Another Look at Nanobreweries – Taking "Local" to the Next Level

Yesterday an article on nanobreweries (and more specifically Community Beer Works) appeared in the New York Cork Report.

I blogged about the growing trend back in August (see Nanobreweries – The Next Big Thing for Beer) and I’m writing again today with an exciting update: the national trend is still trending. In fact, it’s flourishing.

Community Beer Works
Image credit: The Buffalo News

In case you need a refresher the term “nanobrewing” refers to a brewing operation that is much smaller than a microbrewery. In the case of our friends at Community Beer Works here in Buffalo, they plan to put out 1.5 barrel batches (about 47 gallons) – which is really small. Ethan Cox, one of the co-founders and owners, has explained that the industry generally classifies you as nano as long as you’re three barrels or less. He admits however, that even those guidelines are a wide range. “You have guys rocking the same system they were homebrewers on; they’ve just applied for the license.”

Although they’ll encounter some challenges because of their size, there are some pretty cool benefits too. They might not be able to buy ingredients in huge quantities that could help them save but at the same time, they can try interesting and unique recipes that they may not ever brew again. They identify that advantage as flexibility and that’s a word that’s pretty important to avid brewers who are passionate about what they’re doing.

When you’re working on a larger scale, the opportunity to be flexible and try new things just isn’t feasible (unless you’re lucky enough to be working with unlimited funding.)

These guys are planning to open later this year and their initial offerings will be a pale ale and a saison. The pale ale will serve as their flagship beer and the saison will likely be offered at local restaurants and bottled in 750s. “Beyond that, it’s whatever the market wants and whatever we feel like brewing,” explained Cox’s business partner and co-founder Rudy Watkins.

They’ll keg most of their beers, so area bars and restaurants will play a big role in their success. Even better, you’ll be able to go in to fill your growler and talk beer with the brewers. Perhaps the coolest part of this seemingly small operation is the big impact they’re going to have on the community. Not only will they source local ingredients to make the beer, after they’re done brewing it the spent grain will be driven around the corner to an urban farm called The Massachusetts Avenue Project. They have “this awesome urban aquaponic system” where they’re growing tilapia to supply to local high-end restaurants. Cox explains, “As part of that system, they have worms chewing up whatever they can find, and not only will the worms eat our spent grain, but also their chickens will peck at it. Between the worms and the chickens I feel really good about where our grain is going. I think it’s totally badass. It’s one of my favorite things about our plan.”

We’re excited to try whatever crazy stuff these guys might come up with and we’re glad that the nano craze has hit our hometown. Hope you’re just as fortunate! The more beer options, the better. Bring it on little guys.



  • Ethan April 23, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Thanks! We’re eager to unleash our Imperial Oak Aged Sour Mild Pale Stout with Snozzberries & miracle fruit.

  • Hannah April 23, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Ethan- and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries! But in all honesty, I’m STOKED to try your brews. Please say you’ll actually be making a sour? Mmmmm

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