Orchard Park’s First Line Brewing, Western New York’s 41st craft brewery, will officially open their doors to the public this weekend. And when those doors open this Saturday at noon, the brewery will offer seven beers, including a solid lineup of IPAs, along with a fruited seltzer. Located at 4906 S. Buffalo Street near the Orchard Park Country Club, the brewery’s mantra is “crafting high quality specialty brews that honor America’s Heroes.”
The brewery used the pandemic to build an addition onto the existing building, which, in hindsight, was a great idea. The taproom offers bar and table seating, and a gravel beer garden alongside the brewery with more seating under strung Edison bulb lights. The pandemic also allowed the brewery to build a parking lot, which is always a plus.
I enjoyed the beer garden and those welcoming lights last night as I drank my way through two flights of First Line’s launch lineup, chatting with Head Brewer/Co-Founder Shane Stewart and 12 Gates Brewing Head Brewer Matt Gordon, who happened to be at the table next to me.
PRO TIP: Order the fried pickles. The dipping sauce is great.
I started with Pregame Raspberry Lemonade Seltzer (3.5%), which was pretty much as it sounds – a sweet alcoholic lemonade with a touch of berry. My wife drank this all night. Next up was Bitch’n Betty Blueberry Muffin Ale (6.5%), my least favorite beer of the night. It tasted like a dry blueberry muffin with faint blueberries and notes of undercooked muffin batter. I gave it a second shot thinking my palate was off, but still didn’t enjoy it. We move on. From there, I went to Alpha Bravo Citrus IPA (7%), a very sessionable IPA with subtle citrus and light hops. Hop, Drop and Roll DDH New England IPA (6.5%) was one of my favorites; a nice dryer body with a soft finish. This was not your typical DDH NEIPA juice bomb. I was told this is to become a series, with different hops used in each batch.
M.O.A.B. Chocolate Stout (6.8%) featured killer aromas of silky chocolate, but the body was thin and dry, which Gordon thought was more a burnt flavor. Sgt. Hops NEIPA (6%) was a solid hazy creation with mango and papaya, more rind than flesh, and one of First Line’s best beers. Speaking of best beers, their Yabba Dabba…Duuude Fruity Pebbles NEIPA (7.8%), yes, a New England IPA brewed with Fruity Pebbles cereal, was very good – berry, a little grape, lime and more. You can definitely taste the cereal in this one. Cards on the table, I ordered several of these. I finished (my flights anyway) with the We the People Blonde Ale (6.5%), a solid and refreshing blonde with light fruit notes. This should be a good gateway beer and would also taste great in the hot sun.
PRO TIP: If you’re looking to rapidly consume a beer, order the We the People Blonde Ale. I speak from experience.
First Line’s grand opening will take place August 22 (12-10pm) and August 23 (12-9pm). Seating is first come, first serve due to current COVID-19 regulations and masks are required for entry. The brewery will offer limited bar seating and inside and outside tables as well. They will also have food.
Stay tuned to https://www.facebook.com/firstlinebrewing/ for more information.
Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the 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), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).