The Buffalo Niagara Brewers Invitational

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A beer festival featuring specialty one-off beers from your favorite local breweries as well as breweries around the globe. 20 speciality brews made by the members of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association and 10 beers from 10 guest breweries. Ticket includes a buffet of old school pub food kicked up a notch. Come and meet the brewers up close and personal and sample some very special beers. Beer list will be announced closer to the event. Very limited tickets. Brought to you by the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association and Pettibones Grille.

TICKETS AVAILABLE at Buffalo Bisons Box Office, Tickets.com all Consumer’s Beverages locations,  Premier Gourmet, Kegworks, and most local breweries.

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Hey, Porter!

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quiet revolution seems to have taken place in the craft beer market. Where once only IPAs could hold the roaming eyes of beer nerds, there is now a thirst for ranges of porters and stouts, especially very high alcohol “imperial” versions that seem to disappear from shelves as quickly as they appear. Some of these dark beauties have achieved such cult followings that the only way to get them is to wait in long lines directly at the brewery or by trade.

But, while stellar examples have become a collective muse on these shores, their poetic value in the brewing history of the British Isles comes more from the 300 year history of the style there than from any swashbuckling Yankee innovation. We spend endless hours tasting porters and stouts and enjoy their many comforting variations. But what is after all, the real difference between a “porter” and “stout?”

The stock answer is that a stout grist is mostly pale malt with some roasted barley; whereas a porter grist uses malted dark malts. This may be current brewing convention. However, brewing historian Ron Pattinson puts it this way on his blog:

“Porter has…come to mean a dark malt liquor, made partly from brown or black malt, the caramel in which gives it the sweetness and syrupy appearance, and containing four or five percent of alcohol. Stout is a stronger porter…containing six or seven percent of alcohol” (Hand-book of Industrial Organic Chemistry, Samuel Philip Sadtler, 1900).

Much more could be written, but let’s go to the actual drinking of plain old porters and stouts, porter with spices or coffee added, London style porter, imperial porters, imperial stouts and more. If you are interested in learning more, have a look at Ron Pattinson’s books or his blog “Shut Up About Barclay Perkins” where you might be surprised to read about the historical existence of “pale stout.” Otherwise, do the best thing and take your taste-buds to the pub nearest you and conduct some research of your own.

Woodcock Brothers Porter (5.9%): Nice chocolate roast with some sweetness – similar to a dry hopped black IPA or an Export India Porter. Required drinking!

Bellwoods Lost River Baltic Porter (8.5%): Roasty with light barrel, dark honey, with some alcohol notes. Similar to Fatheads Baltic Thunder. Very refined and worth a trip to Toronto to pick some up.

NY Beer Project CMS Nitro (Coffee Milk Stout) (On Nitro) (5.8%): Roasted coffee balanced with a perfectly balanced blend of roasted malts and chocolate on solid bed of malty and milk sugar sweetness. Sampled on nitro at the pub – show a great cascading creamy head. Check out NYBP and get a glass for yourself!

Community Beer Works Stout Affective Disorder (5.4%): Malt and milk stouty nose with dried coco powder giving way to slight smoke and roasted malts – pairs perfectly with Shepard’s Pie.

Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout (9%): Potent cherry coffee nose with long lasting bite of hops, sweet dark fruits with a port like profile and a very long hoppy finish. From Ontario – get this.

Southern Tier Brewing Porter (5.8%): Mild nose with notes of caramel and burnt sugar with hints of dark sugar – similar to Fullers London Porter. Try with a Blue Cheese Bacon Burger.

Saranac Chocolate Orange (Baltic Porter with Cacao and Orange Peel) (9%): Nose on this beer hints at big sweetness but is followed through with a pleasant full body and great smooth flavors of orange and chocolate. Similar to Southern Tier Choklat Oranj. Find this and drink it!

Four Mile Chocolate PB Porter (8%): Very dry, with light roast and faint peanut butter flavor which makes this beer very drinkable and strong enough to be a great night cap. Pair with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

12 Gates Brewing Coffee Porter (5.1%): Dark sugary coffee nose with strong coffee flavor, body, and finish. Pair with biscotti.

Four Mile Brewing Stout (7.7%): This beer tends to the imperial side; finishes bitter with notes of persimmon. Almost chewy. Very nice; similar to Founders Stout. Pair with curry samosa.

Big Ditch Brewing Vanilla Oatmeal Stout (6.8%): The aroma on this is like that encountered when unwrapping a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. Creamy mouthfeel with a sweet finish. Similar to Left Hand. Try with chicken pot pie.

Ellicottville Brewing Company Chocolate Cherry Bomb (8.2%): Lots of vanilla, malted milk flavors with some earthy elements. Something to savor at the EBC after a day on the slopes. Pair with salted caramel chocolate. A winter treat!

