Ballyhoo: Fine Beer & Spirits

By Dan Giacomini

Published in Partnership with The Public and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of checking out Ballyhoo, a craft cocktail pub nestled on the edges of the First Ward and Cobblestone District at Michigan and South Park Avenues—the site once occupied by the Malamute Tavern.

Ballyhoo’s owner, Tim Stevens, is a Buffalo native who rose to craft cocktail fame in San Diego, where he was named one of the city’s top 20 bartenders by San Diego Magazine. But amid that personal success, he also co-founded the San Diego Bartenders Guild, demonstrating a commitment to “the scene” that helps explain his return to Western New York.

“I’m a boomerang, let’s be honest,” Stevens admitted in a recent interview. He took notice of what he calls the “tidal wave of creativity” fueling our region’s resurging bar and restaurant culture—a movement on which he aims to capitalize, and to which he hopes to contribute.

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.

The intersection at Michigan and South Park feels as if it’s on the precipice of transition. At one end is an extreme close-up of the General Mills factory and surrounding industrial megaliths that tower over our waterfront, a constant reminder of the city’s past. At the other end is the new Buffalo Creek Casino just across the street, and Harborcenter just a half-mile in the distance. It’s an interesting harmony of decay and resurgence—the kind for which Buffalo is becoming increasingly famous.

The bar offers its own off-street parking lot, and a strong Sunday-evening scent of Cheerios that accompanied us to the front door. The façade—not much changed from that of Malamute before it—retains the old-school charm of a union hall from Buffalo’s industrial heyday.

Upon entering, the look and feel inside the cozy bar is at once both new and familiar, both modest and sophisticated, both Buffalo and new to Buffalo. With the entire city celebrating St. Patrick’s Day further uptown along the parade route, my companion and I were able to belly up to the center of the bar for front row seats.

While the bar is famous for its cocktails, my companion and I are beer drinkers. BBallyhoo-1allyhoo doesn’t disappoint. The beer offering is relatively small—12 rotating taps, a handful of cans—but there’s something for everyone: Rolling Rock and PBR at one end of the spectrum, Chillwave Double IPA at the other. The current tap rotation is sprinkled with St. Patty’s-themed brews, and I fell in line with an Irish Red Ale by Hamburg Brewing Co.

I’d heard about Ballyhoo’s sausages before I made the trip. Being very much a “meat and potatoes” guy, I was anxious to see what all the fuss was about, but tempered my excitement by wondering how impressive something as elemental as a sausage could actually be.

I never could’ve imagined the sheer bliss that accompanied biting into these mouth-watering reinventions of the classic ballpark staple. My companion and I split a “TJ Dawg” (chorizo pork and bacon sausage topped with pico, crema, and avocado) and a “Steak House” (seasoned beef sausage topped with cream spinach, garlic, and parmesan). Both were absolutely incredible. Each is basically a hearty, gourmet, housemade sausage topped with deliciously fresh, veggie-based toppings and sauces. Perhaps most impressive is the way in which this generous portion—even ripped in half as my companion and I ate them—stayed self-contained and didn’t make a mess.

There are only five sausages to choose from ($8 each), and I imagine all are incredible. Rounding out the food menu are a few different sides (salad, slaw, pasta and soup, each for $4), and a single dessert option: a homemade ice-cream sandwich. We each had one, and we each loved it.

Although we didn’t try them, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ballyhoo’s “Jam Sessions,” cocktails that substitute English jam in place of bottled syrup ($9 each); and “Carbon-a-Teas,” cocktails mixed with tea syrups ($8 each). If cocktails are your thing and you’ve yet to try these, do yourself a favor.

The market for Ballyhoo’s craft cocktails might not be as robust as that of, say, craft beer—and Stevens, recognizing this, has crafted a drink menu that offers something for everyone. That being said, his unique style is not something he hopes to keep on the shelf.

Indeed, Stevens aims to inspire patrons, to be “imparting knowledge instead of spinning a napkin in front of them and saying, ‘What can I get you?’ When you do that, you’ve surrendered. You have to light them up.”


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Get Your Green On: Five Local Craft Beer Destinations for St. Patty’s

IrishBy Dan Giacomini

Published in Partnership with The Public and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

Few holidays have the power to unite beer enthusiasts like St. Patrick’s Day. From the hop-crazed hipster to the blue-collared Guinness guzzler, celebrators of St. Patty’s come in all shapes and sizes. And while everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s one more common denominator powerful enough to bring everyone together on this day: beer.

Buffalo does St. Patrick’s Day right. (What other city features two separate St. Patrick’s Day parades?) The richness of Irish culture and tradition throughout the region makes this a no-brainer. Buffalo also boasts a wealth of fine craft beer bars, brewpubs and, of course, breweries. These are all part of a broader craft beer movement that is creating its culture and traditi
on on the fly.

What follows is a list of five great places to enjoy a craft beer this St. Patrick’s Day.

Note: This list is not intended to be a “Craziest St. Patty’s Day Parties in Buffalo” roundup (a quick Google search should get you what you need). And there are, of course, dozens of other destinations that are deserving of inclusion here. Rather, this list is intended to showcase the breadth of our region’s offering while providing a little something for everybody – or at least every craft beer enthusiast – whether you’re celebrating in the northtowns, southtowns, or downtown.

