By Viva Lauinger
During the last E-Among Us event on August 12, a group of young professionals got to cool themselves down (and quench their thirst) with a variety of beer samples provided by Ted Hoffman, owner of Buffalo Commons Brewery in Mandan.
Hoffman has been a home brewer since the mid-‘90s and recently took his “hobby” to a larger scale. Before opening Buffalo Commons Brewery, Hoffman spent time learning the ropes of brewing on a big scale during an internship at a brewery in Kansas, and after securing financing (Buffalo Commons is fully funded by Hoffman; no investors are backing the brewery), the first batch of beer was poured in January of 2013.
When asked how he came up with the name for the brewery, Hoffman shared about the “Buffalo Commons” proposal in the late ‘80s by Rutgers’ Professor Frank Popper, and his wife, Deborah, to convert much of America’s prairie outback into public domain for its original residents – the buffalo. Buffalo Commons’ public release party was held in March 2013 at Peacock Alley, who remains one of their biggest supporters and along with other area restaurants, has several of their beers on tap.
The brewery is owned and operated by Hoffman and his wife, but they leave the distributing to the “professionals,” to ensure their beer gets into the hands of consumers from around the state. Buffalo Commons beers are local distributed to many restaurants in the Bismarck-Mandan area through McQuade Distributing, and with the help of additional distributors, such as Beverage Wholesalers, their beers can be savored in areas all around the state, including: Steele, Richardton, LaMoure, Oakes, Minot, Williston, and Dickinson.
While Hoffman told the group he would love to operate the brewery full-time, he still has a day job, but does spend some time every day at the brewery. Buffalo Commons mostly brews ales, with brew day being Sunday, typically an eight hour day. When a full batch is brewed, it typically makes (30) 16 gallon kegs.
Malts they use include: two roll barley, caramel, chocolate and roasted. Hoffman took the young professionals through the entire brewing process, summed up for non-brewers: sort 50 pound grain sacks, fire up the mill and auger, make the wort in the brewhouse, add the hops (bittering agent), transfer to the “hop cone,” hook up hose to the fermenter, cold crash to remove the yeast, get ready for the “bright tank” to make beer bright and bubbly, hold for 4 days, and it’s ready to be enjoyed. While we may have missed a couple steps in there, Hoffman told us, “Give it two weeks, and you’ve got your finished product. In a nutshell, that’s how I make beer,” stated Hoffman.
Buffalo Commons is open to the public on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:30- 8 pm and Saturday afternoons from 1- 5 pm.
Like Buffalo Commons Brewery on Facebook to learn more and see what’s up brewing up ahead for their business.