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Beers of Winter

 

By: Brian Campbell and Willard Brooks

Winter beer is often mixed up with that of cold weather and Christmas beer.  Christmas beers are actually a cocktail of European holiday influences that result in beers with fruit, beers with fruit and spices, fresh hop or malt beers, or winter warmers to address the lower temperatures of the winter months.

The tree is now at the curb; your last bottle of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is empty. The spiced beers and fa la la is now 12 months out into the future. It’s actually winter now in Western New York when you look out the window, with piles of snow on the ground and plenty of lake effect in the air. Aside from many long dark nights between now and spring, impossible New Year’s Resolutions (some of which you’ve probably broken by now) and the threat of the arrival of tax season, what’s a beer drinker supposed to do? Jimmy Griffin suggested that we stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game.

Well, football aside that is exactly what we recommend. And here are a few choices to wet your whistle and fill your glass as you cozy up under your favorite blanket, in your favorite armchair, in front of a cozy little fire, or, save that, a fireplace video on Youtube or Netflix.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout (10.50% ABV): One of the true heavy hitters on this list at nearly 11%, Ten Fidy is viscous, almost chewy, pouring jet black like motor oil with chocolate, caramel and roasted coffee throughout. It’s a sipper to sure, one that gets better with warmth, best paired with a good cigar, recliner and a roaring fire.

Southern Tier Back Burner Imperial Barleywine (10.5% ABV): Last brewed in 2012, Southern Tier’s Back Burner Imperial Barleywine has returned, now in 12oz. bottles in addition to the more traditional 22oz. bombers. Warm caramel, dried fruit, brown sugar and raisins, as well as blackstrap molasses and maple syrup from a farm directly across the road from the brewery, all come to play in this beer, one that needs to be on your radar sooner rather than later.

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (6% ABV): Brewed in tribute to the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank during a Lake Superior storm in 1975, and its fallen crew of 29, the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is light for its given style at only 6%, though the hallmarks of traditional porters persist – chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and roasty malt. It’s thin but it’s drinkable, and, if you’re the adventurous type, you can pair Edmund Fitz perfectly with oysters.

Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Rouge (8% ABV): Kasteel Rouge is a blend of Kasteel Donker and cherry liquor making for a much softer beer in nature, something akin to melted cherry cordials. It’s boozy with light sour notes, sweet but not cloying, which manages to hide its ABV some. Kasteel Rouge is a perfect candidate for cellaring, though it’s easy to enjoy it just as much under a blanket while watching a movie.

Founders All Day IPA (4.7%): Perhaps a beer has never been more aptly titled because it is easy to literally drink Founders All Day IPA, well, all day long. With a balanced combination of citrus varietals and light floral hops, this is as easy drinking as IPA’s come, a wonderful companion for après-ski thirst quenchers.

Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose (4.5%): Though a gose, or gose-style ale, is a better fit for warmed weather, Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez Gose is both refreshing and light, with prickly pear cactus and grapefruit. Coriander and salt follow some subtle tartness as well. This one is worthy of your next session.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale (8.70% ABV): Toasted malts, bread, leather, nuts, pine and dark fruit. Great Divide’s Hibernation, an English-style Old Ale, finishes clean. If you’re the type to enjoy a cold one while shoveling your driveway, Hibernation is a beer that could help warm your bones.

Nogne O Winter Ale (8.5% ABV): This is one of the creamier winter ales around, thanks to an abundance of bittersweet cocoa, roasted coffee beans and milk chocolate. Licorice, coffee and dark chocolate do most of the work taste-wise. O Winter isn’t overtly boozy, though it will warm you up in a pinch.

Jack’s Abby Lashes Lager (6.8% ABV): Lasher Lager is piney and resinous with floral and spice notes. There are big malts and juicy hops and even though it’s a tad complex, Lashes Lager is easy to drink. And if you’re wondering, no, Lashes Lager isn’t a clever name as this beer is actually named after Jack Abby’s head brewer Mike Gleason, aka Lashes. Seek this one out.

Anchor Brewing Winter Wheat (7% ABV): No Anchor’s Winter Wheat isn’t merely a wheat beer; it’s actually a winter warmer brewed with five different varieties of wheat. Toasted malts, figs, raisins, vanilla, brown sugar; Winter Wheat is smooth for 7%, but not boozy. Drink it by the pint.

Purchase these beers and many more at all area Consumers Beverage’s locations (see www.consumersbeverages.com), Premier Gourmet (www.premiergourmet.com) and Aurora Brew Works (www.facebook.com/aurorabrewworks).

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2015: The Year In Beer

The word BEER made from hop cones

By: Brian Campbell

2015 has come and gone, and for beer fans it was one hell of a year. Breweries around the area concocted many delicious adult libations for our drinking pleasure and there were no shortage of events to enjoy said concoctions. Not only did 2015 mark the second year for the Farm To Pint Fete and Buffalo Brewers Festival, there was also the sixth annual Buffalo Beer Week, the annual 10-day celebration of all things local beer related.

