Chances are, if you’ve attended a beer event in Western New York over the past few years, you’ve met Patrick and Sara Alexanderson, the mercurial couple behind One-Eyed Cat Brewing. Chances are you were met with a firm handshake from Patrick and a beaming smile from Sara, before they, more than likely, offered you some of their award-winning homebrew, which they always seem to have nearby. If you’ve yet to meet the Alexanderson’s, you will soon have your chance to do just that as One-Eyed Cat have announced plans to open in a renovated turn-of-the-century church at 10678 Main Street in Clarence Hollow. They are hoping to be open to the public the first half of next year.
Once open, One-Eyed Cat will become the only brewery/taproom to be located in a church in New York State and only the 14th across the nation (as of April), according to Patrick, who adds that the new space will feature metalwork from local artisans Buffalo Brew Fab, reclaimed wood, a mezzanine and more, including a brewery cat that will wander the premises. One-Eyed Cat isn’t just a cute brewery name, the Alexanderson’s are true cat people in case you didn’t know.
“It was built in 1856, and has a rich history in the Hollow,” Patrick says of the former church. “The taproom is roughly 2,000 square feet with an additional 1400 square foot brewing space. There is an additional 3,000 square foot grass area on the side of the building that is being converted to a beer garden, complete with landscaping, a gas fire pit and a 600 square foot patio space with outdoor seating.”
“Expect a warm, historic environment complete with exposed brick, warm hardwoods and lots of metalwork from our friends at Buffalo Brew Fab,” he continues. “There will be a bar, built from reclaimed wood from the renovation, on the dais where the altar is traditionally located. We will have a 10-12 tap capability, fed by our 7bbl system. The overall atmosphere and impact is comfort and community. We will have a mezzanine (the former choir loft) that will serve as a private party area when needed and will be open to the public when not used as such. We will have weekly entertainment in one form or another, and shuffleboard/games to promote a family environment. We will be serving small plates and seasonal food to that same end. The taproom will be decorated where possible by local art and crafts. And OF COURSE there will be a free-roaming brewery cat! (Unsure how many eyes they’ll have though….).”
Patrick says that they are looking to bring a craft beer experience fueled by great beer to the WNY scene, but more importantly are looking to make the Clarence area a true beer drinker’s destination. To save you some Google mapping, West Shore Brewing is just over half a mile up the road, and Murphy Brown’s Craft Beer Emporium and Thin Man Brewery’s new taproom inside Brennan’s Bowery Bar aren’t too far away either.
“We want to bring a phenomenal EXPERIENCE to the craft beer public, supported by great beer. We have always enjoyed breweries that provide a destination worth going to. Stone Brewing in CA, Southern Tier, et al. We love the fact that we have all of this space available to us to create a destination for not only the Clarence/Amherst/Williamsville community, but the WNY community as well. We are excited about adding another facility to the ever-expanding Northeast Buffalo Beer Trail. West Shore Brewing is 0.6 miles away, and with Murphy Brown’s, Thin Man’s taproom at Brennan’s, 12 Gates, Lily Belle and Eli Fish, there’s even more reason to come out of the city and head East!”
And, of course, there’s also the beer. Patrick and Sara have won numerous awards for their homebrewed beer, most notably their BIPA, a blueberry infused West Coast IPA, and Llama Leggings, a lemony gose. I’ve been lucky enough to have tried over a dozen of OEC’s beers to date, and have enjoyed most of what’s been in my glass, including Sourpuss, a kettle soured Imperial Stout (yes, you read that right) and Maenad’s Kiss English Barleywine. I’ve also quite enjoyed the New England IPA’s I’ve had.
A kettle soured Imperial Stout? A Mexican Hot Chocolate Porter named F@#$ the Wall? How about a 12.5% Russian Imperial Stout with Pureed Pumpkin or a Bourbon and Oak Infused English Barleywine that clocks in at 13%? These are just a few of the eccentric beer styles you can expect from One-Eyed Cat, but, as Patrick says, they will also have the staples on tap. The latter, Maenad’s Kiss, is one beer Patrick is specifically looking forward to brewing on a larger scale.
“Most of the public who knows us, knows that we like to delve into the esoteric and off-script. We want to continue that to a large degree. We are starting out with a barrel-aging program and look forward to mass-producing our seasonal barleywine, Maenad’s Kiss, as well as barrel-aged stouts, sours and whatever else we can come up with. We will have the standards; NEIPA’s, IPA’s, etc. but we will also do things that are determined (assumed?) to be not marketable such as The Queen’s Pajamas, our English Special Bitter, which was a huge hit at Bricks and Brews this year. We will not be doing full scale distro, so we will be able to serve unique beers through our taproom that we might not be able to get away with in the market.”
He adds that throughout this ‘tedious, but enjoyable process,’ the response from the brewing community at large in Buffalo and WNY has literally moved him to tears at points, from free advice and valuable feedback, to breweries literally opening up their brewhouses to them. Breweries like Resurgence and Community Beer Works have even let them hold pop-up beer tastings in their tasting rooms recently.
“We have been emotionally overwhelmed (seriously, there have been tears) by the way that the WNY beer scene has treated us. We think that the fact that most of the local industry starting out as home brewers has enabled them to take us seriously. From seemingly stupid questions that we asked about processes, to invitations to test brew on brew days to feedback on beer that we’ve brewed. And we can’t even speak about the facilitation of our pop-ups this year! The community has been great. We have had no qualms about throwing our beer out there for critique, and the feedback has been invaluable to our development as brewers and as professionals. We are just looking forward to being open. We love the reception and the following that we have garnered until now, and we look forward to rewarding all of you guys with a great experience.”
As for what One-Eyed Cat is looking forward to most, Patrick answers simply, “We throw this tagline on at the end of all of our social media posts about tastings, but it is always the truth, now more than ever: We look forward to serving you!”
For more information about One-Eyed Cat Brewing, please visit https://www.facebook.com/oneeyedcatbrewing.
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 email@example.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.