WILSON – Mark Woodcock estimates that his family brewery – Woodcock Brothers Brewery Co. in Wilson – sells 100 kegs of homemade brew a month to visitors to the spectacularly renovated, century-old cold storage facility turned brewery and restaurant at 638 Lake St.
But in coming days, patrons at select restaurants and taverns throughout Niagara County also will be able to sample beer from Niagara County’s only on-site brewery, as Woodcock Brewery begins selling its beer through Certo Brothers Distributing Co., Inc.
“We’ll have Porter, Amber Ale and Summer Ale available to the public through our distributors,” Woodcock said. “We’ve asked them to target Lewiston, Niagara Falls and Lockport to start and we’ll go from there.
“If they want to try the other three we make right now, as well, they’ll have to visit the restaurant,” Woodcock said. Those would be India Pale Ale, American Pale Ale and Golden Ale.
Woodcock noted that his family brewery is the “only brewery in Niagara County with on-site production. People get to see it made here – it’s here for the public to enjoy.”
Patrons leaning on the polished wooden bar top made of reclaimed floor joists can peer through the floor-to-ceiling glass behind the bar to glimpse the 600-gallon brewing vats on the floor below.
Woodcock and his wife, Andrea, of Youngstown, and his brother, Tim, and his wife, Debbie, who live in Wilson, are partners in the business that opened its doors last November. Mark Woodcock also owns Ricmar Electric in North Tonawanda, where Tim serves as a foreman and project coordinator and Andrea is treasurer. Their experience in the building trades enhanced their ability to repurpose the abandoned building to the tune of nearly $1.5 million over a two-year period.
“We could expand our beer-making capacity three-fold without having to expand our facility,” Mark Woodcock said.“We can do about 4,200 gallons a month now and we could go to 12,000 gallons without having to increase our footprint,” he said.
The Woodcocks also have enjoyed a boost in becoming an associate member of the burgeoning Niagara Wine Trail.
“We’re located on their map and in their book, so people can find us very easily,” Woodcock said.
Mayor Bernard “Bernie” Leiker is excited about the opportunity for increased beer production for a couple of good reasons, he said.
“First, that means more business for them,” he said. “People are coming from all over to visit them. It’s amazing how well they’re doing. There’s such a demand for their beer – it’s very impressive.
“And secondly, making more beer means they’re using more water and this could eventually help reduce our water rates,” he said.
Looking into the future, Woodcock said he doesn’t know how much water his brewery will use or how it will affect taxpayers’ rates, but added, “Obviously, the more beer you sell, the more water you use.
“Expanding our current capacity (for beer production) three-fold is a steep chore, but we’re up to it,” he said.