  1. Gene McCarthy’s, Hamburg Street, South Buffalo – Gene McCarthy’s is a
    sophisticated craft beer haven disguised as an ancient dive bar, creating a unique experience that is unlike any other in the area. A staple of the Old First Ward since the 1960s, Gene McCarthy’s has – like the First Ward itself – evolved over time to attract new generations of patrons while preserving and celebrating its roots as a rustic neighborhood pub serving South Buffalo’s working class. Combine its distinctively Irish ambience with and an impressive craft beer selection featuring the Old First Ward Brewing Company, and you have the perfect destination for enjoying craft beer on St. Patty’s.
  1. P. Fitzgerald’s, Clark Street, Hamburg – Featuring live Irish music throughout St. Patty’s weekend and Tuesday, J.P. Fitzgerald’s will be a Mecca for St. Patty’s celebration. Named after a two-time Marshall of Buffalo’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Fitzgerald is a first-generation American whose parents hailed from Dingle Bay, Ireland. The menu is eclectic but features Old World favorites like shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage. Indeed, this sports bar is Irish through and through – ownership even organizes an annual trip to Ireland! – but don’t be fooled. The bar offers a well-rounded selection of craft beers, several of which are brewed locally (Resurgence, Hamburg, and Southern Tier are currently on tap).
  1. Griffon Pub, Military Road, Niagara Falls – One of the more upscale options on this list, Griffon Pub is a Niagara Falls gastropub featuring an eclectic Americana menu and a beer list that almost boggles the mind. Griffon boasts over 50 beers on tap and dozens more in bottles. Local, domestic, or imported; porters, pale ales, or Belgians – this place has enough beer to satisfy any taste. To celebrate the feast of St. Patrick, ask for a Smithwick’s, a Conway’s Irish by Great Lakes, or a Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale. (Please note: Reservations are recommended.)
  1. Coles, Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo – The Elmwood Avenue staple, having first opened its doors in 1934, is the oldest location to make this list. Because Coles has such a well-established reputation and identity, its status as one of the most impressive craft beer bars in Buffalo is easy to overlook. But the selection is as vibrant and expansive as the noisy-in-a-good-way vibe inside. Located just a few blocks north of the downtown parade’s terminus on Delaware Avenue and North Streets, Coles is a must for those looking to get their green on in and around the Elmwood Village. Famous (or maybe infamous) for its parties, Coles hosts an annual post-St. Patrick’s Day Parade party featuring lamb stew, soda bread, and other Irish favorites.
  1. West Main St., East Aurora – Few stretches of walkable streetscape anywhere in WNY pack so much craft beer awesomeness into such a compact area as does the burgeoning scene on the west end of Main Street in East Aurora. Start at Aurora Brew Works, the beer bar/retail store combo that lets you enjoy a pint while perusing a truly impressive selection of domestic and international craft beers. Mosey next door to 189 Public House, a rustic concert venue and brewpub that rotates a different 189 brew among a nice selection of craft bottles and taps. Top your night off at the iconic Bar-Bill Tavern where, fittingly, the wall behind the bar is adorned with a “XX Days ‘Til St. Patrick’s Day” sign that is updated every day of the year.

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2015: A Year For Beer (Events)

img_0767By Brian Campbell

Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

2015: A Year For Beer (Events)
By: Brian Campbell

It’s no small secret that there’s no better time to be a fan of craft beer than right now, and 2015 is shaping up to be one for the ages for beerophiles thanks to a heaping slate of events in and around our fair city that seek to shine a spotlight on this adult libation we all know and love.

This year will be anchored by a trio of Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association (BNBA) cornerstone events, beginning Sunday, May 17 with the second annual Farm-To-Pint event, a showcase of the craft beer making supply chain in the region. Several local breweries will brew unique beers using New York State grown hops and malts specifically for the event. The brewers, farmers, and maltsters will be present to share in the tasting and provide information about the process of bringing New York State hops and malts from the farm to the pint glass. The event will be held at Hamburg Brewing.

The second annual Buffalo Brewers Festival, which will again be held at Canalside, will take place Saturday, June 20. The festival will convene the area’s top local & state brewers, farmers and food artisans for a day-long festival that will include craft beer tastings and pairings, live music, food trucks, and much more. The Buffalo Brewers Festival will feature craft brewers and brews from more than 30 New York State breweries and a Meet-the-Brewer tent with brewer-led food/beer pairings as well as educational panels and special tastings. More information available soon at

The sixth annual Buffalo Beer Week will take place September 26 – October 5, a 10-day lineup that features dozens of events including everything from beer tastings at local pubs to ticketed special events and nearly everything in between. This will mark the final time that Buffalo Beer Week will be featured during the fall as it moves to the spring beginning in 2016.

Following a pair of successful member events, including a member’s appreciation happy hour at Resurgence Brewing in January and BrewBus, a brewery crawl, earlier this month, the Buffalo Beer League (the name of BNBA’s enthusiast club) will be holding two more marquee member-only events, a Summer Pub Crawl and a Fall Pub Crawl, later this year. Tickets are available to BBL members only – memberships can be purchased for $40 at Their first ever BrewBus sold out in a matter of days so don’t miss out – buy a membership !

