Updated on April 7, 2023
Have you heard? The beer scene in Buffalo, New York, has boomed in recent years, a suds stampede led by an interesting and diverse crop of young breweries producing supremely delicious IPAs, imperial stouts, barrel-aged sours, and more, with something for every drinker, traditionalists and adventure-seekers alike. Many of these beer makers are housed in former warehouses and factories across the city, which is experiencing a bona fide renaissance after decades of decline, like other once-thriving industrial centers.
Brewing is helping revitalize and reshape today’s Buffalo, but the industry has a rich history locally; before Prohibition, the city boasted as many as forty-one breweries. Most of the dozen or so current producers have opened in just the last half decade, and several went on to complete large expansion projects.
Still, many don’t distribute outside Western New York, so your best chance to taste the sauce—and what place knows more about the sauce than Buffalo?—is at the source.
If you’re an out-of-towner, you might not recognize some of the brewers leading the charge. We recommend you plan a visit to where the Buffalo breweries roam for a taste.
Hop Culture’s 7 Best Breweries in Buffalo, NY
Big Ditch Brewing Company
55 E Huron St, Buffalo, NY 14203 | (716) 854-5050
A past winner of the best craft brewery award at TAP New York, the state’s largest and longest-running beer festival, Big Ditch pays homage to the Erie Canal. The brewery, which opened downtown in 2014, has built its foundation on well-executed beers referencing the historic commercial waterway that forever altered the trajectory of Buffalo and offered the first direct connection between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes, thus opening up America to westward expansion.
This includes the Low Bridge golden ale; Excavator, a brown ale with rye; and Hayburner, an award-winning IPA that accounts for seventy percent of total production from the 20bbl operation (its success has spawned several variants, including one with an obscene amount of Citra hops).
A high-ceilinged, two-level taproom and restaurant serves these year-round offerings alongside seasonal brews (for winter, Fresh Baked) and limited-edition liquids like the Detour and Lock series of barrel-aged imperial stouts and IPAs, respectively, in a casual atmosphere. When the weather’s fine, the glass garage doors open onto Ellicott Street.
Community Beer Works
520 Seventh St, Buffalo, NY 14201 | (716) 388-2664
An early player in Buffalo’s brewing renaissance, Community Beer Works opened in 2012, the first producer to do so since Flying Bison in 2000. It started humbly, in a small industrial space with a 1.5bbl brewhouse, but has since grown to include a second, larger location, added last fall, in the rapidly developing West Side neighborhood, adjacent to a building once owned by the Schaeffer Malting Co. (The original Lafayette Avenue facility remains in operation but is closed to the public.)
On the production side, a 20bbl system increased the total volume a couple of years ago to 5,000 barrels, and there’s enough space to expand to 20,000 barrels.
This means more core beers like the citrusy Frank pale ale and award-winning The Whale brown ale—it took the Governor’s Cup for the best beer in the state at 2017’s Tap New York—and limited releases such as Baseball Can Go On Forever, a hazy session IPA with Citra, El Dorado, and Amarillo brewed to celebrate the MLB season opener.
Since day one, the company’s mission has been twofold: Create well-executed beers for Buffalo’s drinkers and provide a community space to enjoy them in. The sleek 7,000-sq-ft brewery, with a taproom offering “The Dopest Pizza Bagels,” “Money Bags Dumplings,” and “Not Your Average Nachos,” succeeds in both.
Our advice: Fill a glass with the latest session IPA and sip it in the open-air courtyard. After, hit the game room for some pinball. But don’t forget to leave with some fresh cans.
Thin Man Brewery
492 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222 | (716) 923-4100
166 Chandler St, Buffalo, NY 14207 | (716) 393-4353
Thin Man may be the brewery in Buffalo’s bunch that most fills the Instagram feeds of beer fans, and for good reason. Since opening in the Elmwood Village neighborhood in the fall of 2016—one of the four partners is Mike Shatzel, who owned the beloved Blue Monk bar—it has collaborated on standout beers with several brewers in the industry’s vanguard, including Pure Project, Aslin, 3 Sons, and Collective Arts.
