For the next month or so, the weather will remain downright chilly and summer warmth seems light years away. Even though it’s cold out, many of us can’t help ourselves and need to get out of the house, keep active and more importantly, stay warm. Here’s an idea. Why not warm yourself up with a pint of locally brewed beer or a shot of homemade spirits? Erie is home to several distilleries and microbreweries just waiting to introduce you to their newest creations. We decided to reach out to our local brewers and distillers, see what they’ve been up to and ask them three simple questions:
- What is your best seller?
- What makes your establishment special?
- Fun extras we should know about?
Their responses are below and from what they’ve told us, we can’t wait to sample them all! With a designated driver, of course. For details on hours of operation, curbside, delivery, pick-up options, please visit the distillery/brewery of your choice. Links are posted in each listing.
All of the below mentioned VisitErie partner businesses are following strict COVID-19 safety and cleaning protocols. Remember, as always, to practice social distancing and wear your mask to keep you and others safe.
Let the Spirits Move You!
“Liquor may not solve your problems, but it’s worth a shot!” A distillery traditionally makes hard alcohol such as whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, etc. The process of making distilled spirits starts off much of the same as making beer. You start by combining some basic ingredients such as grains, yeast & water. ... With the help of the yeast and enzymes the sugar is converted into alcohol. Our three local distilleries have definitely mastered this technique.
Erie Distillery – From David Harkness, Owner: We started out with three products: vodka, limoncello, and apple pie moonshine, Now we have a total of 11 including coffee liqueur, gin, hot pepper moonshine (WHAT?!), spiced rum, white rum, 14 year aged whiskey at 90 proof and our signature whiskey at 102 proof coconut rum. We use Distillery grade charcoal to filter our spirits after distillation. This process eliminates any remaining impurities, so as we say 'it's where the hangover is a thing of the past'. Our bottles have the Niagara on it as well as our logo because we are all about Erie. As the master Distiller says, quality is our top goal or we don't put the Erie name on it. Erie Distillery Vodka took a gold medal in NYC in December 2020, and our diamond gin is currently in a competition there as well. Next project is tequila! Bottle sales are keeping us going as our customers enjoy our top shelf spirits at lowest possible cost…satisfied customers are our only job security.
Luminary Distilling & Eatery, Fuhrman’s Cider – From Joel Normand, Co-Owner: Luminary is a micro-distillery featuring tasting room and specialty cocktail bar. Their locally produced spirits include vodka, whiskey, gin, and liqueurs. Bottle sales and merchandise available.
What is your best-selling spirit? Apple Pie Moonshine, made with our freshly pressed in-house apple cider.
What makes your establishment special? All products made in-house, wide variety of over 13 unique spirits, unique atmosphere.
Fun Extras we should know about? New products regularly coming up on the shelf. There’s a new member of the Luminary lineup, Lighthouse Reserve Brandy! We aged wine from our friends at Arundel Cellars for 32 months in new charred oak barrels. Stop in and grab your bottles, as we have a limited amount of 750 ml at 46% ABV.
Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing – From Vanessa Mazza, Creative Director:
What is your best-selling spirit and/or brew? Our best-selling spirit is our Rye Whiskey (Five & 20 Rye Whiskey has been named a "Best Buy" by Wine Enthusiast), and our best selling beer is our Stout (though our Grape Lakes seems to be collecting quite the following).
What makes your establishment special? We are New York State (and this area's) first combination winery, distillery, and brewery. Guests can come taste and enjoy our line of wines, beers, and spirits all at one location. We are also a farm distillery and farm brewery, which comes along with its own set of guidelines as to where we source our ingredients for our spirits and beers. We also happen to be situated on 80 acres of farmland, some of which is used to grow ingredients used in our own spirits and beers. Also onsite is the TimberFish commercial pilot system, where the byproducts from our brewery/distillery are sustainably treated and recycled to create a food chain to grow fish and other seafood.
Fun extras we should know about? Five & 20 Spirits has begun releasing new products in our "Whiskey Expressions" series beginning at the end of 2019 and continuing through this year and beyond. Currently available is our Five & 20 Rye Whiskey Finished in Sherry Casks, and scheduled to be released in the next year are a "Déjà Vu Rye Whiskey" and "Déjà Vu Bourbon," aged in beer casks shared by some of our barrel aged beers. Check out our ever-evolving "Shape Shifter IPA" series - with a new IPA released seasonally. Our Shape Shifter Ruby Moon is set to be released February 18th! Pint Nights, Spirit Nights, and our Sunday Sesh series are all scheduled to start back up (following all safety guidelines) in Spring, but in the meantime guests can enjoy beer and spirit specials every Friday evening at our "Customer Appreciation Nights." We're open 7 days a week and currently have extended hours on Fridays & Saturdays.
