Thin Man Brewery Welcomes Awesome Jenkins to The Family

Snow squalls, whiteouts, bone chilling temperatures, sub-zero wind chills, you get the picture, or as we call it, winter in Buffalo. It’s the middle of February and everything that comes along with this time of year is indeed here, punching us in the face on a daily basis. Right about now, we all need an escape – something we can sink into in order to escape everything horrible going on outside, so enter Thin Man’s latest imperial stout, Awesome Jenkins, an 11.7% easy-drinker that ticks all of the necessary boxes. It will be released this Saturday, beginning at noon. Crowlers and growler fills will be available to go.

Awesome Jenkins is a draft only release, though Thin Man’s Head Brewer Rudy Watkins says that canning it might become an option in the future. He adds that Jenkins could be a candidate to fill some of the brewery’s recently acquired barrels as well (Bourbon, Rye, Port, Tequila, Scotch, Red Wine).

“Awesome Jenkins is the next in our big ol’ silly 10+% ABV imperial stout series,” he says. “This guy clocks in at 11.7% and has tons of body and mouthfeel, thanks to the addition of flaked oats. Cocoa, nuts and coconut are featured, but aren’t overwhelming. It’s a big, rich, delicious stout to help to get us through the next few months of snow and awesomeness.”

I was treated to a preview of this beer (thanks Rudy!) and quite enjoyed it. Notes of chocolate, oatmeal, subtle booze and nuts. It’s soft and velvety, and just a touch sweet. It’s bigger in ABV than its predecessor Take Precaution (cans still available at the brewery by the by) at 11.7%, but drinks lighter with less roast.

“This is a different beer from Take Precaution, of course. There are a couple of different, significant changes going on. Awesome Jenkins features a whole lot less roast than Take Precaution. They finished with the same level of residual sugar, but we tweaked a few little things on Jenkins and it comes across as more rounded and chocolatey, whereas Take Precaution was more of a roasty, old school style imperial stout. Jenkins has a nice sweetness to it, but it’s not unpleasantly sweet.”

As for the name, Awesome Jenkins is the result of Watkins and his team just having some fun. Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that why we are all so hopelessly devoted to craft beer – to have fun? AS the old saying goes, ‘if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.’

“The name, it’s just nonsense, but it is certainly fun to say. And I think that is really the ultimate goal for a beer name – have it be fun to say and have it be something that people want to say themselves. And anytime we can have a nonsense factor involved, I’m all for it.”

In the future, Thin Man will be releasing several variants of Awesome Jenkins, including Peanut Butter, Brownie (“it’s basically cocoa nibbed to hell,” Watkins says) and Coconut, plus a few others, according to Watkins. These versions should be available over the course of the next few weeks.

Watkins encapsulated this beer up in one perfect phrase – “Awesome Jenkins is the result of us just playing around and making a big stout.” Now it’s your turn to join in on the fun with a pour of Awesome Jenkins.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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Buffalo Beer Buzz: NYBP Victor Beer Hall Opens, 42 North Brewski, Pizza Plant’s Belgian Beer & Chocolate Fest, new Community Beer Works Coffee Stout

New York Beer Project to Open New Victor Location This Week

New York Beer Project’s second location in Victor, NY will officially open its doors to the public on February 14. Built to recreate New York City’s Atlantic Grand Beer Hall at the turn of the century, this new 15,700-square-foot beer hall includes an indoor beer garden complete with live chestnut trees, Beer Lover’s taproom, production brewery with an extensive barrel-aging program, rooftop terrace, and the New Yorker Loft mezzanine event space. Launch beers include Panda Paws Porter, Victor Lager and Beer Hall Ale, among others. Doors will open at 11am, with the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony scheduled for 5pm.

Embrace the Weather with Beer at 42 North’s Brewski 2019

Explore East Aurora’s Knox State Farm during 42 North Brewing’s third annual Brewski, a 2.5 mile trek through snowy trails with multiple beer stops along the way. Tickets are almost sold out online (pre-sale tickets available at EventBrite), but tickets can be purchased at the gate for $30 (only those sampling beer require tickets). Proceeds will support the Aurora Ice Association. Afterwards, your first beer is free at 42 North’s taproom during the after party, which will feature a Hot Cocoa Stout made specially for Brewski. Brewski and the after party are dog friendly. Food vendors will be on hand.

Indulge in the Finer Things at Pizza Plant’s Belgian Beer and Chocolate Fest

Pair chocolate and Belgian beer during Pizza Plant’s Belgian Beer and Chocolate Fest, February 13 (7pm), at their Transit Road location. The event will feature beers such as Ommegang Bourbon Barrel Aged Adoration Dark Ale, Rosetta, Rare Vos, Pale Sour and Game of Thrones King of the North Russian Imperial Stout, as well as St. Bernardus ABT 12, Framboise Boon and De La Senne Taras Boulba. Chocolates will be courtesy of Chow Chocolat, including a Rosetta-infused chocolate. Those that purchase a beer flight will receive a free Ommegang glass and free chocolate samples. Chocolate gift boxes will also be available.

