Meyer Malting/Community Beer Works
15 Lafayette Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Community Beer Works - Official Website  (online Sept. 2017)

Building history:
Built by George J. Meyer Malting Company. (See history below on this page)
In 1953, George Meyer Malt the facility was the largest barley malting operation east of Chicago. The company’s three malt houses would process 100,000 acres-worth of Midwest barley every year. 
Community Beer Works first year of operation:

Left: 15 Lafayette Avenue    ...   Right: Abeca Press, 9 Lafayette Avenue (Website online July 2017)

On the site of the former Meyer Malting Company which had a grain elevator at 1314 Niagara Street.  George Meyer Malt & Grain was the dean of Buffalo malting houses. In the 1950s it was the largest maltster east of Chicago, surpassing even the redoubtable Perot Malting operations located on the Buffalo River. (source)

Brick diamond pattern one of many popular  around the turn of the 20th century

Tasting room


Community Beer Works To Continue Buffalo’s Local Brewing Tradition

By  Sarah Maurer
Buffalo Rising November 8, 2010 (online July 2017)

The city of Buffalo has a longstanding tradition of brewing craft beer.  Business partners Ethan Cox and David Foster hope to become a part of that tradition when they open their very own nanobrewery called Community Beer Works.

Cox, who is a teacher at D’Youville College, has been homebrewing since college and has always had an interest in doing “something beery.”  After pondering several ideas, from pubs to breweries, he finally decided to take one of them and make it a reality.  He brought Foster, a close friend since fifth grade, on as his partner and together they have been working at coordinating, planning and developing this nanobrewery.  Cox and Foster also have seven others working alongside them, varying in roles from investors to homebrewers.

They have made quite a bit of progress since they began seriously considering this endeavor in July.  One of the greatest challenges thus far has been securing the location for their brewery. 

Cox and Foster have been working with the city extensively, getting support from the local community and that of Councilmember David Rivera. They were recently approved for a variance by the City of Buffalo’s Zoning Board.  By the end of November they hope to be moved into their business’ new home at 13/15 Lafayette Avenue near Niagara Street.

The short-term goal for Community Beer Works is to start off producing about 210 barrels within their first year.  They will focus mainly on the quintessential American Pale Ale, as well as some specialty brews. 

The partners have several ideas for ways to forge bonds between the business and the locals.  “I have this vision of cultivating a group of backyard hop-growers,” said Cox.  They would teach locals to how to grow hops, and then once a year they would produce a harvest “urban estate” beer made with Buffalo’s own homegrown hops.  Estate beers, by definition, feature hops that are grown on-site at the brewery.  With an “urban estate” beer, the hops would come from this network of urban hop-growers.

They have also reached out to representatives of the Massachusetts Avenue Project to coordinate a plan to recycle the spent grains from the brewing process.  MAP, which is located a mere five blocks from the brewery, can turn these grains into a food source for the 250,000 worms they use in the aquaponic system in which they raise tilapia.

Meyer Malting Grain Elevator
(Schaefer Brewing Grain Elevator)
1314 Niagara Street

Nomination online September 2017

The Meyer Malting Complex lies close to the Erie Canal and is the only twentieth-century Buffalo facility located near this waterway. The building permit was issued in May of 1913. The elevator provides an early example of the work of H. R. Wait of the Monarch Engineering Company.

George Meyer Malt & Grain was the dean of Buffalo malting houses. In the1950s it was the largest maltster east of Chicago, surpassing even the redoubtable Perot Malting operations located on the Buffalo River. The company began at th eend of the nineteenth-century. It was founded by George J. Meyer who had learned his trade working with another Buffalo company, Curtiss Malting Company.

As with Perot Malting, Meyer Malting was far from the Midwest barley fields but very near the eastern markets. George J. Meyer, the founder, established what would become a huge operation in 1909 on Buffalo's far west side. The land for the malting operation ran north to south along Niagara Street on the east side and the Niagara River on the west. Although the river was still navigable at this point, along Buffalo's upper west side, the real attraction to Meyer was the New York Central's main line that ran down the center of the site, coming out of Toronto and connecting with Detroit. The projected malthouse could be served by rail bringing in raw barley and shipping out finished malt. The river provided the bonus of barge traffic to do the same.

Over the next three decades, the plant expanded on a regular basis so that, by the early 1950s, the property covered two city blocks north and south and two blocks east and west, spanning the New York Central track and reaching the Niagara River. The company had three malt houses, a substantial elevating facility, and numerous subsidiary operations including the flour mill, a laboratory, and support buildings.

Meyer made a huge addition to its malting operations in 1954 when it purchased the forty-year-old Spencer Kellogg linseed oil elevating and mill site. It was especially critical at this time since the western half of the Niagara Street plant was to be demolished by the New York State Thruway Authority. Furthermore, the Kellogg site gave both Meyer plants access to the Great Lakes shipping which could reduce the overall cost of barley.

... in December of 1960, Meyer Malting operations were sold.

Meyer Malting also sold the southeastern portion of its operation to the Catholic church.

The next December, Schaefer Brewing purchased both the original Niagara Street malting plant and the Spencer Kellogg plant that Meyer had operated for just over seven years. Schaefer had the waterfront facility until1985; it sold the Niagara Street malt house to Stroh Brewery in 1987. Stroh immediately re-sold the plant ...

Today the property is abandoned, up for back taxes, and listed for sale. It is growing increasingly derelict, and its future is uncertain.

Special thanks to Cindy Gorski and Margaret Logan for sharing their research

Photos and their arrangement 2017 Chuck LaChiusa
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