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Raise your glass: A focus on the Hamburg Brewing Company

A TOAST — The Hamburg Brewing Company has a variety of craft brews on tap at the local facility.
HAMBURG — The craft beer resurgence in Western New York is making its way to the Southtowns, and the Hamburg Brewing Company is among those leading the charge.

Located at 6553 Boston State Road, the Hamburg Brewing Company opened its doors to the public last month, and the owners said that the response thus far has been strong.

The business sits on more than 25 acres, featuring a hop yard and pond front patio seating. Inside the brewery, a giant floor to ceiling stone fireplace, 30-foot vaulted ceilings, many family heirlooms and knickknacks and a model train room welcome customers to put up their feet or browse around the business.

The owner said that there was a certain charm to opening Hamburg Brewing Company in the Southtowns, as opposed to elsewhere, like Buffalo or Amherst.

“We already own the facility,” said Hamburg Brewing Company owner John Russo. “It doesn’t get any simpler than that. It’s a big savings, because getting into this is a capital-extensive project. We already had a facility and it really doesn’t get any better than that.”

He said that he initially explored other options, “but this, hands down, is the best thing for us right now, with what we’re trying to accomplish, in terms of the farm aspect with the amount of space. It’s a great place for people to come hang out. As opposed to the city, we have more parking and we have everything you need.”

The HBC is currently growing a variety of hops on the property, including cascade, centennial and galena; Russo said that he is planning to grow additional on-site hop plants, in the future.

“We are absolutely planning on increasing our hop production,” Russo said. “Nothing short of doubling it in the spring. We want to try to grow as much as we can, without getting too carried away. At some point, we may hire someone to run that portion of the business but, for right now, it’s a team effort between us.”

The owner explained that he is interested in expanding for two reasons: “to use the hops in the brewhouse, and for our farm license. Also, our hop yard is a great thing to come look at; but to be able to say we are going to have a beer that’s 100 percent from this property is pretty unique, and something not too many places can do.”

The HBC currently brews 20 barrel batches, with an approximate annual capacity of 3,200-plus barrels. “It’s quite a bit, for a startup,” Russo said.

The business currently offers five beers on tap, including a white corner wheat, India pale ale, no lux black IPA, Oktoberfest and small town saison. The beers are currently available for consumption by the pint, in a flight of four small glasses, or by the growler.

The Hamburg business boasts an oatmeal stout, based on Russo’s own home brew recipe, coming for the winter season. As far as what he is planning to brew in the future, Russo said that a lot of factors go into that decision.

“When we started, we did a lot of sampling and looked at other beers that are around here,” he said. “We looked at what’s not here; we looked at things that are successful here and we also looked at what we thought could be next which, for me was the saison, a style I think that could definitely take off, around here.”

He explained that the black IPA is a relatively new style to the area, as well. It is a “more complex style, and people who love beer are really into this style.

“Our regular IPA is something you have to have, as well,” he added. “We’re looking at everything around us and we saw that guys are making IPAs with hops they can get, at this point, not the hops they want. We made an orange color to it with bonlander malt and came up with a hop blend that works really well and is sustainable, at the same time.”

He called the spring beer “definitely still up in the air,” but added that he has some good ideas already in the works for that offering.

Customers may also partake of a number of food items at the brewery, to go along with a cold pint, a list that Russo said could be expanding soon.

“We have some light food items right now; mostly appetizers,” he explained.

On the menu are baked pretzel sticks, tater tots with a Sriracha mayonnaise, stuffed peppadews with ricotta cheese and a sausage sandwich with pepper and onions; a few other things are still in the works.

“The whole idea here is light foods,” he said. “Nothing’s fried, and all items are fairly healthy. We’re also trying to purchase as many ingredients locally as we can, but we’re not a restaurant, and we don’t aim to be.”

Visitors will also have the chance to purchase a number of souvenir items including growlers, glasses, T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Tours of the facilities will be available soon.

The most current list of beers offered at the brewery, along with descriptions, can be found on www.hamburgbrewing.com; a full food menu will be posted soon.

The brewery is open from 4 – 10 p.m. Wednesday – Friday; noon – 10 p.m. Saturday and noon – 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 649-3249.

“This is a showcase for our product,” Russo said. “We want you to come here and enjoy yourself. Try out what we have to offer and simply enjoy the facility.”

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