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Tasting trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits

Buffalo’s craft beer and distilling scene has proliferated in the last few years, contributing to the city’s noteworthy renaissance — with a slew new spots popping up downtown and in the surrounding suburbs. Knock a few off of your beer bucket list in a day with our three walkable tasting routes: one for a quick stop, an afternoon or a full day of drinks!

Route 1: Quick Sips

Start at...
Buffalo Distilling Co.

860 Seneca Street

Buffalo Distilling Company | Tasting trail: Buffalo's Homegrown spirits | Discover 2018 | Buffalo Magazine

(Buffalo Distilling Company)

The makers of One Foot Cock Bourbon, Moonshine, Apple Brandy, their own brand of vodka and Krupnik (a Polish honey-flavored liqueur available in the spring) also create some seasonal flavors to try, like espresso liqueur, peppermint vodka, apple pie moonshine (fall and winter) and more. All of their spirits are made completely on site. After you grab your sampler, which includes 3 tastes for $5, you can sit out on their patio and play some cornhole. They offer free tours of the distillery, subject to availability.

Travel 0.11 miles to...
Flying Bison Brew Company

840 Seneca Street

Flying Bison Brew Company | Tasting Trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover 2018 | Buffalo Magazine

(Flying Bison)

Flying Bison has a variety of seasonal beers and year-round favorites — plus a stellar front patio. Enjoy a tasting flight ($7) or take a free tour of the facility Thursdays and Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (reserve time for larger groups). Fun fact: While they offer a tasty snack menu, you’re actually allowed to bring your own food to the bar as well. A great thing to keep in mind during Food Truck Tuesday.

Travel 0.56 miles to...
Tommyrotter Distillery

500 Seneca Street

Tommyrotter Distillery | Tasting trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Shawna Stanley)

Stop into Tommyrotter to taste their award-winning spirits — American Gin, small-batch vodka, Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin, Napa Valley Heritage Cask Straight Bourbon Whiskey and triple barrel American Whiskey. After sampling a few free tastings to see what the fuss is about, you can leave with some shirts and bottles to stock your home bar.

Route 2: Afternoon outing

Once you’ve finished at Tommyrotter, continue on below.

Travel 1.15 miles to...
Pearl Street Grill & Brewery
76 Pearl Street

Pearl Street Grill & Brewery | Tasting trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover 2018

(Pearl Street)

Once a dress factory in the 1800s, Pearl Street is now home to one of Buffalo’s best breweries. Pearl Street is the perfect spot to relax for a while and order some food. They have games on the second floor, free popcorn, delicious pizzas like spicy stuffed hot pepper, and plenty of patio room. Don’t forget about The Teaser: A huge flight of ten 2 oz. samples for just $10.

Travel 0.51 miles to...
Lafayette Brewing Company
391 Washington Street

Lafayette Brewing Company | Tasting trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Joshua R. Ketry)

The Lafayette dates back to the early 1900s and is known for housing attendees of the Pan Am Exposition. In addition to its rich history, LBC serves their classic beers and a variety of seasonals like the Bull Moose Brown Ale or the Coffee Vanilla Stout — and the brewer is always up for talking to locals about the beers. They have a tiny patio out front along with a courtyard off of a banquet room, plus a “bar-cade” tucked in the back with pool, foosball, pinball, shuffleboard and darts.

Travel 0.31 miles to...
Big Ditch Brewing Company
55 East Huron Street

Big Ditch Brewing Company | Tasting trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Big Ditch Brewing Company)

The seasonal beers here are always super creative: The squeezer, a sour kolsch, features a tart, fresh finish; the cinnamon apple, an amber ale, packs a ton of flavor; and their limited release jalapeno cream ale tastes like liquid nachos. Grab a glass of the low bridge hoppy golden ale or hayburner pale ale and an order of baked pretzels with low bridge cheese sauce while you’re there. You won’t regret it!

Travel 0.79 miles to...
Black Button Tasting Room and Bottle Shop
149 Swan Street

Black Button | Tasting Trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Black Button)

Take a seat in the shade under their awning-covered patio and sample one of their spirit flights ($7-14). Their Bourbon Cream, delicious on its own, is even better in Root Beer or coffee. Black Button sources almost all of its ingredients from New York. They have apple pie moonshine, vodka and gin in unique flavors (lilac, garden and citrus). Keep an eye out for their Double Barrel Bourbon and a Cask Strength Single Barrel Bourbon.

Travel 0.54 miles to...
Lockhouse Distillery & Bar
41 Columbia Street

Lockhouse Distillery | Tasting Trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Lockhouse Distillery & Bar)

Lockhouse offers products year-round, but they’re quickly becoming known for their spring spirit, the Sakura Gin, that lines up with the Cherry Blossom trees blooming in Olmsted Parks. They have a great patio and offer tastings for free (limited to three per person), as well as tours for groups of 10 or more. Lockhouse also has a full service restaurant and bar, so stick around to enjoy some cocktails and food!

Travel 0.48 miles to...
Buffalo RiverWorks
359 Ganson Street

Buffalo Riverworks | Tasting Trails: Buffalo's tasting trail | Discover 2018

(Buffalo Riverworks)

Their giant patio and beer garden gives nearly everyone who wants a seat outside who wants one to savor great food and drinks — plus the motoped bikes, ziplining, rock climbing, concerts and more. You can taste the beers before purchasing one, like seasonal gin and tonic beer with fresh squeezed lime. They have a variety of beers brewed inside the silos with many flavor points…perfect for a large group all craving something different.

Route 3: Day-long experience

Once you’ve finished at RiverWorks, continue on below.

Travel 1.41 miles to...
Lakeward Spirits
The Barrel Fa ctory 65 Vandalia St.

Lakeward Spirits | Tasting Trail: Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover

(Lakeward Spirits)

Stop into Lakeward for vodka, gin, rum, and more! Taste their spirits ($5) or sip a creation off the cocktail menu on the patio. You can’t leave without tasting the only local rum that’s completely made in-house — from the grain process to the bottle. The entire Barrel Factory houses Lakeward Spirits along with Pressure Drop Brewing, Buffalo’s Best Gourmet’s Cucina and Snowy Owl Kombucha.

Travel 0.21 miles to...
Gene McCarthy’s/Old First Ward Brewing Co.
73 Hamburg Street

Gene McCarthy’s boasts a Buffalo trifecta: Rich history, great beer and delicious food, like beer battered portobello fingers with smoked gorgonzola aioli or crispy Thai chili wings. Their Wake the Dead Coffee Stout was created with the neighboring cafe, Undergrounds, to bring out a freshly roasted aroma in the brew. Seasonal beers like Crikrat Kolsch with fruity notes in summer or Rosemary’s Snow Baby with hints of mint and floral rosemary in winter are always a big hit. If you’re having trouble deciding, order a sampler of 5 beers ($10) and enjoy it outside in the beer garden.

The tasting trail

Full Route: 6.1 miles

Tasting trail | Buffalo's homegrown spirits | Discover 2018

Whether you're looking for a quick excursion or an all-day tasting tour, this trail's got you covered, starting with #1, Buffalo Distilling Company and ending with #11, Gene McCarthy's/Old First Ward Brewing Co. The full route is 6.1 miles — perfect for a day-long bike tour; or, take our suggested routes for an abbreviated tour. Quick sips covers three stops in the less than a mile, while the afternoon outing has nine stops in four and half miles.

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