What’s Brew with You?
A craft brewery or microbrewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer, typically less than large breweries, and is often independently owned. Such breweries are generally perceived and marketed as having an emphasis on enthusiasm, new flavors, and varied brewing techniques. Our area is “lager than life” with many microbreweries scattered throughout Erie County; each offering their own distinct take on beer, plus they give them really funky fun names! So let’s “HOP” to it and check them out!
The Lake Erie Ale Trail: We can’t talk about local brewers without mentioning the highly successful effort of the Lake Erie Ale Trail. Nestled near the shores of Lake Erie, the Lake Erie Ale Trail boasts 15 breweries, each with their own unique story. The history of breweries in the greater Erie region is deep and rich. The first local brewery opened its doors over 200 years ago—36 years before the city of Erie was even incorporated. Over 90 breweries would open from that time up until 1920 when Prohibition came into effect. Visit the Lake Erie Ale Trail’s website to read more about Erie’s history of beer. NOTE: Member breweries are open for carry-out and dine-in operations. Some offer delivery and contactless pick-up too. Each member brewery operates under different hours so we suggest checking ahead of time.
Arundel Cellars & Brewing – From Lauri Boettcher, Co-Owner:
What is your best selling brew? Our best-selling brew is Small Craft Advisory, a delicious beer a little on the lighter side but still with a wonderful flavor profile.
What makes your establishment special? We are a brewery, a cidery, a winery and we serve meals. Arundel is a renovated barn that was originally built in the late 1800's, complete with exposed hand hewn wooden beams and a stone wall which is also original. We have a fireplace that warms the body and a friendly staff, house crafted beverages and inviting atmosphere that warms the soul.
Black Monk Brewery – From Tom Morris, Owner:
What is your best-selling brew? The Belginator is our number one seller.
What makes your establishment special? We have a large selection of our Belgian style of beers and other European and American beers on tap. We offer slushies and local spirits and wine for the non-beer drinkers.
Fun extras we should know about? Check out our large outdoor European beer garden. We are the only brewery to allow dogs inside. We always have new beers on tap and various specials. Just follow us on Facebook!
The Brewerie at Union Station – From Chris Sirianni, Owner:
What is your best-selling brew? Depends on the time of year... Seasonals are always the most popular but always rotating. We have 6 staple beers (Uncle Jackson Blonde, Apparition Amber, Raiway Weizen, Hopness Monster, Major McNair's Brown Ale and Silk Bomb Milk Stout) available year-round with an additional 8 on tap that constantly rotate. Those are the movers!
What makes your establishment special? We are located in a Historic Landmark which happens to be a hundred year old Haunted Train Station.
Fun extras we should know about? The Brewerie is of the few breweries in the entire tri-state with a full service restaurant & bar offering in house dining as well as full take out. Daily family-sized carryout features as well throughout the pandemic. Watch out! Beginning in March these additional tasty beers will be available: Girl Stout Cookie" Chocolate Mint Stout, Mocha Cream Porter and Mandarin Grapefruit IPA.
Erie Ale Works – From Jeff McCullor, Co-Owner: Steve Anthony and Jeff McCullor own and operate this microbrewery steps away from the heart of downtown Erie crafting unique beer suitable for any palate. Food trucks and jokes are common. Stop in for a pint, flight, crowler or growler.
What is your best-selling brew? Our top seller is Tattooed Lady - a 4.6% blonde ale. We affectionately refer to it as "beer-flavored beer". It's clean and dry, something you can retreat to when you're tired of hoppy and hazy, or super malty beers. We package this in 16oz. cans and have it available on draft.
What makes your establishment special? A few things set us apart. Our space is pretty unique, we opted for a very clean and industrial-type space when we remodeled the brewery. We replaced the front facade with windows and a glass overhead door to allow in as much natural light as possible. The other thing is our staff, we feel we've hired some of the best people in town to work with us. They're really knowledgeable about the product they're pouring, and enjoy having a laugh with every customer we see.