If you missed out on any of these events (shame on you, you should know better), there is always this year, as 2016 will not only see the return of the Buffalo Brewers Fest to Canalside, Farm to Pint to Hamburg Brewing Company and the seventh annual Buffalo Beer Week across the Buffalo-Niagara region, the new year will also feature the debut of plenty of beer-centric events certain to become staples of the scene, including Springfest, where local and guest breweries from around the globe present rare and one-off beers (April 2, Pettibones Grill) and the Canadian-American Beer Festival, a two-day cross border beer festival in Niagara Falls, USA and Niagara Falls, Canada (October 28, 29), not to mention the Winter Blues & Brews Weekend in Ellicottville, NY, which is right around the corner and will feature local WNY breweries doing tap events at village pubs (January 22-24). Full details can be found at www.buffaloniagarabrewersassociation.org.

Above all else however, it’s the people who brewed all of this beer that made 2015 such a memorable year, and we were lucky enough to see our craft beer scene expand time and time (and time) again, six times to be exact, throughout the year (see also Four Mile Brewing, 202 E Greene St, Olean), bringing the total number of breweries and cideries to approximately 20. Not only did Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing (8398 West Main Road, Westfield) expand their facilities to brew beer and become New York’s first winery, distillery and brewery hybrid and Rusty Nickel Brewing Co. (4350 Seneca St.) opened their taproom in West Seneca, 42 North Brewing Company (25 Main St.) brought East Aurora its first craft brewery.

Anchored by their incredibly sessionable Walloon Wit and decadent Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, 42 North, which gets its name from residing on the 42nd north parallel of the Earth, features a warm and embracing taproom draped in dark wood reclaimed from a barn fire in Holland, NY and lighter wood and bricks from the Richardson-Olmsted Complex in Buffalo, NY. Combine that with pinball, shuffleboard and bubble hockey and you have a welcome addition to the local beer scene.

New York Beer Project, a new 17,000 square foot gastropub, taproom and brewery located alongside Tonawanda Creek (6933 S. Transit Rd.) in Lockport, also opened its doors to the public. Though the brewery won’t be officially pouring their own beer until January 20 (they are currently serving fresh pints of plenty of local brews including Woodcock Brothers, Resurgence, Flying Bison, Community Beer Works, and Big Ditch), which will include “Lockport Lager,” a traditional pilsner at 4.5 ABV, “Destination,” a west coast style IPA, “Train of Thought,” a hoppy amber, “Buckleberry Wheat,” an American fruit wheat beer, and “CMS,” a coffee milk stout that will be offered as a nitro pour, the industrial, turn-of-the-century themed taproom is already a destination. And if that isn’t enough to look forward to with NYBP, lead brewer Jared Lewinski has said that they plan to brew sour ales with plans to serve them with their house-made flavored syrups to balance some of the tartness. So, come for the beer and stay for the views of the creek. And beer.

Last, but certainly not least, the launch of 12 Gates Brewing Company (80 Earhart Drive, Williamsville) happened just last month. With a strong focus on crafting quality hop-forward, West Coast-style, brews,  head brewer Shawn Kerr and company have already unleashed such IPA entries as their West Coast IPA and Under the Southern Cross IPA, with more to come in the future for sure. The taproom plays host to exposed wooden beams and raw wooden fixtures, and the entrance to the building was designed to look like the gates of a medieval city in England. While the taps will serve mainly 12 Gates beers, there are also plans for a cider tap, and, continuing their work with Glen Edith Coffee Roasters, the taproom will serve cold-pressed coffee on their nitro tap. So in case you were wondering, yes, this taproom is worthy of a visit.

All in all, 2015 was certainly one hell of a year, a true year for beer indeed, a true banner year. This craft beer scene of ours grew a little bit bigger and it seems that with so much on the horizon for the coming year, it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. So let’s sit back, raise a pint and enjoy it, shall we?

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Beer Review: Resurgence Brewing Company/Cider Creek All the King’s Men Smoked Cider Saison

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Resurgence Brewing Company/Cider Creek All the King’s Men Smoked Cider Saison

ABV: 7%

‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again,’ and so the old nursery rhyme goes, though clearly they were not referring to this All the King’s Men, which is part local craft beer, part local craft cider from the collective minds of Resurgence Brewing Company and Cider Creek Hard Cider. All the King’s Men, a smoked cider saison, is a truly unique offering as our area’s first collaborative cider ale. This apple fritter-esque brew is made with smoked apples, cinnamon, 100% New York State fermented cider, saison yeast, malted barley, wheat, and hops. It pours a golden amber before strong apple overtones take hold. All the King’s Men is light, crisp, sweet, at times tart, remaining refreshing throughout – just like an apple. All the King’s Men manages to find a pleasant balance between the worlds of cider and beer, one that is better to be drank than simply read about. This exclusive brew is available in both bottles (if you can manage to get your hands on one that is) and possibly on draft in the future (a little birdie tells me that there is a barrel of this aging somewhere on the grounds of Resurgence). When is a beer not a beer? Or should that be when is a cider not a cider? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

