In the middle of Jamestown, NY is a craft beer known as The Beer Snob owned by a man named Marty Schwab. The Beer Snob isn’t your ordinary craft beer bar. In fact, I’d refer to it as a ‘gem’ of a craft beer establishment.
On the outside, The Beer Snob has all the workings of a craft beer mecca: a great tap list full of local and nation hype breweries, a rotating menu of amazing foods, and an owner driven to create the ultimate craft beer experience.
However, when we sat down with Marty to talk more about his business, we uncovered a story much deeper than that. Did you know that a Rogue Dead Guy Ale started this journey to craft beer mecca?
Did you also know, if it weren’t for Henry Ford (yes, THAT Henry Ford), The Beer Snob may not have existed, and we may not have needed to the write this blog post?
Ok, ok, I know – less teasing and more explaining. Let’s dive in.
Meet Jamestown, NY
When you think of the small town of Jamestown, NY, you likely don’t think of craft beer. That’s because the Western New York town known for birthing Lucille Ball, and for being geographically located near Lake Chautauqua, isn’t known as a craft beer destination.
While Jamestown, NY isn’t known for craft beer, it should be noted that the town is no stranger to craft beer. Neighboring Lakewood, NY has been home to Southern Tier Brewing Co. since 2002. It’s just… that’s not Jamestown.
Recently though, Jamestown Brewing Co. opened its doors in downtown Jamestown. It’s just… they’ve been met with a series of legal and financial difficulties.
While Jamestown does have a few smaller and respectable craft beer establishments that we noted, until recently, it just didn’t have a craft beer destination.
One man has been on a mission to change that… and succeeding.
Meet Mary Schwab
Marty Schwab is a restaurateur who grew up just outside of Jamestown, NY in nearby Falconer, NY. Falconer, a town of only 2,420, is known more for it’s manufacturing plants than its handful of bars and restaurants. (I know this personally because a relative of mine works at said manufacturing plant).
So, how does a guy go from a small town with very little craft beer to pioneering a craft beer destination a few miles down the street? Well, it all started with a Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
At the age of 18, Marty moved away from Falconer and started a journey that took him all over the United States. In fact, to date he’s lived in areas such as Seattle, Tampa and Denver.
In the early 2000s, while living in Seattle, Marty tried that Rogue Dead Guy Ale and his life changed forever.
“I tried that beer and thought it was the most amazing things I had ever put in my mouth.” Marty explained. From there, Marty’s passion for music, and his entrepreneurial spirit took over.
Marty went on to found a live music venue in Florida, and infused his love of craft in to the tap list their. In 2006, while running the music venue, Marty famously told his Anheuser-Busch reps, “Bring me craft or bring me nothing.”
Eventually, Marty would come back north to found the Crooked Eye, a live music/craft beer venue in Erie, PA.
But then he sold the Crooked Eye
After an opportunity came up to sell the Crooked Eye, Marty moved away from the bar business and back to his other passion: music.
Post-Crooked Eye Marty jumped back in to the music industry and started working as a tour manager for music acts. While his attention was focused on the stage, he couldn’t help but notice a “renaissance” that was happening in Downtown Jamestown, NY.
“I thought to myself, it would be really cool to be a part of this.” Schwab said.
Marty didn’t have to look far to find the perfect building to join in the renaissance. Catching Marty’s eye was the 36,000 sq ft building Viking Temple in downtown Jamestown. The building, once home to the Jamestown Vikings, a Scandanavian fraternal society, features multiple stories and an incredible 1,500-person capacity ballroom on the top floor. Marty admits, the building caught his eye for something other than craft beer.
“When the opportunity to buy the building presented itself, I originally purchased it for the 1,500-person capacity. My goal was, and still is, to bring Slayer to Jamestown.” Marty laughed as he explained.
Without Henry Ford, the Viking Temple building wouldn’t exist
In 1912, a similar organization to the Vikings, known as the Eagles, began constructing this building on Washington St in downtown Jamestown, NY.
Legend has it that before completion of the building, the Eagles ran out of money and couldn’t finish it off. That’s when Henry Ford, the automobile pioneer stepped in and personally contacted the Mayor of Jamestown to arrange the construction of a dealership at this location.
From cars to beers, the Viking Temple shines again
To this day, pictures of that old Ford dealership hang on the walls at The Beer Snob, a new, local craft beer bar and restaurant in Jamestown owned by Marty Schwab.
Featuring 36 draft beer taps and multiple can and bottle options to go, The Beer Snob is quickly becoming the craft beer destination In Jamestown, NY and beyond.
It’s a craft beer lovers mecca, but don’t let the name fool you: there’s no ‘uppidiness’ (is that a word?) here. In fact, Marty states the mission of the beer snob is “to take the ‘uppidity’ out of the craft beer world.”
“We want to expose people to new things, whether it’s beer or food.” Marty continued.
Don’t expect to find new liquors at The Beer Snob; The establishment is focused on craft beer, wine, cider and hard kombucha drinks.
Marty admits that the idea was originally to only sell craft beer however, he eventually added a stage and some other improvements, and it’s involved into what it is today. One of these improvements was the incredible menu he tells us his chef put together.
The Beer Snob doesn’t disappoint on the food
Nothing compliments a high-quality beer list like a high-quality food menu. The Beer Snob’s menu boasts a mixture of sandwiches, salads, sharable charcuterie boards, tater tots, pretzels and, their most popular item: taco flights.
“We’ll actually pair a flight of tacos with a flight of beers. It’s become really popular.” Marty explained.
Aside from the tacos, another menu standout would be their 24-unce barvarian pretzels that look like they could feed an entire army. Right now, they offer six flavors of pretzels including a pizza pretzel, a peanut butter and jelly pretzel and a reuben pretzel.
Marty admits that his food menu changes around 3 to 4 times a year, so you’ll want to keep up with their website for their latest offerings.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19, The Beer Snob is not currently offering food, only takeout beer.
The Future Looks Bright For The Beer Snob.. And Jamestown
Right now, things look a little different at The Beer Snob. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns and ‘large gathering’ closures, all food sales are suspended. As of the writing of this article, The Beer Snob is focused on takeout beer sales (cans, crowlers, growlers).
“Overnight we had to change our business model.” Marty told us. “It’s going to be tough, but we’ll get through it.”
Unfortunately, takeout is the new norm for restaurants, breweries and craft beer bars all over the country. Though they may be confined as to HOW they can sell beer, Marty certainly isn’t allowing anyone to define WHAT kind of beers he sells. If anything, you can say Marty, like a true entrepreneur, has used this time to doubledown on his beer offerings.
In the wake of COVID-19, Marty recently announced a partnership with the highly-sought after Other Half Brewing based in Brooklyn, NY. As a result of this partnership, Marty is able to offer their beers for sales in establishment.
Other new brands added to his tap rotation recently include Equilibirum Brewing and Hudson Valley, both of which are as sought after as Other Half.
When passion and entrepreneurial spirit collide, amazing things can happen. That’s truly evident with Marty Schwab and The Beer Snob. If you haven’t tried the Beer Snob yet, we’d highly recommend it.
We hope to see you there sometime… drinking a pint and eating a taco flight before a Slayer concert.