Let me set the scene for you. My brother-in-law, an Ithaca resident, true beer aficionado and occasional home brewer, was home with the family for Thanksgiving. While driving on Boston State Road in Hamburg from his parents’ house to our shared in-laws’ house, he noticed a miragelike green-and-white sign: “Hamburg Brewing Company.”
Say what? Hamburg Brewing Company? Located mere minutes from our in-laws’ pad?!
Indeed. His joyous text message was the impetus I needed to finally check out the HBC, a relative newbie on the local beer scene, but one that already has created major buzz.
We ventured forth on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and to our surprise, the parking lot was packed. Clearly, the word is out, we thought. Walking in, it was obvious that this was the case.
The upscale, gorgeous barnlike structure was filled to the brim with folks of varying ages and dress. Christmas lights were strewn throughout the wood interior, a fire roared in the fireplace, college football was on the tube – it was like we had died and gone to beer heaven.
The bar was small, but the service was fast, and a helpful beer menu broke down our options. Currently, HBC is brewing five different beers, four of which were available during our visit. (The brewer was out of the Small Town Saison.)
Its White Corner Wheat was the lightest of the bunch, and my favorite. The India Pale Ale was solid, the OMS Milk Stout a heavier option, and “black as night” (as the brewer puts it) No Lux was a hearty blend with a 7 percent alcohol content.
We opted for the four-beer sampler, which rang up at $16 for the two. Not a bad deal, and a fine way to try almost everything on tap. I enjoyed it all, while the beer expert in our bunch deemed them fine, if not life-altering.
(It is worth noting that HBC beer can be found at a number of other local spots, including the Ebenezer Ale House in West Seneca, JP Fitzgerald’s and Mammoser’s in Hamburg, Alternative Brews in Amherst, Blue Monk and Colter Bay in Buffalo. Check the website for the full list.)
We were lucky to grab a table – it was that busy – and planting ourselves on the comfortable wooden stools, dug in and took a look around. A college game was playing nearby, an indication that the HBC would be a fine Sabres or Bills viewing spot.
After starting our beer, we decided to order something from the small but tasty food menu. It featured a sausage sandwich ($7), stuffed peppadews (with ricotta and Borsian cheese, $7), baked pretzel sticks with spicy mustard and sriracha ($6), a cheese and meat plate ($10), and a personal pizza (cheese and pepperoni or Margherita, $8).
It took some time to order – we were told we needed to place our order at the bar, which was then several folks’ deep – but our pretzel sticks came quickly, and were quite good. The menu seems a fine mix of slightly elevated pub fare.
So is the Hamburg Brewing Company a local beer game-changer? It is certainly a boom for Southtowns drinkers, a beer garden-esque stunner that I cannot wait to visit again.
While leaving, we noticed a large pond next door. The Hamburg Brewing Company looked lovely amid the snow on Boston State Road, but it will be even prettier when the summer sun is shining on that pond, and an IPA is in hand.
Hamburg Brewing Company
Where: 6553 Boston State Road, Hamburg (www.hamburgbrewing.com)
Scene: A beer garden-esque stunner of a building with an upscale feel.
On tap: Small Town Saison, White Corner Wheat, India Pale Ale, OMS Milk Stout (a heavier option) and the dark No Lux.
Music: A football game was playing on our arrival, but once the game’s sound was turned down, we heard an eclectic rock mix of Franz Ferdinand, MGMT and Jet, a.k.a., disappeared-Aussie-rocker-dudes.
Hours: Open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.