Mar 25, 2018
BATAVIA — After years of waiting, on Saturday afternoon the ribbon was cut at the Eli Fish Brewing Company, officially opening the brewery.
The idea was conceived in 2013 as a small brewery, but the concept grew over the years. Jon Mager came up with the idea and Matthew Gray, one of the brewery’s owners, said Mager was a fan of the Eli Fish story. Fish — for whom the brewery is named — operated Fish’s Malt House, a brewery on the corner of Elm and Main streets in the 1800s. The brewery, which reportedly had the capacity to produce 16,000 barrels of beer annually in 1883, burned down many times during Fish’s ownership, with Fish rebuilding it each time at the same location.
The first commercial brewery in Batavia in nearly 100 years, Eli Fish Brewing Company revealed the first two of its in-house brewed beers: a honey IPA and a blonde ale. The vision is for the brewery’s 20 taps to feature 10 beers brewed in-house and 10 rotating beers from around the state. Along with New York beers, the bar will also pour craft cocktails and fine wines, all sourced from New York wineries and distilleries.
With Gray and Matthew Boyd, another partner in the brewery, owning Alex’s Place in Batavia, Gray said they’ve been working with the staff of Alex’s Place to create the menu for The Eli Fish Brewing Company. The menu includes entrees such as shrimp and grits and beer-braised pork shank. While it is difficult at the moment, once the warm weather comes and farmers begin planting, Gray says they plan on working with farmers for locally sourced food.
The former JJ Newberry building was bought in September 2015 and since its soft opening earlier this month, Eli Fish Brewing Company has been regularly packed by excited patrons. On Saturday, it was no different as patrons swarmed the brewery for the grand opening. The brewery owners gave thanks and received congratulations during the ribbon cutting, with Assemblyman Steve Hawley giving them an official citation from the New York State Assembly.
“We’re excited to share this space with the City of Batavia,” Gray said. “We feel like it can be a community center where everyone can come and meet friends and family.”
The brewery is also the cornerstone of a $2.8 million renovation of the Newberry building into a mixed-use development with a restaurant incubator, known as FreshLAB, joining the brewery on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors. The FreshLAB restaurant incubator features three commercial kitchens, with the brewery operating the largest kitchen. The other two will be occupied by start-up restaurateurs to develop and grow more dining concepts within Genesee County. The vision is to have tenants occupy the turnkey kitchens for a short-term lease of approximately 19-24 months. They would share the food hall dining room, during which time they can focus on unique menu offerings, sourcing local ingredients and honing their operational systems, such as ordering product and paying their bills. Eli Fish Brewing Company is located at 109 Main St. and is open seven days a week: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit elifishbrewing.com.