Plans to open Labatt brewery show strength of industry in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Labatt USA says its plans to open an experimental brewery and restaurant in Buffalo's Cobblestone District show just how far the industry has come and how strong a brewing community exists in Western New York.

"It's not us trying to go out and enter the craft category," Labatt USA General Manager Glen Tibbits explained. "It's about us participating in all the different categories and really creating a very healthy and vibrant brewing community in downtown Buffalo."

The John Labatt Project includes a "pilot brewery" that will experiment with different beer recipes and ingredients. The company is looking to find a brewmaster who will lead the brewing efforts and work with the restaurant's chef to create beers and dishes that compliment each other.

Big Ditch Brewing Company in Buffalo is a testament to the growing brewing industry in WNY, according to president Matthew Kahn.

"We've definitely exceeded our own expectations for how fast we were going to grow and how much beer we were going to sell in a short period of time," he said. "It's great that we have a real brewing scene. A lot of creativity. I think having more breweries challenges each of the breweries to do better."

"We want to develop a great beer community and that benefits the city in more ways than one," Tibbits said. "[The city benefits] from a tourism perspective and from a development perspective."

Labatt USA expects to open the brewery, restaurant and its new corporate headquarters at 79 Perry Street, next to the Key Bank Center, in the fall.

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