Head to the west

Rural counties offer up more sipping options than you might expect



Michael Hanlon

It’s no secret that most areas are experiencing a beer renaissance—or “beernaissance,” if you will. There are breweries all over the Rochester area, and it seems like each town and village in the county has its own flagship craft beer stop. Similarly, in Buffalo, there are well-known breweries cranking out craft beers that people love. 

But what is a bit of a secret are the craft beverage makers surrounding Monroe County between here and Buffalo. 

I’m here to let you in on that. 

Here is a county-by-county roundup of the different craft breweries, cideries, and even a meadery between the Flour City and the Queen City—and what’s coming in the near future. 

Genesee County

Rogers Brewing (9 Main St., Le Roy): OK, so this isn’t exactly a brewery, at least not yet. 

Al Rogers first started making beer out of his home in Le Roy and received rave reviews.  With the help of a contract brewery, he scaled up and began distributing his stuff all around the area. 

The beer, which comes in twenty-two-ounce bottles but soon should be available in a twelve-ounce option, comes in a wide variety: IPAs, porters, pale ales, a blueberry ale, and a scotch ale—which Rogers is most known for—among others. 

What’s most fun about the beer, though, is its dog theme. For instance, the scotch ale is called the Hound Dog, and the blueberry ale is the Pug. They’re all based on real dogs, too, either his own or a friend’s. 

The beer is on tap in a few spots, but the Smokin’ Eagle in Le Roy is the flagship location for Rogers. He partnered with the owners of the barbecue joint, who loved the beer so much that they struck a deal to keep it available when Rogers was mulling the idea of shutting it all down. There are plans to open a brewery down the line, but for now, they’re letting sleeping dogs lie.

As someone who loves hoppy beer, I recommend the Boxer—a ruby red grapefruit IPA. 

 

Resurgence Brewing’s sour-only brewery: Resurgence Brewing is a well-known brewery in Buffalo, and it’s bringing its efforts to Batavia. 

A few months ago, the owners of Resurgence announced a plan to bring a fifteen-barrel, sour-only brewery to Batavia’s Ellicott Station. As the brewery grows, the owners want more space to create their craft beers, but the specific reason for a sour-only brewery involves the yeast used to make the tart beer.

Sours are fermented with wild strains of yeast—originally a mistake in the brewing process that brewers honed into a product—that can contaminate equipment. So, in many cases, brewers will make sours off-site, which is exactly what Resurgence is planning here. Of course, their regular beers will be on tap, too. 

The project is slated for a 2018 opening, so stay tuned. 

 

Black Creek Cidery (6885 Warboys Rd., Byron): Ciders aren’t as prominent as beer within the craft beverage world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as good. And just past the Monroe County line, these guys are offering a “tree-to-glass” experience. 

Black Creek Cidery puts out a product generations in the making. Owners Steve and Mike Starowitz have called on their grandfather’s recipe to make their cider that once was just a hobby. 

“Our grandfather’s recipe, along with being crafted in a time-honored, slow, cold-aged, wood-barrel process, has created a classic hard cider with a smooth finish,” to quote the website. 

What’s more, they’re making their cider with their farm’s own apples. The brothers Starowitz have a small orchard on their farm, where they also grow a host of other crops. Both the Orchard Tea, a decades-old recipe that, unlike beer, has naturally occurring yeast that allows the product to ferment, and the raspberry hard cider are fermented in whiskey barrels to provide a balance of flavor. 

 

Orleans County

810 Meadworks (13 W. Center St., Medina): This one might be new to most people, but it’s certainly worth seeking out. 

Over in Medina, at 810 Meadworks, they’re making mead—a fermented drink made from honey—that touts itself as more versatile than beer and wine. Looking at the menu, it certainly appears that way. There are cocktails made with mead, meads that liken to wine, and others that are similar to beer. Some are carbonated, meant to be consumed by the glass, while others are good to sip or even pour over ice cream. 

Bryan and Larissa DeGraw moved to Medina from New Jersey to be closer to family—and to make mead. But, it’s not just mead that they’re putting together there; the tasting room is a whole experience. Not only can you try the mead, you can enjoy live music and local food in the, ahem, “beegarten.”

Make the trip to downtown Medina, to try some. You won’t “bee” disappointed. 

 

Wyoming County

Silver Lake Brewing Project (14 Borden Ave., Perry): In the southwestern-most part of the (585) area code, there are enough breweries now to form a legit beer trail. Let’s start in the east. 

As we mentioned in our last issue, the Silver Lake Brewing Project opened its doors earlier in 2017, a few years after a simple conversation gained legs. A group of thirty-somethings decided they wanted a brewery in their community, and now, in a renovated, historic space in the Village of Perry sits a new brewery that’s as inviting as it is relaxing. 

Brewmaster Tony Jones has been putting together a tap list that’s sure to please all beer lovers. There are IPAs, cream ales, stouts, and some killer saisons, just to name a few.  

SLBP has quickly become a community staple, with a local ice cream shop making a flavor from its brown ale, and other local partnerships. 

 

Amber Lantern Brewing Company (44 N. Main St., Warsaw): Drive about fifteen minutes west into Warsaw and stop at the Amber Lantern Brewing Company, a brewery and restaurant that’s been in the game for a while. 

Owner Tommy Streamer was a home brewer for a long time before taking over a local restaurant and putting his product through the taps, officially giving life to his business in 2011. Since then, ALBC has done nothing but grow—in more than one sense of the word. It’s one of the more popular hangouts in Wyoming County, and Streamer is looking to open a second location in Livingston County sometime in the future. 

As for the beer, Streamer likes to think locally. In addition to sourcing ingredients close by, he has beers like his Tiger IPA, named after the Warsaw High School mascot, and the Farmer’s Hand Chocolate Milk Porter, an homage to the community’s dairy farming industry. 

ALBC lives up to the “pub” in “brewpub,” too, with a full menu of American classics to go with your beer and football game, good food to fill you up, and great beer to wash it down. 

 

Windy Brew (733 US-20A, Strykersville):  Windy Brew offers a unique craft beer experience. Not only can you drink stuff on tap, you can make your own beer in the same space. 

Owner/brewer Bill Snyder has been brewing beer for a long time and decided in his retirement to a) continue making craft beer and b) help others make craft beer. He renovated his garage into a welcoming space to stop by for a drink but also added necessary equipment to create your own concoctions. Snyder has all the pots and pans, grain, and hops you need to get the job done, and he’ll help along the way. Even after you leave, Snyder sticks around to make sure your beer is fermenting nicely. 

When you pull up, it’s easy to see where the name comes from, too. The area is known for its towering wind turbines that greet you as you drive in. 

If you are feeling thirsty and want an adventure, take a trip out west! 

 

Joe Leathersich is a city of Rochester resident who works in the rural communities of the (585). He enjoys craft beer, his dogs, and the Buffalo Bills. 

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