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Craft Brewing Sweeping Cattaraugus County

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Taste Your Way Thru Local Cider, Wine and Beer 

By Eva Potter

There is an energetic movement underway and it promises to yield some interesting and tasty products.

Bet you never thought of Cattaraugus County as a hub of brewing and distilling, but it won’t be long before visitors flock here to travel around the circuit sampling the variety of craft brews, wines and spirits.

As a matter of fact, the award-winning Winery of Ellicottville, at 14 Monroe St. in the village, is hosting a vertical wine tasting this Saturday, March 14, at 6 p.m., where you can sample and learn about four vintages of their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll try wines from 2011, 2012, 2013 and the yet-unreleased 2014, as well as a likely sneak peek sample from barrels that are still aging. Complementary foods, such as cheeses, bread and olives, will accompany the tasting. Tickets for this event are $20. Space is limited. Please call (716) 699-1055 for reservations.

Recently, the Winery of Ellicottville partnered with Ellicottville Brewing Company to create its first batch of Excelsior Sparkling Apple Wine. Made from New York State apples, this is really more of a cider, offering a light, dry character with a refreshingly crisp taste.

“This is our first attempt at a cider and we are more than happy with the results. Customers are really giving us some good feedback and it is selling quickly,” Sam Sheehy, co-owner of the winery, said. “We are already planning the next batch and maybe even one with a little residual sugar for those who prefer sweet cider.

While cider making is still in its infancy, sales have been climbing sharply with the resurgence of regional cider makers across the country. According to Nielsen’s tracking of off-premise sales, cider is outpacing beer, craft beer, wine and spirit sales by a wide margin, seeing 89 percent growth from 2012 to 2013 to stunning sales of more than $280 million.

You’ll find more information about the winery at www.wineryofellicottville.com.

If finely crafted brews are more your thing, then you can stay right here in Ellicottville and sample from a huge menu of locally made beer at Ellicottville Brewing Company. This industrial-chic brewery in the heart of the village has been brewing beer since 1995 and focuses its talents on large and small batch beers. With many beers always on tap and new releases virtually every month of the year, there is always a new flavor to try. Visit www.ellicottvillebrewing.com for more information.

Four Mile Brewing

For an authentic experience, you’ll soon be able to experience craft beer tasting at Four Mile Brewing’s location in a former pre-prohibition brewery in Olean.

“Our building is the old bottling plant for the Olean Brewing Company,” said Four Mile Brewing partner Gregg Piechota. “We purchased the old bar that was in Dina’s when they were remodeling, which fits perfectly and looks like it was made for the space.”

During the brewery’s soft opening planned for some time in April, you can stop in to sample from their taps as they hone their staple beers using their new brewing system. Pub-style food, but nothing fried, will be on the menu.

Piechota said, “We will have a few different sandwiches that change with the seasons, baked pretzels with different styles of beer cheese, soups and salads. We will also have some guest food vendors from time to time out in the beer garden.”

For more information, you can find Four Mile Brewing on Facebook.

Along with the brewing craze, distilleries are also popping up around western New York, and Hinsdale’s Little Chicago Distilleries is chomping at the bit to get their operation rolling. This distillery, located at 3421 Route 1 North in Olean, is the brainchild of Andrew Bennett, Shawn Torrey and Jason Williams. They, along with Randy Hall, are partners in this venture. They are currently waiting for their Class D distillery license before starting the liquor production process, as well as work on their tasting room and bar.

As a micro distillery, Little Chicago Distilleries won’t be licensed to create large batches of liquor, but their small batches of vodka and white whiskey will surely satisfy the taste buds of even the most finicky connoisseur. You can find Little Chicago Distilleries on Facebook.

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