Over the course of the past two years, Strykersville’s Windy Brew have been quietly and consistently honing their craft, becoming one of the better kept secrets of the Western New York beer scene. The unique brewery, which boasts the first Custom Brew Center in New York State (where you can brew a beer at the brewery), is accomplishing a lot in their sleepy hamlet thanks to a family of consistent brews, including PTSD IPA, Sheldon Bush Cream Ale and Wild Mango Pale Ale, to name a few. If you weren’t paying attention before, now is the time to rectify that as Windy Brew prepares to celebrate their Two Year Anniversary on March 1 and 2.
Since opening their doors to the public on March 4, 2017, Windy Brew has grown steadily. In July 2017, they started distributing. In August 2017, the brewery purchased an Oktober Canning Machine in order to offer 16oz. beers to-go single or four packs. Then, in October, they bought a 3-barrel brew kettle in order to keep up with growing demand for their beer. Last spring, the brewery added a small food menu that includes pizzas (the crust is made from their own beer), pretzel sticks, and tater tot poutine, with immediate plans to chicken wings.
None of this is lost on Brewery President/Owner Michelle Snyder, who is still taken aback by all of the success her small brewery has garnered over the last two years, especially that of the Custom Brew Center.
“It’s hard to believe we are celebrating year two already!” she says. “This past year has been nothing but successful here at Windy Brew, with taking on a few employees, creating great beers, and distributing to local establishments in WNY. But what has really stood out this year is the increased interest of people coming in to make their own beer using our Custom Brew Center. We have had stag parties come in and brew, families, and just good friends. It is a good team building activity as well. You don’t need any experience in brewing to brew your own beer! It is a hands-on approach that allows people to see how the brewing process is done and receiving a good quality beer after four weeks when they return.”
Windy Brew’s Custom Brew Center features 26 beer styles to choose from, ranging from Cream Ale, Fruited Wheats and Brown Ales to IPA’s, stouts and even a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Prices range from $130-$160 (depending on the style) for the beer ingredients, plus 60 cents per bottle (which can be reused). You can brew your very own recipe and take it home in bottles or kegs. More info here.
The Strykersville watering hole got its start thanks to Michelle’s husband, Bill Snyder, an avid homebrewer and ‘experimenter,’ according to Michelle. Their son helped to build the brew station, and the family put on an addition to the garage for the tasting room and the garage became a brewery with an added on walk in cooler.
“Bill has been a home brewer for several years and he was upgrading to a system in the garage while our son was building the brew station as his senior project at school. Then, about a year ago, Bill and our brother-in-law had visited a Brew on Premise facility in Ohio that he really enjoyed. As we were driving back, I told Bill I think this is something we could do in our garage a few times a month. No one in Buffalo has a Brew on Premise and it’s something different.”
“This has been a family affair as Bill and I are the sole owners, but we could have never completed it without the support of children Kelsey, Bradley and my dad Peter Pilc, who has spent many hours building this project with us. Everything in the building was built by us, from the bar to the tables and the light fixtures. Our bar was built with 1×1 boards glued together then planed on a planner and wrapped in the front with metal. The tables are metal barrels with a wooden top that matches the bar top. The most unique item are the stools we needed a not so tall stool and decided on milk cans that were donated by a family member cleaned up and painted black. \We made nice seat covers and screwed them to the top.”
Looking back at the brewery’s second year, a few beers stick out in Snyder’s mind. “Some fun and interesting beers that were created this year were Habanero Lime Cream Ale, Mango Pale Ale, and we are now playing with some sour creations. These beers have been well received by our customers and will continue to come on from time to time.”
As for the what the future holds for the Snyder’s and Windy Brew, there is nowhere to go from here but up. Snyder says that the next thing is to upgrade their brewhouse, or, where the magic happens, if you will, once again.
“We are in the planning stage for an addition in the spring/summer to go to a 7-barrel system later his year. This will allow us to increase our distribution in the WNY area.”
Windy Brew will celebrate their second anniversary on March 1 and 2 (5-9pm). The party will feature live music from John Peresan on Friday and Kevin Mikula on Saturday. Both will play from 5-9pm. The party will also mark the release of a new beer. Partygoers will also enjoy $1 off all beers as they celebrate. For more information, click here and here.
“We are so happy with the way business is going and growing! Never did we see this coming, it truly is a dream come true,” Snyder concludes.
Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, 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), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.