The Artvoice and the BNBA will also be teaming up to co-present four enthusiast events this year, all of which will showcase the BNBA’s Buffalo Beer League enthusiast club along with the best bands and beer that Buffalo has to offer. Unofficially titled ‘Beers, Bands & BBL,’ these one-of-a-kind events will take place April 2 at Resurgence Brewery, on May 14 at the Waiting Room, on June 2 at Mr. Goodbar and September 10 at Big Ditch Brewing.

The Brewers Association will also work to present a number of craft beer dinners throughout the year, which will take place in late April, early July, October and December. More information to come – details will be posted on the BNBA website.

In addition to all the events the BNBA will help to present in 2015, there are also a number of other wonderful events going on in and around our fair city, including Ballpark at the Brewbash VIP Spring Tasting at Pettibone’s ($75, tickets at Consumer’s Beverages) featuring a selection of rare and exclusive beers including cask, bottles and draft and complimentary food, Beerology on April 18 (, a craft beer tasting at Coca Cola Field during a Buffalo Bisons game on May 16th and Brewfest at the Ballpark on September 26 (

If you’re in the market for a good old fashioned craft beer road trip, or brewcation, gas up the car and head off to the Rochester Real Beer Expo on June 13 (, TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Fest, April 25-26 (, Belgium Comes To Cooperstown at Ommegang, August 7-9 (!cooperstown), Real Canadian Craft Beer Fest in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario on November 7 (, Ellicottville Fall Festival on October 10 ( and the Beertavia Craft Beer Festival, Batavia’s first ever craft beer fest, on May 16 (

If you’re willing to venture a bit further, you might not want to miss the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin on August 8 (, Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington, Vermont , July 17-18 (, Cask Days in Toronto in October ( and The Festival 2015 in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 16-17 (

Looking forward to 2016, the BNBA has planned a Winter Buffalo Brewers Festival (Ski Country), a Spring Brewers Festival during Beer Week, the third annual Buffalo Brewers Festival in June and a Fall Brewers Fest at Niagara Falls in November.

Stay tuned for further details on these events as well as to get all of the latest information on the Buffalo craft beer scene.

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Move Over Wine – Cheese & Beer

By Willard Brooks.

Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

Recall that hilarious Monty Python sketch where John Cleese walks into a cheese shop and orders a long list of cheeses only to discover that the shop actually has no cheese? Among the English cheeses he requests are: Red Leicester, Cheshire, Dorset Blue Vinney, Wensleydale, Ilchester, Cheddar, and many more. A dizzying array of cheeses, no? Perhaps not when considering that the British Cheese Board lists over 700 cheeses. Cheese is such a big part of British food culture that a British cheese shop with no cheese would indeed be a joke!

The love the Brits have for cheese seems bested only by beer where they list a jaw dropping 2,000 different brands and many regional styles. Yet, the combination of cheese and beer may appear strange, as that combo seems reserved in the minds of many for wine and cheese. Perhaps, but, on closer examination, the beer and cheese combination makes perfect sense. Farmers grow grasses and grains—cows eat grasses to produce milk that farmers use to make cheese; the same farmer takes the grain from the grasses and makes malt for beer and flour for bread. Given this, doesn’t it seem natural that a farmhouse would make breads, brews, and cheeses? Perhaps wine and cheese is the odd man out!

Now that you are sold on beer and cheese, the next question is how to decide which cheeses pair best with which beers. A few key points are in order. One point is to put delicate with delicate and strong with strong (e.g. put a strong blue cheese with a bold flavored barley wine). Another approach is to work either with complimentary flavors (e.g. a creamy St. Andre with a Belgian Blonde ale) or with contrasting flavors (a simple-tangy California Teleme with a complex-sweet Chimay Blue). The characteristics of cheeses are firmness, complexity from age, and intensity. The features of beers are hop bitterness, carbonation, fruit, spices, malt sweetness, yeast characteristics and, sometimes funk and tartness. Experimentation is encouraged, surprises are welcomed. Try these:

Sierra Nevada Ovila Dubbel & von Trapp Camembert. The camembert goes very well with the yeast notes in the dubbel. Similar flavors.

Freigeist Pimock Hefeweizen & Holland Beemster. The Pimock worked very well with the Beemster.

Hamburg White Corner Wheat & Maplebrook Burrata. The carbonation of the White Corner magnifies the cheese flavor of the burrata very nicely.

Gordon Biersch Märzen & Jasper Hill Clothbound Cheddar. You will find this to be a solid pairing where the floral notes in the cheese contrasts the malts in the beer.

Community Beer Works—That IPA with Maplebrook Smoked Mozzarella. The smoked mozzarella is a perfect choreography of hops and smoke!

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Brimstone Brewing Company Visit

By Willard Brooks
Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

On a briskly cold sunny Presidents Day myself and Clint Perez, marketing director of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association accepted the invitation to visit Rod Daigle, owner and chief priest of suds at Brimstone Brewing Company in Ridgeway, Ontario. As you drive up to Brimstone, located just minutes from downtown Buffalo, the beery new purpose of this former Methodist church is made plain by the presence of brewing equipment sitting in the back of the building. This arrangement makes it immediately evident that a great deal of thought has gone into the conversion experience which this former place of worship has undergone.

