Originally Published in Buffalo Business First
October 10, 2018
By James Fink
Don’t mind the construction scene inside what was for many years a manufacturing operation.
Ignore the dust and unfinished walls as crews install and ready equipment for a different type of production facility with offices and residential space.
This fall the Labatt House will open its taps, further cementing the Canadian brewer’s presence in Buffalo.
Labatt USA has already moved its corporate offices from the 40-50 Fountain Plaza complex into the building’s second floor and next week, the company will use the Labatt House to host some 700 company personnel who will be coming to Buffalo for a week-long sales and marketing conference.
The Labatt House is the centerpiece of a $20 million-plus investment by Pegula Sports and Entertainment that converted an early 1900s former warehouse into the mixed-use facility, anchored by Labatt. Pegula Sports and Entertainment will also move its offices into the building and a handful of apartments are planned for the top floor. The entire project should be completed next year.
Labatt and PSE have divided the first floor into separate but equal segments.
The brewery will occupy the northernmost portion of the first floor where 11 fermenters and eight serving tanks are clearly visible by design.
“I guess I’ll feel like the monkey in the cage,” said brewmaster Ryan Brady.
Each of the fermenters and tanks will hold the equivalent of 10 barrels of craft beer, or 310 gallons of beer.
Some of the tanks will be directly connected to the adjoining Labatt Brew House, a tasting room with 12 taps serving as a test kitchen of sorts.
“We want the customer feedback,” Brady said.
Initially, some of beers that will be offered include a New England IPA, a Porter, Blonde Ale, KellerBier and Hefeweizen.
And, of course, the mainstay beers — Labatt Blue and Blue Light — will be available though brewed and imported from Canada.
A private dining room will overlook the brewing operation.
The 200-person capacity Draft Room restaurant will feature more than 40 beers on tap, more than half made by Labatt, along with pub food. An outdoor beer garden is also in the works.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment will operate the Draft Room for Labatt, said Dominic Verni, PSE vice president of hospitality.
“Everything we serve will be foods we cook on site,” Verni said. “And, it will be seasonal adjusted to match some of the beers.”