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‘Tis The Season – To Eat, Drink and Be Merry

By Brian Campbell

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The holiday season provides the perfect chance to eat, drink and be merry. And whether you’re shopping for yourself, your friends or that someone special, beer makes for the perfect gift. Though beer is a relatively easy gift to purchase, there’s something so personal about it, and it’s a gift that feels just as good to give as it does to get. And sharing it with your friends and family isn’t half bad either.

From Winter Warmers, Stouts and Holiday Ales to Spiced Ales, Winter Ales and Porters, there are plenty of unique beer styles to spend some time with during this time of year. These styles offer plenty of hearty flavors to combat the cold winter weather—roasted malts and barley, chocolate, toasted marshmallow, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, licorice and star anise to name a few. Whether you’re wrapping presents, roasting chestnuts on an open fire or hanging your stockings on the chimney with care, there really isn’t a bad time to imbibe one of these delicious styles of the season.

To make your life a little bit easier, here are seven ready-made options that will make you the hit of your holiday bottle exchange and basically the overall MVP of Christmas:       

Great Lakes Brewing Company Blackout Stout (Russian Imperial Stout, 9% ABV): Bitter chocolate, licorice and roasted malts dominate the nose before an immediate warming sensation comes along with the first sip thanks to its 9.0 ABV. Named for an infamous 2003 blackout that left 55 million people without power, this creamy and hefty Russian Imperial Stout, which pours an intense black, features chocolate, subtle coffee and star anise notes as well as licorice and big flavorful roasted malts.

Saranac Holiday Ale (Spiced Winter Ale, 6.2% ABV): Led by a bouquet of holiday spices, such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, this holiday ale is an easy drinker, one that’s probably better suited for the novice Christmas/Holiday/Spice Ale drinkers out there, someone that’s just getting their feet wet in the style. There’s subtle dark fruit with faint touches of dates and fig. The 32oz growler-style bottle also makes for a nice presentation and a nice gift idea—one you don’t even have to wrap.

Troegs Mad Elf (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 11% ABV): A staple of holiday drinking, gift giving and/or bottles exchanges. Toasted malt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, earthy yeast and subtle boozy aromas mingle on the nose, while cherry, honey and caramel follow through on the palette. If you’re planning on cracking a few of these this season, be warned—Troegs Mad Elf drinks dangerously smooth for 11 percent, so remain wary of how many you’ve had.

Southern Tier Choklat (Chocolate Imperial Stout, 10% ABV): Caramel, cocoa powder, sweet Belgian chocolate, toasted marshmallow, vanilla, faint coffee—Southern Tier Choklat is all of these things. A massive malt chocolate nose leads to a thick and creamy mouthfeel of semi-bitter chocolate. It has boozy tendencies and a strong malt character throughout.   

Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout (Milk/Sweet Stout, 5%): As the lightest beer you’ll find on this list, Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout smells hauntingly delicious, akin to that of Whoppers candy. It pours black as night with a rich, frothy head. Chocolate milk, nuts, chocolate malt, cocoa powder, dark roasted coffee and sugars play throughout. This beer could easily be described as liquid Whoppers.

Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale (Anchor Christmas Ale)(Winter Warmer, 5.5% ABV): Another staple when it comes to holiday drinking. Due to the fact that the bottle label and the beer recipe vary year to year, Anchor Christmas Ale is a must-have year in and year out. The 2015 version features big spices, vanilla and dark cherry at the outset, which is followed by figs, dates, dark fruits (prunes, raisins) and molasses. Available in six-packs or the much more gift-friendly 50.7 ounce or 1.5 liter (yes, you read that correctly), magnum bottle.

Resurgence Brewing Company Festivus Belgian Winter Ale (Biere de Noel, 6.7% ABV): Better known as Bier de Noel, this Belgian Dark Strong Ale is brewed in the kettle for 7 hours and is loaded with toasted malts, white chocolate, bourbon and coffee, which comes from Jingle Bell Java beans, made by the Mystic Monk Coffee Company in Wyoming (yes, coffee made by actual Trappist monks). This beer is a conversation starter and can b2e had by the growler or the crowler at the brewery.