The building was purchased a few years ago by architect Jason Pizzicarola. Rod Daigle—a former Canadian customs officer of 23 years—was looking to get into the brewing business. After meeting at a city planning session where Rod presented a brewing concept for the town, they decided to team up and develop the old church into a multi-use facility with Brimstone Brewery, Crave Local restaurant, and Sanctuary Centre for the Arts.

The Brewery

It came to fruition about two years ago when Brimstone opened as a nanobrewery in the basement of the old church.

The size and scale of a nanobrewing operation is not all that much larger than what homebrewers would make on their kitchen stoves. No dark art, brewing. With this system Rod got a chance to hone his recipes and make the transition from hobby to profession. He attended the Siebel Institute to learn more about professional brewing. The beer was good and this success built the foundation for the recent expansion up to a 15 hectoliter system.

The Beer

“Right now, we have three main beers available” Rod explained, “We have our blond pale ale called Enlightenment, which is our easy drinking flagship, we have our cranberry wheat called Cleric Winter Cranberry, and we have our Sinister Minister IPA.”

Clint and I were lavished with samples of these brews, and this is what we thought.

• Enlightenment Pale Ale 5.5%—pours a golden straw color with a prodigious white head which leaves a pleasing lacing behind in the glass. The mild fruity aroma from a British yeast strain is followed by fruity notes on the palate and an interesting element of more modern hop character. A solid drinking beer which would pair with all manner of dishes and most of life’s occasions.

• Cleric Winter Cranberry 5.2% (seasonal)—nice and spritzy with a medium mouth feel. This beer is an ale blended with cranberry and brewed with barley and wheat malts. It has a very distinct up-front tartness and an aroma that presents at first taste as almost a Belgian-style wild beer. After this, the sip evolves into a medley for fruit from the berries, malt complexity, and a touch of lingering hop bitterness at the finish. A very nice winter warmer type beer that would pair very well with white cheddar cheese and walnuts with crackers.

• Sinister Minister IPA 7.5%—a solid west coast style IPA with an excellent carbonation, solid malt backbone, and very enjoyable hop character from generous amounts of Ahtanum and Mosaic hops additions. This beer is in regular rotation at the brewery—though it sells out frequently due to its popularity. A solid resinous IPA with very pleasing citrus notes and a finish strongly reminiscent of grapefruit rind. Would be an excellent accompaniment to some spicy foods such as a grilled chicken burrito with red mole and black beans or a green Thai curry.

The Sanctuary Centre for the Arts & Crave

Local Fresh Restaurant

Chef Matt MacGregor and his wife Laurie own and operate the farm-to-table catering firm “Crave-Local-Fresh” out of the kitchen area adjacent to the Brimstone tap room. Chef Matt works on a weekly basis to ensure that the food menu and the beer line up well each week. Crave-Local-Fresh uses locally-sourced fresh produce when possible (including the incorporation of house brewed beer and spent grain into recipes).

The Sanctuary Centre for the Arts is many things. It is the company that owns the building and gives a home to the catering company and the brewery. It is also a community arts center which has multiple uses as a center for gallery space, weddings, plays, yoga classes, meetings, beer festivals, craft shows, fundraisers, church gatherings, and concerts. Concerts are a specialty as they are well supported by the intimate space (and the bar with Brimstone on tap).

All in all these three inter-related businesses have created an architecturally well executed integration of the arts center and venue upstairs with the brewery, tap room, patio, and restaurant downstairs.

Getting There

Making the very brief trip from Buffalo to Fort Erie is well worth the effort to be repaid in excellent beer, food, and music. More info and opening hours are below.

• Restaurant Hours: Thu & Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat 12-10 pm; Sun 12-6 pm

• Taproom Hours: Thu & Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat 12-10 pm; Sun 12-6 pm

• Taproom Stage: the brewhouse actually gets converted to a small stage for weekend music.

• The Sanctuary Centre: There are frequent concerts, especially on Fridays and

• Address: 209 Ridge Road N Ridgeway, ON L0S 1N0

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History Repeats Itself — Malt Industry Returns to WNY

By Brian Campbell

Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

Not only has the current Buffalo craft beer boom led to the creation of a wide variety of great local beer, it has also led to a resurgence in local malt production, an industry that was once a staple of our city.

Among those leading the local malting renaissance is Queen City Malting, located inside the Barrel Factory in the Old First Ward; Niagara Malt, located at Cambria Vines N’ Bines in Cambria; and New York Craft Malt out of Batavia, run by maltster Ted Hawley, who says he got into malting because he saw a need for locally produced malts and grains.

“I went to a lecture coordinated by Glenda Neff with NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association),” Hawley says. “While there, Glenda mentioned there was a need for malting grains for the craft brewing industry. So I switched gears, researched malt and malting and spent a few weeks at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre in Winnipeg learning everything I could about the art of making malt. I’ve traveled to China, UK, Canada, and all over the United States researching this idea.”

