After meticulous planning, millions of dollars ($2.2M to be exact), months of anticipations (15 of them) and a massive buildout that included converting former grain silos into a fully functioning brewery, the time has finally come – Riverworks Brewing Company at Buffalo Riverworks is open for business.
And it’s certainly a destination brewery.
Nestled inside the former GLF grain silos, you know, the ones with the Labatt Blue logo painted on them, Riverworks Brewing Company is the world’s only operational brewery housed inside a grain silo. Helmed by head brewer Chris Herr, who also keeps all of the beer flowing at Pan-American Brewery and Pearl Street Brewery, the brew house at RBC is really a spectacle to behold.
Featuring approximately three miles of beer lines throughout the entire Buffalo Riverworks complex (meaning plenty of opportunities and locations to get a fresh pint), 4 30 bbl. fermenters, 4 15 bbl. fermenters, 4 30 bbl. bright tanks and 8 15 bbl. bright tanks, the RBC brew house is truly unique.
While walking through the silos you can see the saw marks on the walls from where the construction team was forced to cut through rebar-re-enforced concrete. On the lower levels, 14 stainless steel serving tanks flow directly to the taps at the Silo Bar and four indoor stations, using a one-of-a-kind distribution system created by Herr.
“We’re very excited to open the only brewery built in to a grain silo in the world,” Herr says. “It’s fun to think about how these silos used to house grain that we’re now using for brewing. We’re excited to offer totally unique beers at Riverworks, and we’re happy that we were able to get them flowing just as the summer starts.”
Speaking of beer, 8 beers are on tap at Riverworks, one of which is Pearl Street flagship Trainwreck Amber Ale. Amongst Riverworks’ year-round offers are:
Conveyor Cream Ale (4%): Light and crisp, Conveyor Cream Ale gets back to Riverworks’ roots of being a grain elevator by adding corn in addition to the barley in the grain bill. Imported German hops keep the flavor balanced and smooth.
Rejuvenator IPA: Called such because of RBC’s project of rejuvenating a part of Buffalo’s history. The grain elevator was invented in Buffalo, and they are the only brewery built in to a grain silo in the world. The Rejuvenator is a New England-style IPA, meaning it’s very aromatic and juicy without being too bitter.
Wheeler Wheat (4.7%): A traditional German hefeweizen, which literally translates to “wheat beer with yeast.” The yeast adds banana and clove spice flavors, which is left unfiltered to accentuate this character. The Wheeler silo is the silo with the rock climbing walls, which is where the name comes from.
Bin House Brown Ale: A bin house is the small building on the top of a grain elevator. Riverworks’ brown ale is a traditional English pub ale, brewed with imported malts and hops for a true taste from across the pond. Medium bodied and full of rich toast flavors, Bin House goes perfect with their modern pub fare.
“The Conveyor Cream Ale is a very light colored, balanced beer that uses corn in addition to the barley in the grain bill to keep the flavor light and let the imported Czech hops shine through,” Herr says. “The Rejuvenator IPA is an unfiltered IPA that utilizes a blend of some of the best hops to come from the Pacific Northwest – Nugget, Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, and Mosaic. It’s heavily hopped late in the kettle and in the fermenter to add loads of flavor and aroma without becoming overly bitter.”
They also currently have two seasonal offerings:
New York State Rye Pale Ale (5.6%): A rye pale ale made with NYS grain and hops from local growers. It’s spicy and balanced. The rye came from NY Craft Malt in Batavia, the barley from Niagara Craft Malt out of Cambria, and chinook Hops from right here in Western New York.
Double Decker XPA (7%): A seasonal brewed with experimental hops, Idaho 7 and El Dorado, which lend flavors of pungent hops, white grape, and watermelon.
“Our new seasonal coming out in about 2-3 weeks will be a Gin Spiced Saison,” Herr adds, “a French farmhouse ale brewed with the same spices they make gin with juniper, lemon, coriander, and cardamom. It’s my take on a gin and tonic beer, complete by being served with a lime wedge.”
While you can get fresh pours of any of these beers throughout Riverworks, perhaps the most ideal locale to imbibe a pint is at the outdoor Silo Bar – yes, it is exactly as it sounds – a bar built into a silo. Adirondack chairs line the waterfront, offering ample bucolic spots to enjoy a beer. There’s plenty of other seating as well located outside the Silo Bar.
Additionally, there are three rock climbing walls located inside the neighboring Wheeler silo, with three degrees of difficulty – easy, medium and hard. Rock climbing not your thing? Then hit the water, as you can rent hydrobikes and kayaks (you can also launch your own) right on the patio at Riverworks.
To make a long story short, Riverworks Brewing is Buffalo’s newest destination.
For more information, visit www.buffaloriverworks.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 at @buffbeerleague, on Instagram at @buffalobeerleague and on Facebook at @thebuffalobeerleague.