You can purchase these beers and many more at:

You can also grab any last minute drinking accessories, homebrew equipment and barware at

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Roll Out The Barrels – Barrel-aged beer comes on strong in Buffalo

by Erik Wollschlager

As Buffalo beer continues to grow and make its mark in the craft brewing industry, local
brewers are hard at work expanding their creative portfolios. Whether they are trying their hand at sour beers, experimental hops, or innovative additives, the ever-churning minds behind Buffalo’s beers are regularly cranking out new and interesting brews. Several local brewers have begun to barrel-age some of their finest standard beers, and the results are fantastic.

Using barrels as a container to store and transport beer is a method as old as time. While most brewers would seal the barrels they used, coating the inside of the barrel with ‘brewer’s pitch,’ Belgians have been using barrels to enhance the characteristics of their brews, relying on an additional yeast that resided in the wood to impart a specialized flavor profile. Brettanomyces, or Brett, to use the parlance of our times, ferments in a similar fashion as other yeasts more commonly used in brewing, but is less limited in its ability to consume sugar—even those sugars that live on the inside of a barrel. Brett has made quite an impact in the American craft brew market in recent years, but the use of Brett in European sours is an age-old tradition.

Brewers like Russian River and Captain Lawrence have been using Brett to help ferment their beers for over a decade. The Russian River website explains brewer and owner, Vinnie Cilurzo’s love of Brett. According to the site, he was most interested in garnering the souring yeast from local wine barrels, and the reason was simple. “If used properly with care, it can add rich aromas and flavors of earthiness, leather, smoke, barnyard, and our favorite descriptor —wet dog in a phone booth.” Likewise, Scott Vaccaro, founder of Captain Lawrence, states that when he looks for a barrel, he’s looking for, “Something clean, but something funky—a fresh barrel with all of the little critters that make a beer great.”

The mastermind behind Community Beer Works’ concoctions, Rudy Watkins, is on a similar journey when he barrel-ages a beer. “For funky beers I’m looking for the wood to impart some delicate tannin and wood character, but again, stay in the background rather than be the star of the show. We’ve had a Flemish Red aging in a red wine barrel for about a year. It’s nearly ready, with a solid tartness coming from Pediococcus and Lactobacillus and really nice funk from a blend of Brettanomyces. The tannins really compliment the tart funkiness of this beer and cut through a bit of the malt character.

Dave Collins of Resurgence Brewing also has a Flemish Red aging in red wine barrels—one each of Pinot Noir and Merlot. Resurgence had a cask of something similar, but much younger at Ballpark Brewbash, but Dave says, “It wasn’t ready. It had aged three, maybe four months. It’s super weird now…which is good.

Nestled deep in the southtowns, Five and 20 Spirits and Brewing is the complete package, which puts them at an advantage in the barrel aging game. While Dave Collins admitted last week that they had just received a shipment of barrels, Jimmy Walsh of Five and 20 just heads out to the storehouse to grab one. A division of Mazza Wineries, Walsh has access to some of the Mazza family’s finest barrels, and he’s putting them to good use. “We are aging our Wheat Ale in brettanomyces inoculated red wine barrels which we hope to tart sour fruit flavors from the “Brett” and light wood flavors from the barrel,” Jimmy says. On a recent visit to the barrelhouse at Five and 20, we all gazed in wonder at the dozens of barrels stacked floor to ceiling. “The building is temperature controlled, but we also allow for some fluctuation,” Walsh told us, “When the air heats, the wood in the barrel expands, opening more pores and allowing for more contact. When it cools again, the pores close up, pushing the exposed liquid back into the barrel, and exposing the rest of the beer to everything it had collected.”

Sour beers are certainly gaining popularity locally, but they are notably less pervasive than their counterparts, which are aged in barrels that had previously contained spirits. Most common, of course, is the bourbon barrel aged beer. Just weeks ago, Buffalo experienced a different sort of Black Friday, when Goose Island released their Bourbon County Stout, which is an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. Lines wrapped around buildings as Buffalo consumers excitedly anticipated the release, and most shops even limited the number of bottles purchased per person! Buffalo loves a good bourbon barrel aged beer, and so local brewers are well prepared to meet the demand.

Last week saw the release of Resurgence’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Sponge Candy Stout. Not only is it the longest name in Buffalo brewing, but it is a great marriage of the subtle flavors that make a great bourbon with the sweet, malty characteristics of the Sponge Candy Stout. Often, a bourbon barrel aged beer can taste like a shot dropped into a beer, but this version was smooth, with some oak, caramel, and light whiskey, but lacked the burn that similar beers have. This release is their second barrel aged beer, their first was a Belgian aged in gin barrels. “There were so many aromatics. Very botanical, and then the wood, and a little vanilla. It was very cool,” Collins said.