Fun Extras we should know? Erie Ale Works delivers! We now ship beer across PA by the 12-pack or case, as well as local delivery within 10 miles of our shop.
Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing – See information under Spirits
John Russel Brewing Company - The owners of U Pick 6 Pubs & Restaurants have decided to start brewing! With their love of craft beer, the art of brewing has now become a part of the U Pick 6 family! The new brewery is located at 7520 Peach Street and features a new wood-fired brick oven & the same menu as their other locations. U Pick 6 Beer Store has transformed into John Russell Brewing Company Brew House & Restaurant! Newly crafted beers on tap include Pursue Your Hoppiness NWPA IPA, Me & Julio Mexican Lager, Red Rory of the Hills Irish Red Ale, The Other Guy Session IPA, Blood Orange Sky Belgian Tripel, Wheat Elect German Weissbier, Chuck the Night Watchman Irish Style Stout and Wee Heavy 22 Aged Scotch Ale. For a complete description of these beers, click here.
Lavery Brewing Company – From Jason Lavery, Owner:
What is your best-selling brew? Dulachan IPA is by far our best seller. It remains about 35% of all the beer we brew. It was first brewed in 2012 and has remained 'Erie's IPA' since then.
What makes your establishment special? We have tied our brewery to downtown Erie. We make lots of lots of beer and sell only in Erie County. So we force people who want to try our beer to come to Erie to get it. We are like a post card in a bottle.
Fun extras we should know about? We are getting a new canning line in March that will change how we package beer. We also bought the space the brewery has been renting thus ensuring we will be in downtown Erie for years to come.
Nostrovia Brewing Company – Located on the East side of Erie on Route 5/The Seaway Trail-America’s Byway, Nostrovia Brewing Co takes pride in making beer you can drink when you’re thirsty. You’ll get beer brewed by hand, from hand-made tanks, poured by hand. With a casual and unique atmosphere, you’re invited to have your next pint and lively conversation with them! Word on the street is their smooth oatmeal stout is a crowd favorite. However if that’s not to your liking, Nostrovia offers a wide selection of other flavors including blueberry wheat, espresso coffee stout, murder hornet 2X IPA, apricot wheat, NEW Imperial Brown Maple Ale and NEW Here Gose Nothin’ (Sour). They even have a blackberry apple hard cider that’s definitely worth a swig!
Twisted Elk Brewery – Our newest VisitErie partner, can be found in Lake City PA along historic Route 5 (Seaway Trail). You can enjoy their beers inside or outside, bottles, crowlers and growlers to go plus they released a specialty crafted food menu to pair nicely with their beers. From Brad Nuce, Owner:
What is your best-selling beer? Our best sellers change when we bring in new trees but if we had to pick one, it would be the Apple Pie Ale.
What makes your establishment special? We offer a wide variety beer but our specialty are fresh fruit beers, we use real fruit and source it locally as much as we can.
Fun Extras we should know? We feature our Elk burger and we just released our first hazy IPA called the Ale-N-Vasion brewed with 8 different hop varieties.
Voodoo Brewery – From Matteo Rachocki, CEO Voodoo Brewing Company, LLC:
What is your best-selling brew? In our taprooms it is the BEST OF ERIE award winning Voodoo Love Child – a 9.3%ABV Fruited Belgian-style Triple aged on Michigan Sour Cherries, Oregon Raspberries and Passion fruit. Our best seller for distribution its Good Vibes – a 7.3%ABV west-coast style IPA hopped with Mosaic, Galaxy, Apollo and Mosaic hops.
What makes your establishment special? Voodoo Brewing has been around for over 16 years and is proudly employee-owned in Meadville, PA! Much more than a brewing company; however, we have a central kitchen that ships our amazing food to all 6 Voodoo owned taprooms and three franchised locations! We have one of the highest-trained and skilled brewing teams in the industry and are constantly innovating with some of the industry’s most cutting-edge and experimental products and ingredients leading to unprecedented quality.
Fun extras we should know about? We are recognized as ‘Top 50 Brewery in the World’ by Draft Magazine (twice) as well as a Great American Beer Festival (GABF) award winner and have arguably one of the most highly sought-after beers ever created; ManBearPig! We are graciously invited to the world’s best peer-organized beer festivals all over the globe and ourselves host one of the leading festivals in the area; Good Vibes Beer Fest.