“So far we’ve been selling our malt to brewers and breweries all over the state. We’ve branched out from our base NY Pale Ale malt to include Light Munich, Medium Munich, and Special Roasted malt. There has been a lot of interest in our product and we’re certain that sales will increase as more brewers become aware of what we have to offer.”

With more and more breweries opening on a seemingly daily basis, the need for local malt is more prevalent than ever, a cause Senator Charles Schumer champions as well. He is urging the United States Department of Agriculture to add New York to the list of states where malt barley farmers are covered by federal crop insurance, which he believes will be done by year’s end.

“I think it’s a huge positive step,” Hawley adds. “The odds are stacked against any grains growing in our region due to our climate to begin with and malting barley requires a higher degree of attention anyway. If we truly take malting barley seriously then we need to offer farmers the same governmental insurance that’s offered on the other grains they grow. However, I think the insurance needs to go beyond that to include the very real scenario of a bumper crop of barley that may be pre-germinated on the stalk, or has a high vomatoxin level and is otherwise not suitable for malting. In other words, the farmer needs some insurance against the fact that his barley may be turned away at the malthouse door even though it looks and feels and smells like a viable crop.”

The Farm Brewing Law, put in to effect in 2013, states that, in order to receive a Farm Brewery license in New York State, beer must be made from a percentage of locally grown farm products. Until the end of 2018, at least 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in NYS, a number which rises to 60 percent from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2023 and 90 percent after January 1, 2024.

“When brewers use local malt they’re saying they believe in their hometown, that they have a vested interest in the success of everyone involved in this industry, from the farmer to the maltster to the brewer, to the brewery owner to the beer drinker,” Hawley continues. “That’s the most important part—when a brewer uses local malt what he’s really saying is that he believes in the customer. There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that 20 percent local ingredients is too much for brewers to source. I’d respectfully disagree.”

John Russo, president of Hamburg Brewing Company, a licensed farm brewery, says NYS could be headed for a change in the law in the future.

“Right now it is hard to say if it is too much or too little,” he says. “There are two things happening concurrently. One of them is promoting the growth of the New York state beverage industry and the second is trying to grow the farming industry. I personally believe the numbers set in place by our legislators were good to start as it will take a considerable amount of time to build the associated farm industry to the point where competitive pricing and quality ingredients meet the expectations of the brewers and distillers. Thus, I believe there might be a change in the laws in the future to accommodate the direction our industry is headed in. It is important to use locally sourced ingredients to grow business in our region.”

Dave Collins, brewmaster at Resurgence Brewing, says that they are making a concerted effort to incorporate more locally grown malts and barley into their beer.

“We’re slowly mixing New York grown barley into all of our recipes, and we just released a beer that was made with only NY malt [NY Craft Malt] and NY Nugget hops [High Bines Hopyard] called the NY Nugget Smash [“single malt, single hop],” Collins says. “I think the new laws around Farm Brewery licensing are maybe too aggressive, but if we can get to a place where we can rely more heavily on our own NY grain and don’t need to worry about all the other concerns as much it would be a really great thing.”

Staying local is important to also fledgling upstart Big Ditch Brewing Company, according to President Matt Kahn, who says localized ingredients will play a major role in future test batches.

“I’d much rather use locally malted barley than others all things being equal; besides supporting other local businesses, it’s environmentally friendlier due to reduced transportation costs,” he says. “We feel strongly connected to Buffalo. It’s all part of making Western New York a great beer destination. We plan to conduct further test batches using local ingredients and hope to use as much as we can as we grow.”

Local malts and hops will be on display later this year at Farm-To-Pint, a one-of-a-kind beer tasting event created by the Supply Chain Committee of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association to help raise awareness all across the supply chain for the importance of local in out beer. Last year our two farm breweries, Hamburg Brewing and Old First Ward Brewing, along with Flying Bison Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch, Resurgence, and Community Beer Works. This year’s event is expected to include several more breweries and become much more of a regional event aimed at raising awareness for local beer by also encouraging local bars to put these beers on tap during farm to pint week. Stay tuned to for more information (likely will take place in late May).

For more information about your local maltsters, visit, and Also check out local hops farms such as Niagara Malt, McCollum Orchards, East Prairie Hops, High Bines Hopyard. And Wrobel Farms.

Last but not least, get into your local pubs and brewery tap rooms to taste new brews made from local ingredients. Currently or coming soon these local breweries will offer brews from local ingredients:

• Community Beer Works: Saison #2

• Flying Bison Brewing Co: Barnstormer Pale Ale

• Hamburg Brewing Co: House Dressing

• Old First Ward Brewing Co: Therapy Session Pale Ale (coming soon)

• Resurgence Brewing Co: NY Nugget Smash

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Brewers & Bruisers at Buffalo River Works

By Erik Wollschlager

Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

It is no secret that the city of Buffalo’s recent expansion is tied to its growing craft brew industry. This growth requires two things—people to brew it and people to drink it. Thankfully for all of us, there are plenty of both. These two ingredients come together in an amazing location for a wonderful Bermuda Triangle of awesomeness at the rapidly developing Buffalo RiverWorks. On Friday, February 6th, the Queen City Rollergirls (QCRG) opened their 2015 season with an exhibition match at Buffalo RiverWorks—a one of a kind facility that will cater to brewers, bruisers, and drinkers alike.

