By Rick Miller
Ellicottville Brewing Co. is branching out to neighboring Little Valley. It already has craft brew pub/restaurants in Ellicottville, Fredonia and Lakewood.
The company, founded in Ellicottville in 1995, purchased the former Salamanca Beverage Corp. building at 202 Second St., and plans to open a $6 million brewery and pub in the 75,000-square-foot building later this year.
Plans are to add an elevator for second floor access to a large brick-lined room capable of seating 200 people for a variety of events. The pub will be built behind the building.
The brewery is currently under construction by a crew of around 15 craftsmen, including specialty welders. Most of the rest of the work on the building has been done by local companies.
Peter Kreinheder, president of Kreinheder Properties LLC, walks through the brew house with its stainless steel brewing vessels and fermentation casks. There are large beer storage containers in the high-ceilinged cream white colored room as well. Most of the stainless steel is still wrapped in protective white plastic.
Technicians are working on electronics for the brewing vats under the direction of a representative from the German company they were purchased from. Welders are working on piping for the fermentation tanks, manufactured in Oregon.
Nearby, the filling machine — featuring German technology built in Italy — has a 32-head filler. It waits to be hooked up to the filler production line for bottles that originate in what Kreinheder calls the Lavern and Shirley room. Empty bottles are introduced into the line, where bottles are washed and labels are applied before the line goes to the bottling room. After filling, the bottles come back into the Lavern and Shirley room where they are automatically loaded into 12 packs and 6 packs. The line was built by a Portland, Ore. company.
Kreinheder says a canning line will be added later.
Right now, all Ellicottville Brewing Co. beer is being made at the Ellicottville site. Materials are stored at the Little Valley site and shipped to Ellicottville for bottling and filling kegs.
Kreinheder had hoped to be making beer at the Little Valley site by now, but several construction issues came up including the need for a pretreatment plant for wastewater. The wastewater, high in sugars, will be run through a reverse osmosis system before being discharged into the village wastewater treatment system. Some will be used for cleaning purposes in the brewery.
He’d like to open the pub this summer, which would feature a tasting room with a bar and a menu that is still being developed. “We’re still working on the menu,” Kreinheder said. “It will be complementary but different than the Ellicottville restaurant.”
Brewing will continue at the Ellicottville site, but bottling operations will focus on Little Valley. High-end lagers including oak barrel-aged beers will be featured in Ellicottville.
Kreinheder plans to have outdoor music events behind the Little Valley brewery.
Kreinheder’s plan to build the Little Valley site of Ellicottville Brewing Co. into a regional brewery destination rests on The Science Center of Brewing that will take up the north end of the building.
“It will be where we can show the malting process, how yeast ferments and the science of beer,” Kreinheder said. Tours will start in the science center, go through the brew house and into the pub.
Dan Minner, the head brewer at Ellicottville Brewing Co., is supervising much of the brew house installation, working closely with the representatives from the companies providing the equipment. He still starts out in Ellicottville to make sure the staff knows what needs to be done.
“It’s pretty neat to have such an old building come back to life,” Minner said. It started as a milk plant on the railroad. Later it was used to make King Windows and then it became the distribution center for Salamanca Beverage Corp.
Minner has been working for Ellicottville Brewing Co. for 15 years. He started as a bartender and then started working in the brew house. A Cattaraugus native, he started making craft beer in Colorado before coming back to New York. He worked his way up to head brewer.
While the new brew house is capable of making 180 barrels a day, it has to ferment up to two weeks, Minner said. “You’ve got to plan ahead at least a month out from the point of sale,” he said.
Kreinheder is glad for the opportunity to start a new facility with the space that the Little Valley building has. “The infrastructure is just great,” he said. “There is no way we could afford to build a 75,000 square foot building. We are repurposing this building to grow our business.”
It will also provide 25 to 30 good paying jobs in a county that has seen many manufacturing plants wither and close.
While the first pilot or test batches will start as soon as April, the first commercial beer making and bottling should start in June.