Sometimes, barrel aging can be used to enhance certain flavors that already exist in a beer. Such is the case with another beer that Five and 20 is aging, as Walsh tells Artvoice, “We also have our Rye Pale Ale aging in our Rye Whiskey barrels, we hope to get deep wood flavor and the flavor of the Whiskey from aging.” Enhancing the existing rye flavor in the pale ale could produce a spicy, smooth beer. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Watkins is always working on something amazing, and his barrel aged dark beers are no different. “I’m always hoping to coax a new, third character out of two (or more) separate inputs. For non-wild beers, my tastes lean towards those where the vanillin and tannins from the wood are at the forefront rather than an overwhelming spirit character,” he says. “I think Firestone Walker typically does an amazing job with their barrel aged beers. They’re sometimes heavy in alcohol, but always well rounded with vanilla, caramel and honey notes. We currently have a bourbon barrel filled with our Adambier. I’m hoping to get some caramel, vanilla and marshmallow/toffee character out of that. Time will tell.”

The best part about barrel aging, though, is that it is easily done by even a novice homebrewer, after a little research. Scott Vaccaro had one piece of parting advice for selecting a barrel. “If it smells right, do it. A brewer’s nose is his best tool. You’ll definitely know if there is something wrong with the barrel.”

Beyond mad rushes at bottle shops and rare Brett bottles available only in small shacks in Michigan via generous Dutch uncles, Buffalo brewers are hard at work making their indelible mark on the industry. The city is already in love with the breweries’ standard offerings, so as the brewers evolve and create new versions of their standards, Buffalo learns a little more about beer. An educated consumer is a better consumer, indeed, and these variations are the best kind of lesson—draughted fresh from the barrel and shared with friends.

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Coming Out of The Gate – 12 Gates Brewery Opens

by Erik Wollschlager

The perpetual growth of the Buffalo brewing industry has ballooned to the point where brewers are setting up shop outside of the city limits. This year has seen the opening of breweries in West Seneca and East Aurora, with even more planned in for the future. As we rest on the cusp of the solstice holidays, another brewery is days away from opening its Williamsville gates.

Hidden deep in the winding offroads of the Buffalo suburb, 12 Gates Brewing Company is as fantastical as the name implies. A callback to an alchemy text that is over 400 years old, 12 Gates hopes to turn grains into gold—in more way than one. Tonawanda native Rob Haag, along with head brewer Shawn Kerr and assistant brewer Kevin Long have embarked on a quest to bring Buffalo and its citizens exactly what they desire—quality craft beer.

Kerr’s background in biology and chemistry serve as a perfect base with which to build a brewing empire, and while their investors are varied in their professions—with careers in sales, manufacturing, real estate, and the like—Haag and Kerr began their trek toward the kingdom of Buffalo brewing as humble home brewers. Perfecting recipes on a small scale is precisely what led Kerr to 12 Gates. “I didn’t know it when I interviewed, but the owners were looking for someone who shared their vision in recipe formulation. I’m from Southern California, so I grew up with very hop-forward beers, like those brewed at Green Flash and Stone.” Their flagship IPA, Southern Cross, will feature a heavy dose of New Zealand hops, as well as a balanced amount of Citra.

In addition to Southern Cross, Kerr has conceived of 12 Gates White, which will appeal to beer drinkers who are looking for a little less hop in their beer. The beer resembles a Belgian wit, but does not incorporate wheat into the recipe at all. The addition of rye adds a spice to the coriander and citrus that most beer drinkers will enjoy. Kerr will also be showing off his dark side, brewing a chocolate milk stout, as well as a porter. The porter will be chocolatey and sweet, and will be perfect for a limited edition Espresso Porter, brewed in collaboration with Rochester’s Glen Edith Coffee Roasters. Kerr, who has a relationship with Glen Edith, hand-picked the beans himself. “Well, he didn’t fly to Colombia and harvest the beans,” Haag joked.

“I’ve had a lot of experience with roasting beans,” Kerr explained, “so I wanted to demonstrate that knowledge with this beer.” The Espresso Porter offers the usual smoke and toffee of a traditional American Porter, but the baker’s chocolate bitterness of the malt and coffee.

The taproom will be set up so the visitor will enjoy a more communal experience, with long tables set up in parallel. There will be a limited menu of sandwiches and appetizers, all selected to pair with the beer offerings. Haag admits, almost ashamedly, that there will be a television above the bar, “Mainly for Bills and Sabres games.” Otherwise, the TV will be covered by two slate panels which will list the food and beer options.

The concept of the taphouse is straight out of a fantasy novel, with exposed wooden beams, raw wooden fixtures and a stone wall that will feature the type of sedimentary rock commonly found in Western New York, such as sandstone. The entrance to the building has been designed to look like the gates of a medieval city in England. The taps will serve mainly 12 Gates beers, with the possibility of a guest tap or two. They will also feature a cider tap, and continuing their work with Glen Edith Coffee Roasters, the taproom will serve cold-pressed coffee on their nitro tap, which will allow for a half-and-half of a whole different nature.