“These girls love their beer,” says Mama Chops, spritely events coordinator for QCRG and RollerMom extraordinaire. In between hugs and high-fives from everyone passing by, Mama explained just how deep their love really is. “A lot of these girls even brew their own beer—each team brewed a batch for our Beer & Beards hombebrew competition.” She laughed at the suggestion that someone might brew a ‘Bruiser Belgian,’ replying “Chicks dig IPAs.” Willard Brooks, President of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association puts it this way: “The roller girls stand out as a group of strong women whose absolute verve and elbow grease goes to great lengths to promote local craft beer. And they have done a great deal with us. Back in 2013 we worked together on the Buffalo Beer Geek Festival at Artisan Baths and Kitchen. In 2014 we worked together at the Buffalo Brewers Festival at Canalside as well as on their awesome 1st Annual Black Rock Pub Crawl during Buffalo Beer Week. There are lots of ideas are flying around about what we might work on next—more details are sure to evolve—stay tuned.”

According to Mama, “Last year, the beer week Black Rock Pub Crawl for Beer Week went awesome and we are looking forward to hosting again.” As she surveyed the barebones structure where the bout was set to take place, she breathed in the floating dust and smiled. “This is going to be awesome.”

The bout was indeed awesome. It was a high-scoring affair, and aside from a few injuries, the violently graceful match passed without a hitch. When the dust settled, reigning champs the Nickel City Knockouts came out on top of the contending Suicidal Saucies. Following the final whistle, the girls and the crowd headed over to Pearl Street Grill & Brewery for the afterparty. “Buffalo is just a big backyard,” says Chris Herr, head brewer at Pearl Street, the Pan-Am, and the soon-to-be facility at RiverWorks. Chris has family ties with the organizers of QCRG and seems to be excited to be working hand-in-hand with the organization. While the brewery at Riverworks may still be as much as a year off, the planning stages have begun. Chris also chuckled at the suggestion of a “Bruiser Belgian,” and said “You know, I haven’t given it that much thought. We’re going to brew the Lake Effect Stout and the Trainwreck (Pearl Street & Pan-Am’s signature pale ale), but the rest of the beers we’ll be brewing will be unique to the facility.”

In the brief time that Chris has been brewing at Pearl Street, his mark has been made on all of the beers available. “We’ve upgraded our malt, moving to the next level available. It costs a bit more, but it makes a better beer, and that’s really what’s most important.” Chris said he’s tweaked some of the standard recipes, “I’m hoping that next time someone comes in, they take a sip and think ‘This is a bit different.’” Pearl Street will be debuting a new beer in the coming weeks—an ale brewed with an experimental hop variety. “The nose is heavy with peach,” Chris said, with a faraway look in his eyes that betrayed his excitement, “it’s definitely a unique flavor profile.” Pearl Street will announce the debut through their social media and e-mail newsletter, so be sure you’re in the know when this and other exciting beer pours.

The Devil Dollies will face off against the Alley Kats for the second half of the two-part Icebreaker exhibition bouts on Friday, February 13th. The first official QCRG bout is scheduled at RiverWorks for Friday, February 27th, when the Knockouts will face the Alley Kats. Season tickets for QCRG will be available soon—these events at the city’s incredible new entertainment complex are not to be missed, and will quickly sell out. Grab a beer, choose a side, and let the ladies know what you think of their jam. After the bout, join the afterparty, because the only thing better than watching these girls knocking each other down is joining them to knock a few back.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 

Contacts:   January 29, 2015     Earl Wells/Danielle DelMonte  e3communications                 716-854-8182 (office)



Who:    Willard Brooks, Chairman, Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association, Members of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association    Volunteers from various enthusiast clubs, including the Buffalo Beer League, Buffalo Beer Geeks, Queen City Roller Girls, Sultans of Swig, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association.

What:   The Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association (BNBA) will hold a volunteer ‘thank you’ event to kick off a new year of beer festivals and celebrate the ever-growing craft beer industry in Western New York.

When:        Thursday, January 29th at 5p.m.

Where:       Resurgence Brewing Co.    1250 Niagara St.  Buffalo, NY

The Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association (BNBA) will hold its first event of 2015 to thank its many volunteers and kick off a new year of craft beer events throughout Western New York. The event will feature locally made craft beer from Resurgence Brewing, Hamburg Brewing Company, Big Ditch Brewing Company and others

For more information about the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association, please visit



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Buffalo Beer League Happy Hour at Resurgence Brewery Thursday Night at 5PM

For a lot of people in Western New York, there are two seasons: Beer LeagKleenKanteen_Pint_BNBAue Softball season  and Beer League Hockey season. The trouble with these two seasons should be glaring to many – if one does not play hockey or softball, they’re missing out on the whole Beer League experience.

Or so one may think… Fortunately, for the beer loving Buffalo Niagara region, there is also the Buffalo Beer League, a group that the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association partnered with to help further it’s mission of spreading the gospel of good local beer.

