Chances are by now you’ve heard the news that Woodcock Brothers Brewing are expanding their talents to North Tonawanda, but if you’ve been living under a rock, the Wilson brewery is planning to open their second location in the historic Wurlitzer Building in about a months’ time. So, before you know it, there will be more fresh Woodcock beer to go around.
Brewing equipment and fermentation tanks have been installed, as have the wood-fire ovens (if you’ve had the pizza at their Wilson location, you know this is great news). Head Brewer Matt Gordon will begin brewing at the new facility this weekend (Saturday morning to be exact), with his first batch set to be Hoppycock IPA 2.1. At their Wilson location, Woodcock brews on a 10bbl system with 20bbl fermenters. They transported their 10bbl system to Wurlitzer and installed a new 20bbl system in Wilson. Plans call for Wurlitzer to brew on a 10bbl system with 10bbl fermenters, while Wilson will brew on a 20bbl system with 20 and 40bbl fermenters.
The new facility will allow for more experimental and one-off beers, as well as the chance to scale up some previous small batch beers, including the limited Imperial XPA, which was originally released last August.
“I’m pumped to get started,” Gordon says. “We will be carrying our main lineup from the Wilson brewery (Niagara Lager, Red Head Amber, Woodcock IPA, and Woodcock Porter) but I’ll also be experimenting with plenty of one-offs and seasonal beers. Let’s just say the more you consume, the more options I can give you and who wouldn’t be thrilled about that. One thing I can say specifically is that the new Imperial XPA should be a mainstay. I’m hoping to dish out more double IPA’s and maybe even a triple once I dial everything in.”
Woodcock will lease and renovate 5,500 square feet of the Wurlitzer Building (last year, Platters Chocolates became the primary tenant of the main building). There will be a restaurant with a kitchen, a bar, brew floor, outdoor patio, and seating for 120 patrons. The new facility will also create dozens of full-time jobs over the next two years.
“The space itself is going to be a lot of fun,” Gordon adds. “Plenty of seating in and outside along with a great bar area. There may even be a “splash zone” for those brave enough to grab a beer and watch my assistants or me brew. It is going to be a fun spot to hangout any day of the week. I already plan on it being the Bills viewing headquarters for my friends and I.”
Plans call for Woodcock’s Wilson home base to remain open after the Wurlitzer location is up and running. “Our Wilson location has a dedicated and diverse cross-section of patronage and we’ll continue to serve our local community exactly the same way we’ve done now for almost six years,” the brewery says.
While Woodcock says that they had a few ‘irons in the fire’ as far as other locations, the Wurlitzer building was a no-brainer once it became available. Plus, the fact that the new location will expose the brewery and their beer to thousands upon thousands of new people didn’t hurt.
“Woodcock Brothers is Niagara County through and through,” the brewery continues. “We all live and have families up here. So being able to keep our brand here in the Northtowns, Niagara County specifically, was a definite plus for us. We’re pretty rural out in Wilson, so coming to Niagara Falls Blvd. gives literally tens of thousands of more people access to our beer and restaurant. Every time we have an event, or a beer release at the brewery, we always get the same sentiment – ‘we love your brewery, but we wish you guys were closer!’ Now we will be!”
Woodcock adds that opening a second location was something they never really planned on, but it made far too much sense not to do once the opportunity arose. Not to mention the fact that they were essentially maxed out on space and capacity in their current location to sustain the growth they were interested in.
“We’ve been at the max in our brewhouse over the last couple years and have been constantly tossing around different ideas on how to expand, but we couldn’t ever seem to come up with the proper course of action that made sense from both a logistics and financial perspective. Opening an actual second location never was in the original plans, but once the idea and location of a possible second brewery at the Wurlitzer was brought to our attention, it made sense on so many levels. And as we delved deeper, we learned very quickly it was an opportunity to expand our production and reach more customers that we just couldn’t ignore.”
The opening of the Wurlitzer location will also further establish Woodcock’s foothold in the beer world at large, though increasing their presence in the market is not their first priority after the new space opens.
“We’ll have much needed dedicated space in our Wilson brewery to get more beer – both in cans and on draft – out in the market. But, initially our focus will be on consistently putting out the best beer we can for all our customers that visit us at both locations. Customers right off the bat will be able to purchase 16oz. 4-packs and fresh crowlers to go at our new location. Once we get our process down with supply and demand at both locations, we’ll be able to look at getting more beer out onto the market.”
The Wurlitzer Building located at 908 Niagara Falls Blvd. in North Tonawanda. You can stay abreast by following the brewery on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/woodcockbrothers.
“I am extremely excited to get the Wurlitzer project up and running,” Gordon says. “Every brewer at some point in their careers would like to run a brewery and here I am, about to oversee two. And, the newest location is basically in my backyard from where I’ve grown up since 1999. It’s crazy to think about. I’m still amazed at how far I’ve come along in the 2.5 years since getting started in this great industry and in no way would I be here without the amazing support from the Buffalo brewing community. I have to thank my old boss Matt Redpath (Jamestown Brewing) and co-worker Vandra Ruppel (Community Beer Works / Hydraulic Hearth) for helping me get this far.”
“To say our excitement level is its high would be an understatement,” Woodcock says. “We feel like it’s going to be amazing and we can’t wait.”
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.