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The Beer Circle » American Barleywine, Barleywine, Breweries, Community Beer Works » Community Beer Works – Buffalo, NY

Community Beer Works – Buffalo, NY

While up in Buffalo, New York, over Thanksgiving, I wanted to visit a local brewery or two (time and liver permitting). Three people recommended that I visit Community Beer Works so I made sure to check that one out.

CBW opened their doors about six months ago in an old malting mill located just off of the Niagara River. The mill had shut down in the early 1900’s but at one time it was the largest mill east of Chicago. It is the perfect setting for new brewery. Greg, one of the six owners, was our sample pourer and tour guide. Buffalo has had experience in the past with grain mill explosions and was hesitant at first about allowing the brewery to open in their current location because there are apartments above. As Greg “joked,” CBW had to install a fire-proof and bomb-proof milling room. The brewing space is in a great U-shape. Ingredients and empty kegs come in one door, next is the brewing & sink area, next are the fermentation tanks, followed by the keg refrigerator. The refrigerator is right next to the exit door.

CBW has a 50 barrel/month capacity. They have five beers available right now. Their full-time beers are Frank (an American Pale Ale), The Whale (a nutty Brown Ale),  De Mass (Belgian Amber), and The IPA. Another beer is currently on-tap but isn’t a full-time brew: Funkrays, a barleywine brewed with Brettanomyces, which is reviewed below. I was very impressed with all of their releases. Greg said that the beers have scaled very well from the original homebrew recipes that they are based upon. In fact, he calls the operation “hombrewing on steroids.”

The brewing system is a 1.5 barrel system and they generally brew a double batch every brew day. Unfortunately, they only have six 1.5 stainless steel and two 3 barrel plastic fermenters. The only “filtering” that CBW does is to crash-cool the beer to drop the yeast out of suspension so that most of it can be removed prior to kegging. No other clarification agents are used.

Funkrays – Barleywine with Brett
The beer is a bit lighter than one would expect from a barleywine. It has a reddish color with a hint of orange peeking through. The beer is a bit hazy, a bit like a heavy fog that is lifting: clear on the bottom by cloudy up top. The head is slightly off-white and fades quickly. There is no lacing.
Funkrays' aroma captures the best of a barleywine and a sour beer. I am hit with the tart, sour aroma of a green apple and then the sweet plum/dark fruit notes of a standard barleywine push on through.
The effects of the Brett yeast is most prominent in the taste. I get the tangy, sour fruity flavors most of all. It is more of a cherry taste than the apple I got in the aroma. Some heavy fig and date aspects one would expect of a barleywine come through after the sourness.
The use of the Brett yeast lightens the beer and does agreat job of hiding the 9.5% ABV. The sour taste lingers on the tongue and back of the mouth long after taste
I had a free tasting but then I went ahead an bought a 32oz growler for $12 or $13. It's a bit expensive for a growler fill but I wanted to support the brewery.
This beer is a great example of what a fledgling brewery can come up with. It isn't too avant garde but it does step out of the standard barleywine category a bit. I recommend this beer if you are ever in the Buffalo area.

Beer Stats
Style: Barleywine
Serving: Growler
Size: 32oz
ABV: 9.50%
BA Score: N/A
RB Score: N/A (3 reviews)

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Written by Bob Pack

Simply put, Bob is a beer lover. He goes out of his way to try new beers whenever he can find them. The love of trying new beers had resulted in a beer label collection of over 1400. When it comes down to it, Bob is a hop head. He loves IPAs (including double and black). Stouts are a close second. His tweet reviews on @nova_beer are simple and approachable. Let him know what you think. Find Bob Pack on Google Plus

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