Kerr and Haag have been working around the clock to form their fantastical concept into reality. “It’s all kind of a fog,” says Haag from behind his temporary workstation. “I’ve been brewing with a headlamp,” laughs Kerr, holding the strap up for viewing. The weary gentlemen are about to harvest the fruits of their labor, though, when the brewery holds its special 12/12 release party. Craft brew bars throughout the city and its surrounding areas will join 12 Gates in celebrating the tapping of its first kegs, with each bar featuring at least one of 12 Gates’ specialty brews. You can find 12 Gates beer on 12/12 at Pizza Plant, Blue Monk, Good bar, Santora’s (Transit), Santora’s (Millersport), Brickyard (Lewiston), Griffon Pub (Niagara Falls), Public House, Ebenezer Ale House, WOB Galleria, Moor Pat, and Aurora Brew Works.

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Circle of Life — Farm-to-Beer-to-Farm-to-Table

by Michael Chelus

CBW-tmeadow-charcuterie-3

How Grain-Farmers, Maltsters, and Brewers Supply WNY Farms & Restaurants

The much heralded Farm-to-table movement has been bringing locally grown produce and livestock directly to local diners in Western New York for many years. Another movement—or cycle—that delivers the same increased quality in production and involves local farms, restaurants and breweries, has not received the same popularity. In the last few years, several local breweries have been giving their spent grains from brewing to a notable local farm that supplies local restaurants. Talented local chefs then use these products in their cooking and produce dishes that not only taste great, but pair incredibly well with the beer that was made with the spent grain that started the cycle.

In exploring this cycle more deeply, we start with the local breweries. Community Beer Works (CBW), Resurgence Brewing Company (RBC) and Big Ditch Brewing Company (BDBC) all give their spent grains to T-Meadow Farm, a Lockport farm that raises antibiotic free heritage breed pigs. The breweries are able to rid themselves of a product that would be wasted otherwise and put it to a good use. T-Meadow Farm gets a product that allows it to
produce a better kind of animal that suits the needs of local restaurants and chefs while allowing the animals to be raised in a healthy and humane way.

The spent grains are very beneficial for T-Meadow pigs according to owner, Rich Tilyou. The spent grain is “high in protein, and has a little sugar left in it for quick energy. It also has vitamin B,” said Tilyou. This allows his pigs to gain a “nice, firm fat” which is very desirable for chefs and diners.
Once they attain the proper weight and fat content, T-Meadow pigs are sold to local
restaurants where they are used both respectfully and skillfully. A long time patron and advocate for T-Meadow Farm is Steven Gedra, chef and co-owner of The Black Sheep. Chef Gedra has made a name for himself—both at The Black Sheep and at his former restaurant, Bistro Europa—by using T-Meadow pigs in countless preparations and employing nose to tail cooking that has won him the hearts and stomachs of Western New Yorkers. From the Burro di Chianti made from lard from T-Meadow pigs that accompanies the breads made by his wife, chef and co-owner, Ellen Gedra, to a smoked T-Meadow pork chop that has appeared on The Black Sheep’s menu on several occasions, Chef Gedra’s menu is frequently filled with T-Meadow pork.
Another use for T-Meadow pork that Chef Gedra has locally championed is charcuterie or pork that is cured by salting and drying. Chef Gedra’s charcuterie board has changed throughout the years but is held together by one constant—T-Meadow pork. The current version has meat cured in both the French and Italian traditions and features Capicolla, Lonza and Rillettes. The Capicolla salted and cured for two months. Lonza made from the pork loin displays the work of the spent grain. Both would pair well with That IPA from CBW or Hayburner IPA from BDBC. The Rillettes, prepared like pâte was redolent with pork fat and stock and carried the aromatic flavors of thyme and garlic. This rich paste would pair well with Imperial Red IPA from RBC or The Whale Brown Ale from CBW. The effervescence, malts and hops in the varying styles of beer made with these grains each bring something different to the pairing. It’s not a coincidence that they naturally pair with these dishes and do so wonderfully.

Diners can enjoy equally delicious dishes made from T-Meadow pork prepared by Chef Jeffrey Cooke, Jr., executive chef and co-owner of Osteria 166. Chef Cooke is also quite accomplished with charcuterie and other dishes that are made better by the use of T-Meadow pork. For his charcuterie, Chef Cooke offers Spalla, a cured meat made from the fore shoulder of a T-Meadow pig. Cured for over a year, it has developed a wonderful red color and a deep pork flavor that pairs well with local beers with hop content, like CBW’s Frank American Pale Ale or RBC’s IPA. Chef Cooke’s Culatello is a wonderful homage to its cousin made in Italy which some covet more than Prosciutto di Parma. Its salinity and sweet pork flavor would be a natural pair with Low Bridge Hoppy Golden Ale from BDBC. Another dish in which Chef Cooke uses T-Meadow pork is in his Bolognese sauce. His version, made mostly from T-Meadow pork, was balanced and rich—the perfect accompaniment for properly cooked pasta. When paired with a darker beer like a brown ale, the deep caramelization obtained with the T-Meadow pork is highlighted.

