribution, you have to make a product consistently,” he says. “So, we’re in an interesting position. We have a one-barrel brewhouse, which means every time we make a batch, we’re making two kegs of beer. We feel that scale really frees us up to just try stuff. If something turns out to be a disaster, it’s only two kegs worth of disaster, not 50 or 100 kegs of beer disaster.”

“Our business is just different. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different,” he adds.


Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus

The brewery’s opening weekend featured eight different beers on tap, with some names inspired by the fantastical. Darkness Calls was a Black IPA that balanced hops and roasted notes. Ella was an easy-drinking Blonde Ale with melon and pineapple notes. Meditative Brew was a Scotch Ale with caramel and toffee notes. Julia’s Splendid Daydream was a juicy, fruit-forward Hazy IPA.

The new brewery sits in a quiet, unassuming pocket of Allentown that’s adjacent to the theater district. The building’s owner unsuccessfully tried to convert the brewery’s space into a wine bar around 10 years ago, and Shaw says SLA documents indicate the building is just past a 200-foot prohibition radius emanating from nearby St. Louis Roman Catholic Church — a fact celebrated by the brewery’s 202 Feet pilsner.


Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus
Spotted Octopus / Photo courtesy of Spotted Octopus

As a scenery and costume designer in local theater, Shaw used his creative background to give the modest taproom a whimsical, vintage look. He says the space wasn’t his partners’ first choice for the brewery, but he and co-owner/head brewer Domenic Nicotera eventually warmed up to it.

“I showed Dom our building, I don’t know how many times,” Shaw says. “He always thought it was too small and never going to work. I finally got him to go look inside the building and we fell in love with it the minute we walked in. We thought it was perfect.”

Shaw says the Spotted Octopus will be small and nimble, with a rotating roster of beers. There are also plans to bring in guest brewers, even those who don’t do it professionally. In addition, there are plans for a small food menu in the near future.

“I’ll admit, when I go to drink beer, I like to have a little nibble,” Shaw says. “So, that’s kind of what we’re doing: keeping it to nibbles.”

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Wednesday and Thursday 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Spotted Octopus Brewing

41 Edward Street Buffalo, NY 14202 • $




New Nano-brewery, Spotted Octopus focuses on experimental brews and constantly rotating flavors and styles. Read Our Article About Their Opening [sm_anypost ...


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Written by <a href="" 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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