After striking out time and time again while seeking out a potential new home, the years-long taproom search is over for One-Eyed Cat Brewing, who has officially signed a lease to set up shop on Main Street in Williamsville inside the former Pairings Wine Bar. To be exact, the address is 5893 Main St.
While the timeframe is mostly determined by getting their proper licensing, One-Eyed Cat hopes to have the doors open by March.
Finding a permanent spot to serve their ‘beer flavored beer’ has been a long time coming for the award-winning homebrewers. In 2019, they were slated to open inside a renovated church in Clarence Hollow, even go so as to begin the construction phase before things fell through. Fast forward a year and the brewery entered talks to open at the former Resurgence Brewing on Niagara Street, a deal which also fell apart. But fast forward one more year, and all of the festivals, all of the pop-up shares and bottles shares have paid off as One-Eyed Cat will soon become one of the over 40 breweries that currently call Western New York.
“Not to sound too corny, but I just walked in and knew that it was the right space,” One-Eyed Cat Head Brewer Patrick Alexanderson said. “[It was] the perfect mixture of classy and funky. Plus we firmly believe that beer should be treated like fine wine.”
The space, which is mostly turnkey, offers approximately 2,000 square feet, though it needs to be adjusted for a taproom. Since it is a former wine bar, they will need to install draft towers and plan to open with eight taps. The location features 20 parking spaces, as well as street parking nearby.
For food, they have partnered with Pork Bellies BBQ, an award-winning smoked meat and BBQ company, who will run the taproom’s kitchen.
The brewhouse will start as a 2bbl system in an effort to keep costs down initially, with plans for eight fermenters, which they will add to in time. They also plan to open with a barrel aging program featuring 20 barrels, a combination of bourbon, tequila, gin and rum barrels.
If you’re unfamiliar with their beer, a few of the eccentric beer styles you can expect are a kettle soured imperial stout, Mexican hot chocolate porter, all-Citra hopped imperial IPA, smoked Bohemian pilsner and, in my opinion, their best beer, a bourbon/oak infused English Barleywine called Maenad’s Kiss. They’ve also honed in on classic beer styles such as hefeweizen, cream ale and ESB, among others.
“I’ve been in Buffalo since 1997. I love Buffalo,” One-Eyed Cat Assistant Brewer Brian Butler said. “I’ve been a fan of Buffalo-based beers for a long time as well. It’s still surreal to be able to transition from the periphery of the local beer scene to homebrewing and now into owning and operating a brewery. There are some really great breweries around town and I want our name to be associated with great Buffalo beer. So whatever hard work and outside the box thinking it’ll take is what we are gonna do, and start doing in just a couple of months. I’m pumped.”
One-Eyed Cat plans to open a new production facility in the next 12-18 months and keep the Williamsville taproom as a satellite location. They also have plans to open a taproom in Tampa, Florida down the road.
“After years of putting in so much time and attention, so much of my heart and soul into this project, it is almost saddening to think that last Wednesday I brewed my last batch in my basement (10% Russian Imperial Stout pilot, BTW). I know that Brian feels the same. He had a send-off brew day on Friday. It almost feels like the end of a relationship,” Alexaderson said. “But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, underneath there is a raging excitement to FINALLY see the fruit of all the work. I want to say that it is about us serving folks our beer; about having people being there for us and our beer, but the reality is that we do and see that every time we do an event. We have the greatest fans! It’s more of a feeling that we are going to be able to invite all of YOU to OUR home for a beer. It’s that personal for us.”
“Thinking through the days of carrying a cooler bag into Thawfest, bringing bottles into work for co-workers to try, homebrew competitions, watching Sara roll her eyes or sigh when someone says “what’s One-Eyed Cat?,” announcing big news, taking it back, churches, pop-ups, people saying that we don’t “deserve” to be at festivals because we “are not brewers,” being called “a T-shirt company that happens to make beer,” and the endless barrage of “have you guys found a location yet?,” the greatest thing was watching someone accept a sample, walk about 10 feet away, sip and turn back to look at the OECB banner and nod their head with a smile on their face. This has never been primarily about the beer for us, it’s about the people,” he continues. “We studied and sampled and tweaked our recipes to bring people the closest examples of the styles, and that fine-tuning will continue. But again, it’s about the people. It’s about being able to educate people who come to the brewery about English Barleywine versus American Barleywine; about variations of style in Porters; about the subtle differences in bittering hops, grains, wild yeasts, etc. It’s about watching it “click,” and the smile as they realize that they now have a relationship with the liquid in their glass. It’s about brewing beer that makes folks smile. That brings them together, facilitates discussions about beer, sports, life. It’s about communion.”
“One-Eyed Cat Brewing is from us, but it’s for you. We can’t wait to serve you.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/oneeyedcatbrewing.
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 email@example.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).