Buffalo Beer League was founded in 2010 by beer enthusiasts Brian Campbell (whose name you may recognize from the pages of Artvoice) and Scott McMillan.

“When we started Buffalo Beer League, all we wanted to do was try something new and drink good beer,” said BBL co-founder Brian Campbell. “Drinking good beer with good people, aKleenKanteen_Pint_BBLll while promoting local businesses and breweries and doing whatever we can do to help further the Buffalo craft beer scene. It’s all about having fun, drinking local and drinking better beer with good friends.”

As everyone knows, the success of craft beer is a based on hard won local expansions that have allowed small local breweries compete with large multi-billion dollar companies. A classic David and Goliath story of epic proportions in which both David and the everyday beer drink win.  The most effective weapon that local breweries really need are local followers who drink their beer, support their festivals right here where the beer is made.


“The BBL and BNBA are indispensable partners in the promotion and growth of the craft beer scene in our region,” Paul Marko of Download Design adds. “Both are determined to educate and unify everyone, from seasoned enthusiasts to the person new on the craft spectrum.”

On Thursday, January 29th at 5pm, the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association, the Buffalo Beer League, are hosting a membership appreciation event of epic proportions at Resurgence Brewing Company (1250 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14213 (716) 381-9868). The event is an opportunity for members to sample beers from Resurgence Brewing, Hamburg Brewing, and Big Ditch Brewing. This incredible event is free to all members, and if you’re not currently a BNBA enthusiast member, have no fear! BBL will be selling Enthusiast memberships at the door!

Membership, as it is said, does indeed have its privileges. Each BNBA enthusiast member receives an amazing stainless steel pint glass (pictured here). This BNBA-BBL co-branded Kleen Kanteen pint is your secret handshake at local bars & breweries – flash the BNBA-BBL co-branded cup at your participating purveyor, and they in turn knock $1 off of the price of your pint. Mr. Goodbar, Resurgence Brewing Company, Community Beer Works and Hamburg Brewing Company. Big Ditch Brewing Company will offer the discount program when their tap room opens this spring.

But the coolest thing is that your Enthusiast membership helps the Buffalo Niagara Brewer’s Association do it’s work to advocate for Buffalo’s fastest-growing industry.  As a member, you get to be an active participant in this growth. BNBA is host to dozens of events throughout the year, including beer festivals and the annual 10 day celebration of everything local beer, Buffalo Beer Week. Last year’s Beer Week presented hundreds of events, and included breweries throughout Western New York and Ontario.

You may be thinking that the cost of membership to such an illustrious organization is followed by many zeroes, so prepare to be amazed: an annual Enthusiast BNBA membership costs only $40. The pint glass, the discounts, the events, pub crawls – all just $40. It is easy to sign up for your BNA Enthusiast membership with the BBL – online registration is available at and the site is set up so one can pay with PayPal or one can pay in person at any of the official BNBA-BBL events.  More information on BBL events can be found on their Facebook pages at

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Buffalo-area brewers pouring it on

Bar owner Mike Shatzel bet on craft beer when he opened Blue Monk in 2010. A magnet for craft beer lovers, the Elmwood Village brew pub regularly stocks Community Beer Works beer and rotates other local breweries into the lineup. “If the beer’s good, I’ll put it on,” he said.

Jan 23, 2015, Buffalo Business First, By Allissa Kline. [original]

Jeff Ware’s new West Side brewery has one mission: produce high-quality beer that people want to  buy.


But the salesman-turned-entrepreneur is well-aware that Resurgence Brewing Co., the seven-month-old brewery and beer garden located in a worn-down industrial district on Niagara Street, could do much more if it keeps drawing buzz, crowds and praise. It could be a spoke in the wheel of Buffalo’s economic renaissance.

“Breweries help cities come back because they’re visible,” said Ware, 33, whose team spent $1.2 million to turn a former warehouse into a brewery. “You can see it, touch it and taste it, so it’s tangible evidence of the change happening in that city or town. We just want to make good beer, but if something more happens, we wouldn’t be the first brewery to change a neighborhood.”

Small craft breweries such as Resurgence are breathing new life into communities across the country, including parts of Buffalo, where a long-overdue brewing rebirth is underway. In a city that had more than 30 breweries at one time, the newfound demand for locally made beer is real and the economic potential is huge — for the city and the region.

According to the national Brewers Association, craft breweries in New York state contributed $2.2 billion to the economy in 2012.

There is no breakdown of the regional impact, but a glance at the number of new breweries, brew pubs, distilleries and suppliers shows there has been and will be economic growth.

At least 15 breweries and brew pubs operate in Western New York, with at least seven within city limits. Farmers grow hops. Malt houses such as Niagara Malt and Queen City Malting spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy equipment to supply malt to brewers.

The financial investment is not going unnoticed. Tom McManus, CEO of KegWorks, said his 16-year-old beer supplies company experienced a dramatic rise in sales to those involved in the local craft brewing industry.

“There’s some decent investment going into this — millions of dollars,” McManus said. “These are some serious people investing serious money.”

