When you enter New York Beer Project in Victor, the first thing you'll notice is the two enormous glass chandeliers suspended from the beer hall's lofty 45-foot ceilings. Look a little more closely and you'll see representations of hops, barley, yeast, and water woven into the metalwork of the staircase that leads to the upper level. The eye-catching decor is all part of NYBP owners Kelly and Kevin Krupski's vision of celebrating New York State beer, served with a side of Big Apple flair.
Located across the street from Eastview Mall, New York Beer Project is the sister location of the popular Lockport brewery of the same name. The massive grey limestone building encompasses a brewery, a tap room, three bars, an indoor beer garden, a rooftop terrace, and an event loft with room for 150 people. The brewery, which held its grand opening on February 14, offers a rotating selection of beers on tap, plus a full gastropub menu of appetizers, soups, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, and seasonal plates.
The Krupskis acknowledge they took a somewhat unconventional route to brewery ownership. Kelly is a former music teacher and Kevin is a certified public accountant. The couple fell in love with brewing culture on a trip to Colorado, where Kelly says they were struck by the inclusiveness of the breweries they visited.
"There were families, there were kids, it was for everyone," she says. The Krupskis wanted to bring that sort of atmosphere to their area, so they hired consultants and began learning all they could about brewing. "The learning curve was straight up," Kevin says.
The original New York Beer Project ("the mothership," as Kelly calls it) opened its doors in Lockport in November 2015. That cavernous, 15,000 square foot space draws inspiration from several sources: From the lively, convivial beer halls popular with German immigrants living in New York City during the late 19th century; from New York State's long brewing history; and from Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal. The brewery even has reproductions of the terminal's distinctive chandeliers.
Kevin says that although the Lockport location on South Transit Road was a little off the beaten path, the business became something of a "destination brewery," attracting beer lovers from all over Western New York and even from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In late 2017, the Krupskis were approached by developer Fred Rainaldi Jr. about opening a sister location in Victor. Rainaldi Brothers, Inc. is the developer behind the High Point project off Route 96 in Victor, as well as other developments such as the Culver Road Armory. Rainaldi thought New York Beer Project would be a great fit at High Point, which already includes retail businesses The North Face and Alex + Ani, plus several new businesses yet to be announced.
As Kelly tells it, she and Kevin were sitting in a Victor restaurant after some last-minute holiday shopping when they got the call from Rainaldi Brothers, asking whether they would consider opening a second NYBP. The proposed location was right across the street from where the Krupskis happened to be sitting. "It was just serendipity," she says.
The Victor New York Beer Project is similar to the Lockport original in terms of its size, scope, and menu, but the two have very different personalities, Kelly says. The Victor brewery's look and feel takes inspiration from the Atlantic Garden, a beer hall that was popular in Manhattan during the late 1800s. The new brewery's palatial scale, gleaming chandeliers, and imposing staircase evoke Gilded Age splendor against a modern backdrop of exposed brick walls and steel beams. The overall effect is grand and yet approachable, ambitious yet down-to-earth.
On a recent Thursday around 5 p.m., New York Beer Project was buzzing with professional types fresh from the office. While we waited for a table in the indoor beer garden, my group ordered beers at the tap room bar. I ordered "The One" New England IPA, a cloudy, citrusy brew with a wonderful yellow-orange color. I also begged a few sips from my drinking companions, sampling the Superfunk Sour (refreshingly fruity, not mouth-puckeringly sour); the Lockport Lager (mild and pleasantly wheaty); the Destination IPA (one of the brewery's flagships, for good reason); and the Cherry Blonde (for the drinker with a sweet tooth). For the time being, all of the beer at New York Beer Project is brewed at the Lockport location. Krupski says the Victor location will brew its first test batch in early March.
When a table became available, my party and I settled ourselves at a long high-top and ordered several appetizers for the table. The place was getting busier by the minute --probably the reason our food took nearly 45 minutes to arrive.
The Brooklyn mozzarella logs, were, true to their name, formidably sized. If you don't want to get scalded by molten cheese, I recommend fork and knife. The Destination Flight consisted not of beer but of sliders, miniature versions of three different burgers on the menu. We paired the burgers with an order of parmesan-truffle fries hot from the fryer, which quickly disappeared down the other end of the table before I could nick more than a couple. But it was the Biergarten Bavarian pretzel that was most popular with our party: a massive, salty masterpiece that arrived with three different dipping sauces. As far as beer pairings go, there's really no beating a classic.