The life cycle from spent grain to charcuterie that pairs well with local beer is as viable as farm-to-table cooking. It’s a process where everyone wins from the brewers to the restaurants to the diner. It’s just one more way to support and celebrate all that Western New York has to offer.

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NEW YORK BEER PROJECT – huge new brewery for Lockport

by Scott Russell

Poised aside Tonawanda Creek on Transit Road just north of the county line is a colossal two story brick new build that seemingly leapt from the pages of a gothic comic. The 17,000 square foot gastropub, taproom and brewery is home to New York Beer Project, western New York’s latest entrant to the ever growing local craft brewing scene. A faux-weathered welcome message painted on the façade promises “Good times, Good Beer, Good Friends” to the many well-wishers waiting in queue to welcome the opening of Lockport’s first brewery since prohibition. The doors opened last Thursday (11/19), as the giant color cycling neon clock over the front entrance struck five o’clock.

Once inside it became clear that the space was deftly designed and every detail filling it had been well thought through for form and function. The overall feel is industrial rustic steampunk, with warmly colored floors and walls beautifully lit with Edison style bulbs and accented with the occasional greenery. Tables and chairs are crafted of richly finished wood supported by wrought iron bases. I managed to grab one of the few remaining seats at the large main bar and took in my surroundings with a cold pint. With brewery operations not yet in full swing, NYBP is serving up local beers from the likes of Woodcock Brothers, Resurgence, Flying Bison, Community Beer Works, and Big Ditch.

The cavernous main room features a large and well-appointed U-shaped bar surrounded by café seating and an outer ring of dining tables and booths. A large chandelier modeled after those illuminating Grand Central Terminal hovers over the bar as a striking visual centerpiece.

I grabbed my beer and made my way through a short hallway to find the brewery taproom with a lengthy bar, café seating, tables with benches, and an overhead door that will open to a patio on nicer days. Just beyond the bar is the shiny and squeaky clean 5,000 square foot brewery featuring a 15 barrel brewhouse, a 3.5 barrel pilot brewhouse, and a range of fermenters which promise to deliver tasty brews early next year. Here I found lead brewers Jared Lewinski and Jason Crossett, both Brewmaster graduates of Niagara College, with Jared having plied the trade at Silversmith in Niagara, Modern Times in San Diego, and Weyerbacher in Easton, Pennsylvania. Jared and Jason showed me around as we talked about NYBP’s offerings. The flagship five will include “Lockport Lager,” a traditional pilsener at 4.5 ABV, “Destination,” a west coast style IPA, “Train of Thought,” a hoppy amber, “Buckleberry Wheat,” an American fruit wheat beer, and “CMS,” a coffee milk stout that will be offered as a nitro pour.

“We also plan to brew seasonals, specialty one-offs and we’re especially excited to be talking to other breweries about doing some collaborative brews” explained Crossett.

Lewinski then added, “We’ll also be barreling sour ales that will be traditionally served with our house-made flavored syrups to balance the tartness.”

I asked Lewinski about plans for an all local farm-to-pint beer. “Absolutely, we’d love to brew an F2P and are already working with local producers of hops and specialty malt like Climbing Bines and Niagara Malt.”

The brewmasters then introduced me to owners Kevin and Kelly Krupski, who seemed remarkably calm for a packed restaurant on opening night. “Our staff really came together well and are all doing a great job,” said Kevin Krupski.

They showed me around the expansive upper level spaces which are configurable for banquets, private functions or general use when not needed for brewery operations. Kelly Krupski spoke passionately about how the “project” was not just a brewery, but a family friendly, community centric business that proudly supports many local businesses. We stepped out to the upper deck overlooking Tonawanda Creek and doubling as a roof for the patio below, where they point out where they plan live music and gardens by the creek. It’s not hard to imagine how lively it will be next Spring and Summer.

I returned to the taproom and looked over their menu, presented as loose pages on a clipboard. I see New York City features prominently here as well with styles and names that evoke the Big Apple: Sullivan Street pulled pork, Bronx Bombers sliders, and Soho Tacos. Each of these are ten bucks or less and come three up on the plate as sharable dishes, or “food to fight over” as their menu suggests. Modestly priced rotisserie chicken, burgers, pizza, mac and cheese, and a good mix of other items are also available.

I enjoyed my “Port Authority” pizza and another pint, both delicious, while contemplating my next visit.

New York Beer Project is located at 6933 South Transit Rd., Lockport and online at nybeerproject.com

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