Brewing wasn’t always such a novelty in Buffalo. In the latter half of the 19th century, the city was dotted with breweries, distilleries and malt houses. But the once-robust industry came to a halt in 1920 when Prohibition outlawed the production, transportation, import and sale of alcoholic beverages.

By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the damage was done in Western New York.

Eventually, beer-making behemoths Labatt USA, Molson Canadian and Budweiserdominated the market, and they still do, though nationwide beer sales have declined.

But something else is happening within the craft beer segment. Sales and production rise every year.

In fact, the craft beer market generated a whopping $33.9 billion in 2012, according to the Brewers Association. That figure includes breweries, wholesalers and retailers, as well as non-beer products such as food and merchandise sold in brew pubs.

Experts say the demand for “more flavorful” beer is leading to a cultural shift in consumer drinking preferences. Younger drinkers especially are turning away from national brands in favor of craft brews.

That’s where opportunity awaits for Buffalo, according to Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, which promotes tourism in Western New York.

The expanding brewing industry is good for residents — it means more jobs and more dollars — but it’s also another draw for tourists who want a “well-rounded experience,” he said.

“What’s really exciting is that breweries are popping up in new areas of Buffalo like Niagara Street and Larkinville,” Kaler said. “These are all areas that are developing along with great other assets, and the breweries are adding to that. It’s exciting because they’re drawing people into other areas.”

That includes Buffalo’s Old First Ward, where the new owners of Gene McCarthy’s Bar now brew their own beer, and Larkinville, where Flying Bison Brewing Co.’s $2 million production facility and tap room came online last fall. Tim Herzog co-founded Flying Bison in 1995 and began selling beer in 2000. For the next 12 years, Flying Bison was the only production brewery in Buffalo, until Community Beer Works began selling beer in April 2012.

Today the company is owned by Utica-based F.X. Matt Brewing Co., which put up the dollars for Flying Bison’s new facility.

Herzog said the dearth of local breweries was caused by a lack of awareness about craft beer and the overwhelming influence of mass producers.

“For a long time, it seemed like we were beating our heads against a door,” Herzog said. “But in Buffalo, in the last four or five years, there’s been a complete cultural shift in terms of beer. We’re at a point now where we could see 10,000 barrels a year coming out of Flying Bison, and that’s still in just Erie and Niagara counties, maybe a third county if we add one.”

Bart Watson, staff economist for the Brewers Association, said the brewing industry in New York is “growing very rapidly,” in part because of the state’s newly adopted craft beverage laws. The most recent legislation, signed into law in November, allows producers to serve pints on-site.

Still, craft beer sales comprised just 7.8 percent of beer sales nationwide in 2013 — and just 6 percent in New York state — which means there’s lots of room for growth.

Watson said he expects total sales in 2014 to top 10 percent when the latest data is compiled.

Of course, the viability of brewing in Buffalo depends on quality — no one wants to drink bad beer — but it also depends on the region’s ability to sell itself as a beer destination.

The Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association was formed in 2013 to raise awareness of the region’s brewing scene as a tourism magnet. The originator of the annual Buffalo Beer Week wants Buffalo and Western New York to be known for beer, much like Portland, Seattle and Asheville, N.C.

“I think we need to do everything we can to get our arms around this industry and promote it because it is such an opportunity for our region,” BNBA Chairman Willard Brooks said. “There’s a multiplying effect that comes from this, so making sure we get above the noise and get recognition as a beer destination is critical. That’s the biggest challenge and it’s extensive.”

In an effort to kick up awareness, the New York State Brewers Association is launching the “Think New York, Drink New York” advertising campaign with the help of $250,000 in state funding. The group has 130 brewery members statewide.

Executive Director Paul Leone said Buffalo’s brewing industry is “growing at a pretty good clip,” but there’s lots of room to sell more craft beer here.

“As long as the quality stays up, then the industry will continue to grow,” Leone said. “As soon as it drops, then you’ll see it decline. People are not going to drink poorly produced beer.”

Quality is top of mind for most brewers. They know that one bad beer will affect the reputation of the industry, so brewers test in small batches to ensure they have a top-notch product.

And their efforts are paying off. Community Beer Works, the city’s first nanobrewery, garners consistent praise for its beer and last March landed on a Business Insider list of top 10 craft breweries in New York state.

The company’s production facility is located just off Niagara Street, near Resurgence. It recently opened a satellite site at Hydraulic Hearth in Larkinville, a new restaurant that will serve only Community Beer Works beer.

“This is about a desire for things that are local, things that are seasonal or regional or have some sort of relationship to where they’re from,” co-founder Ethan Cox said. “And I don’t think it’s a fad because I think it’s the natural state. This is all kind of how it was.”

But how far will the local brewing scene be able to grow? Is there a point at which the market can’t absorb any more breweries?

Brooks said the city alone would support around 20 breweries, as long as the market share for craft beer continues to increase.

Others are hesitant to put a number on the total possible breweries. But there is a consensus from brewers that the demand for local beer will keep rising.

Back at Resurgence, Ware said the reception to his small business has been overwhelming. And it’s all part of what’s happening on a broader scale in Buffalo and Western New York, which he said is undergoing its own resurgence.

“You can see people want to come downtown and do cool stuff, and the breweries are part of that,” he said.

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