Construction work is in full swing at Resurgence Brewing’s future location (the former Cooperage Building at 55 Chicago Street) as the initial site work and necessary demotion has been completed. Resurgence President Jeff Ware says that tangible building at the site should be noticeable in ‘about 5-6 weeks.’ They are shooting for a late summer/early fall opening date.
Resurgence produces around roughly 3,000 barrels annually at their current Niagara Street location and are forecasting a jump up to approximately 10-12,000 barrels in their first production year at the Cooperage site. The brewery has hired a Director of Brewing Operations to help handle the increase in production.
The 25,000 square foot facility will allow Resurgence to not only increase production but also expand distribution throughout the state. Tentative plans call for a 2-story taproom with food service in the existing Pattern Building, banquet space and open air beer gardens. Project developers are also planning additional retail spaces, six apartments with a mix of one, two and three bedrooms, and a large enclosed open space with a multi-use gymnasium.
Ware says that they explored the option of expanding at Niagara Street, but found that was more of a band-aid option than anything else, because the bottom line for them was that they just flat out needed more space that what was possible at their current location.
“When we first opened we thought we could take more space, but there are other things going on in our building,” he says. “It would really have amounted to putting smaller additions in and it would have only helped us for a few months or maybe a few years, but long term we needed more space for canning and other things as well.”
As far as new locations go, Ware said that Resurgence was willing to look at anything, including in the Old First Ward/Lackawanna area further down Route 5 as well as some spaces on the East Side, but the Cooperage building was the obvious choice in the end.
“We were looking around for a while, but we wanted to make sure we found the right building and the right place,” Ware says. “We also really wanted to stay in the city. We were looking at what was going on in the city and looking around for an opportunity to build what we wanted to build; a neighborhood that has the right feel for what we want to be and what we are, and the Old First Ward area was the perfect fit for us. I’ve had my eye on the Cooperage building for a couple of years as we’ve been working on this deal for over two years, and it was just a matter of putting it all together and getting the right players in place.”
The former E&B Holmes Machinery factory, which occupied the building until 2001, is comprised of three sections, which were built at different times around an enclosed central courtyard. The original four-story Mill Building was constructed in 1870, while the three-story Forge Building was added on one side between 1910 and 1912 and the Pattern Building a year later in 1913, with two stories on the other side of Mill. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
“We’re a Buffalo brewery,” Ware adds. “We’ve seen a lot of good things happen over on the West Side and I think the same thing is going to happen in the Old First Ward area because it already is happening down there thanks to Gene McCarthy’s, Pressure Drop Brewing, the Barrel Factory and Riverworks, and we’ll just be another addition to that. It just makes the whole area that much more viable every time someone else moves in.”
As for Niagara, Ware reiterates that the location will look the same, just with smaller tanks as they plan to take some of their 30 barrel tanks over to the Cooperage location. He says they plan to install some 5-7 barrel tanks so that they can cut down on R&D time. The Niagara Street location will remain open to the public as is, save for a few possible minor tweaks in the future. Ware says that it might become something of a ‘communal Niagara Street beer garden’ with tap lines from other local breweries sometime down the road.
“Say we want to test out a new fermentation process or try out some different yeasts, we just don’t have the tank space to do it,” he says, “so if we have a lot smaller tanks we can turn things over a lot quicker and make new beers a lot faster.”
For more information, visit http://www.resurgencebrewing.com/.
Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.