The week after coming back from New England, I was back in the air again traveling to another city for work. This time I was heading to Buffalo NY. Buffalo isn’t really what I would call a beer spot, but if you look hard enough, you can find some great places.
I decided to come in a day early. I had anticipated using the extra day to go to Niagara Falls and then head to Southern Tier. It was raining pretty hard when I landed, so I decided to scratch the waterfalls and head straight over to Southern Tier Brewery.
I had visited the brewery before – literally almost to the day – last year, so I knew what lay in store, but it’s still a really great drive and an awesome place to visit. Southern Tier is located almost halfway between Eerie Pennsylvania and Buffalo NY in the town of Lakewood NY. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Buffalo, so if you’re planning a trip, then be sure you leave yourself plenty of sober-up-time if you decide to have some beers.
The drive over from Buffalo highways for the most part. When I went there last year, I stopped at a monument that was erected to commemorate and mark the occasion when a little girl recommended that Abraham Lincoln grow a beard. I don’t remember the name of the town, but it was sort of strange to say the least. The ride gets a little more interesting when you get closer to Lakewood and actually get to drive around the lake.
Lakewood doesn’t seem to have much to offer as far as shopping or dining, but it does have some nice scenery. It seems like the area is pretty popular for camping and outdoor activities. I could probably see it being a pretty popular place to visit in the summer time. Now that it’s cold out, the only reason I could see myself going there would be for the Southern Tier Brewery. I finally pulled up to a small industrial complex an hour and a half after leaving my hotel and I walked in. Nothing has really changed since the last time I was here – Which is a good thing. As soon as you walk into the lobby area of the brewery, it feels more like an office building. However, in front of you are the rest rooms and a large wooden structure that has the Southern Tier logo etched into it. To the left is what looks to be an office, and to the right is the tasting room/bar.
When you walk into the bar, you would think you entered a ski lodge or log cabin. The entire room is wood from the floor to ceiling. Even the bar looks like it was made from a freshly cut down tree. There is a bar area, but no one really sits at it. The beer menu is located on a chalk board above the bar which will give the different prices of growler fills, pints etc. They even offer food, but I can’t comment on the quality since I never tried it. The seating is mostly high-chair seats and tables set up all over the room. On the left side, there’s a window that faces into the brewery and you can watch the staff working on different beers. It’s a little bit disappointing though because you really only get a view of 3 tanks. You can only get so excited watching fermentation tanks for so long. There’s some doors at the other end of the room that open up to the outside patio, but no one was sitting out there because it was entirely too cold. They had a pretty good retail area where you could purchase beer, shirts and other shwag and I decided to pick up some Back Burner Barleywine since it was on sale for $3 a bottle. I couldn’t pass that up.
I didn’t really have much time to spare when I arrived, so I decided to dive right into a pint of Iniquity. I had wanted to try some other beers, but figured that I might as well take the opportunity to try some hoppy beers which were literally only a couple days old. Afterwards, the bartender gave me a half pint of Crème Brule, which I found to be very generous considering that I just asked for a sample. It’s probably good that he didn’t give me any more. Crème Brule is entirely too much for me to enjoy a full pint of. Although I thoroughly enjoy many of the beers that Southern Tier makes, most of the Black Water Series needs to be split between two people. The residual sweetness is a little bit much for me to drink a 22oz bottle of.
I assumed it would probably be a good time to get back to Buffalo since the bar was closing, so I drove back off into the wilderness and back to the hotel for the night. I was only there for an hour and a half, but felt it was worth the trip. I wouldn’t drive there from my home in New Jersey, but it was worth the trip traveling from Buffalo. They offer tours, but only on Saturdays. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to tour the facility. Hopefully I’ll be back in the area next year, so I can see the massive expansion that they’re starting and see if the change anything with the tasting room.
If you’re planning on visiting the brewery, it’s definitely a destination spot. I don’t remember seeing any restaurants or anything else while driving there. Although the brewery provides a few brochures promoting other local attractions, most of them seem to be for outdoor activities. Just be warned.