Solo-produced brews such as Trial By Wombat, a hazy IPA hopped solely with the Galaxy variety, and the Pills Mafia German pilsner are equally excellent. Cans for cultish releases like these are snapped up by diehards quickly.
In April 2019, Thin Man opened a second brewery and taproom on Chandler Street. The facility houses a 30bbl brewhouse and a canning line, with a portion of the 35,000-sq-ft space dedicated to barrel aging. Oh, and you can also get wood-fired pizza.
But you can always visit the original location, which has a 240-seat restaurant and two bars offering twenty-four perpetually rotating taps, some occupied by outside brewers.
Resurgence Brewing Company
55 Chicago St, Buffalo, NY 14204 | (716) 768-6018
After working in sales for Boston Beer Company in New York City, Jeff Ware left his Queens apartment and returned home to the Queen City to open Resurgence in 2014 in an old warehouse in the West Side.
Garage doors and skylights invite lots of natural light into the sprawling taproom with communal tables (though the outdoor patio is the place to tip back on a pleasant day), better for when a giant Jenga tower is in the balance, and a chalkboard above the long birchwood bar lists what’s on tap.
Look for an Italian pilsner with bread from the local DiCamillos Bakery; the Sponge Candy Stout, starring the adored local confection (the several special-edition variants are worth soaking up, too); and the hazy double IPA, Double Heart.
There is also the Ice Boom Bock (which you can currently find blended with blueberries and maple for Blueberry Flapjack) and the Cucumber Saison, both of which bagged bronze medals at 2017’s Best of Craft Beer Awards.
Operating at a production threshold of 3,000 barrels, the company also opened a pop-up beer garden in Delaware Park with Resurgence beers, sandwiches, bites, and more.
Pressure Drop Brewing
1672 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14207 | (716) 551-0019
Karl Kolbe, a Buffalo native, spent almost a decade living and brewing in California, first snagging a few medals in amateur competitions before turning pro with Knee Deep. In late 2017, Kolbe returned home to open Pressure Drop inside The Barrel Factory, a lovingly restored 115-year-old historic factory in the Old First Ward. (The building sits across the street from the longstanding Gene McCarthy’s pub, which houses Old First Ward Brewing. Pro tip: Try the on-point hefeweizen.) While Pressure Drop still brews in the Old First Ward, their beers can be found on tap at the Elmwood Ave. pub in the Black Rock neighborhood.
Unsurprisingly, Kolbe’s focuses lean left of the map, on well-bittered West Coast-style IPAs and double IPAs you can see through like Sticky Trees and Space Monkey Solo. But fret not, fans of the New England sub-genre: Sticky Icky, a hazy iteration of Sticky Trees, is soft as a fresh snowfall, foggier than a Phish concert. Whatever your taste for hops, get your fix from Pressure Drop’s offerings.
Other Half Brewing – Buffalo Taproom
1 Seneca St, Buffalo, NY 14210 | (716) 409-4379
Part taproom, beer garden, and game hall, Other Half’s Buffalo taproom at One Seneca Tower opened two years ago. Now the iconic brewery that brought line culture to craft beer plans to expand its Downtown Buffalo location. Nearly tripling the current space, Other Half in Buffalo will include a full restaurant, cafe, private event space, taproom, and beer garden in 8,000sqft. While this expansion will take anywhere from six-to-twelve months, you can still get your favorite Other Half quaffs in—including Green City American IPA, Broccoli DIPA, and Poetry Snaps Japanese rice lager. And did we mention there’s a suite of pinball machines, skee ball, and old-school electronic basketball?
Flying Bison Brewing
840 Seneca St, Buffalo, NY 14210 | (716) 873-1557
The granddad of Buffalo’s craft breweries, Flying Bison opened in 2000 and was the first to do so in the city since Iroquois Brewing Company closed in 1972. It’s helmed by Tim Herzog, who has over thirty years of brewing experience and covers many of the basics. You’ll find brews like the toffee-tinged Rusty Chain, an amber lager-ale hybrid; the smooth Blackbird Oatmeal Stout, made with oats; and the cloudy and citrusy Juice Caboose, a New England-style IPA. The taproom is open for drinking Wednesday through Saturday, and tours and tastings are offered.
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