Resurgence Brewing are readying their massive new home in the Old First Ward, which they plan to open to the public early next month. Located at the historic Cooperage complex (55 Chicago Street), the space features a two-story taproom, kitchen, banquet spaces for parties of all sizes, open-air beer garden, rooftop patio and so much more. Central Rock Gym, a rock climbing and fitness facility, is currently open at the property and plans call for a distillery to open in the future.
There is a large vault and double-sided fireplace original to the Cooperage that sit near the entrance to the taproom, both of which the brewery decided to leave in. The entrance area will also house a lounge with a couch and seating, retail area with beer to-go and brewery merchandise, host stand, and waiting area.
From there, you can enter into the taproom, which can see out into the brewhouse on one side and the beer garden on the other. There will be high top tables down the middle of the room, low top tables off to the side and half tables coming off the wall, as well as a handful of televisions (there will also be a TV upstairs and one outside).
Resurgence Brewing Owner Jeff Ware says that he wanted the new taproom to have the feel of a major metropolitan city, just without any of the pretentiousness.
There are two bars, which will ‘function as one long bar’ according to Ware, with tap towers (12 taps on each, with 10 more taps upstairs) behind each and barstools lining the bar. The taproom will feature chandeliers and colorful furniture, a design element Ware calls ‘Buffalo chic.’ “We want you to feel like you’re walking into a swanky Los Angeles hotspot, but you can go in with cargo shorts and a t-shirt. So nice, but not fancy.”
“You’ll be sitting here at the bar and we can see out into the brewhouse through all of these windows,” Ware says. “All of the windows are functional, so we can open all of them up and you can effectively be in this space. For beer, we’re looking at about 14-16 beers on tap at any time. We don’t want to be a place with 50 beers on tap. If we have a gap in production, we’ll bring on a guest beer.”
There will be a kitchen nestled in the corner of the taproom. “We will be doing a full kitchen and a full bar with cocktails, wine and liquor. The kitchen will feature a limited menu with around 10-15 items. We’re thinking like gastropub style dishes, like a few styles of chicken wings for example. We won’t have a ton of items, but what we do we will do really, really well.” Resurgence is planning the ability to order food from your phone, and you will receive a text when your food is done and ready to be picked up.
The beer garden will sit in-between buildings, and will feature strung lights, tables, a trio of firepits (one seven foot and two three foot), as well as access to not only Resurgence’s taproom, but also the neighboring gym and distillery.
“My whole thing has always been, I want people to be in the brewery itself,” Ware says. “This building was vacant for 30 years before we moved in and I don’t think it would have lasted through another winter. It was in really rough shape and it cost a lot more than I thought to fix up, but that’s cool with me because this space has a story behind it. It was a Cooperage; they were the company that made materials for the companies that made barrels. It’s a really fun thing to be able to bring this building back to life.”
And, just as Ware wanted, you can literally sit in the brewery. Sitting off the taproom is another full service seating area inside the brewhouse with tables and a full-length drink rail separating the brewhouse from the dining area. Directly on the other side of the rail sits the dedicated in-house canning line.
Heading upstairs, you’ll walk past a massive elevator shaft original to the building, before entering the banquet space, complete with bathrooms, kitchen and a bar. There’s a conference room that will double as party space for smaller events as well as for the brewery’s sensory/tasting panels. The banquet area has room for about 300-400 in total, including the mezzanine section off the main banquet room that overlooks the brewery. The space will be open to the public if it is not booked by a private party, though some portion of the space should be open to the public at all times. There is also a rooftop patio off of banquet area that will make for some of the best brewery views in the entire city.
“This is my favorite part of the taproom,” Ware says of the mezzanine space. “This is really the perfect tie-in of both the old and the new. Standing up here with a pint overlooking the brewery, it makes you feel like you are actually standing in the brewery.”
As for the brewhouse, Resurgence’s new houses a number of oversized 60bbl fermenters, which makes for easier processing for dry-hopping. Their opening capacity will be about 15,000bbls, though Ware doesn’t believe they’ll hit that mark the first year. “We’re looking at probably around 10,000bbls in 2020. We can pretty much double what we are doing in Buffalo just by being able to have the beer itself available. We should probably get to about 5-6,000bbls just in Buffalo alone. We will have the ability to double a lot of our current batches.” Resurgence was operating at 3,000bbl at their Niagara Street home. “We’ve been hovering around that 3,000bbl mark since we opened over there. The first year we did around 1,500, and by year two, we added all of the tanks we could add. We were fluctuating around 2,700-2,800bbls.”
“We didn’t want to rush this process. We wanted to make sure that it was the right product and the right experience in the right area. And that’s what this space is for us. We first identified that Old First Ward was our market and where we knew we wanted to go. I have had my eye on this building for a long time. Putting everything together and making sure everything worked took a long time. This capacity is a little bit bigger than what we were working with so we can do everything more efficiently. So, for example, instead of brewing Resurgence IPA four times a week, we can now brew it once a week. And that’s what I’m really excited about, we’re just scaling appropriately.”
Ware says that they left themselves with the option to get bigger in their new space if they choose to, or possibly take on some contract brewing. “I think a lot of breweries are going to be in the situation we were in. We now have all of the tools to make clean, well-processed beer and make it affordably and really high quality.”
The increased capacity also allows Resurgence to up their footprint in additional markets. In addition to launching in Rochester, Ware says that their beer could enter Syracuse and Albany, and possibly New York City.
The plan is for Resurgence’s current Niagara Street home to remain open as well. Ware says that one tower at the taproom will feature all of their small-batch and experimental beers and the other tower will feature their favorite local beer from other breweries. Ware adds that if there were to be any major renovation/reconstruction projects at Niagara Street, the space could close for a time over the winter, but nothing is definite as of now.
“We’re trying to make this our forever home,” Ware says of 55 Chicago Street. “And if we somehow outgrow this, we’re going to have a pretty big party.”
For more information, please visit https://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.