Beat the Weather with Community Beer Works’ New Stout at Hydraulic Hearth

Nothing beats the winter blues like a nice stout and luckily, Community Beer Works and Hydraulic Hearth have us covered with their new Steamworks Stout. Brewed in collaboration with Lockport’s Steamworks Coffee, this creamy stout, which comes in at 6.1% ABV, features notes of roasted coffee, chocolate and subtle hints of vanilla. The addition of flaked oats and lactose sugar give this dark brew a smooth body, with balanced sweetness and gentle bitterness. The coffee used was a 60/40 Brazilian/Colombian blend roasted by Steamworks. Steamworks Stout is only available at Hydraulic Hearth in Larkinville. Growler fills are available to go.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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Live, Love, Drink, Die: Noble Ale Works Turns Atreyu Into Hazy Superheroes

 

Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Metallica, Deftones, Every Time I Die and now Atreyu, the latest to join a lengthy, rapidly growing list of bands who have partnered with craft breweries around the globe to create their own boozy concoctions. The Orange County metallers didn’t go too far to find their brewing partner, teaming up with neighboring Anaheim brewery Noble Ale Works on Superhero, a Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA with orange zest.

The hazy 8.7% brew features Citra and El Dorado hops for notes of lychee, tropical fruit and California navel oranges.

Superhero caters to even the most ardent of hazy worshippers – it’s soft with just a touch of prototypical West Coast resin and blossoms with notes of floral orange, stone fruit, pineapple, apricot, mango, starfruit and orange peel. It features a creamy mouthfeel and incredibly smooth finish. It’s a dangerous beer that doesn’t drink up to lofty ABV.

“What happens when an OC band teams up with an OC brewery? @atreyuofficial Superhero DIPA WITH ORANGE ZEST,” Noble Ale Works said in an Atreyu-reference filled announcement. “This beer is so badass it will leave all other brewery/band collabs in our wake. Led by Citra and El Dorado, this hazy DIPA gives soft notes of lychee, tropical fruit, and butterfly kisses, while bright California navel oranges keep the party going.”

Atreyu recently released their seventh studio album In Our Wake on Spinefarm Records. The album hit number two and number nine on Billboard’s Top Hard Rock Albums and Top Rock Albums charts, respectively. They are set to perform at a number of festivals worldwide later this year, including Germany’s Rock Am Ring, Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting and the Rock USA Festival in Wisconsin.

For more information on Atreyu, please visit http://www.atreyuofficial.com/ and for more information on Noble Ale Works, check out https://www.noblealeworks.com/.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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New York Beer Project Announces Events for Victor, NY Grand Opening

NEW YORK BEER PROJECT GRAND OPENING WEEK 
Rochester’s new Destination Brewery makes Grand Debut in Victor, NY

Celebrate New York State’s rich Brewing History at the Grand Opening Week of New York Beer Project’s stunning new Victor Beer Hall! Over 170 cast members have been training inside the facility for the past two weeks, but on Valentine’s Day the doors will open to the public for the first time.

Built to recreate the beauty of NYC’s Atlantic Grand Beer Hall at the turn of the century, this 15,700-square-foot space includes an Indoor Beer Garden adorned with life-size chestnut trees, the Beer Lover’s taproom, production brewery with extensive barrel-aging program, rooftop terrace, and the New Yorker Loft mezzanine event space.

Schedule of Events:

  • 2/11: VIP Launch Party for NYBP Mug Club members (New York Beer Project’s VIP loyalty program). (Ticketed Event)
  • 2/12: VIP Launch Party for surrounding local businesses and government officials. (Ticketed Event)
  • 2/14: Official Grand Opening of the NYBP Victor Beer Hall. Doors open to the public at 11AM, with the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony taking place at 5PM.

Owners, brewers, and key NYBP management personnel will be available for interviews and private tours throughout the week. Camera crews welcome. Please call to schedule an appointment.

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42 North Breaks Ground on New Expansion Expansion

42 North Breaks Ground on New Expansion Expansion to include increased production and hospitality space

42 North Brewing broke ground on an expansion of its operations in East Aurora, NY. 42 North acquired the neighboring property this past summer and completed the demolition of an existing structure to begin construction of the new facility.

The 6,600 square foot, 2-story addition will include a full-time canning facility, increased cooler space, office space, event space, and four AirBnB units. Plans call for the project to be completed in June 2019.

“There continues to be strong growth in craft throughout the Western New York region. This expansion allows us to meet the demands of the market and also create some unique hospitality spaces to build upon our reputation as a craft beer destination,” said 42 North founder, John Cimperman. The new structure will also be steps away from 42 North’s barrelhouse, 42 Below. As Cimperman states, “We are creating a bit of a craft campus in East Aurora.”

Cimperman added, “As we enter our fourth year of operations, we are very focused on building upon our foundation in East Aurora, rather than extending our resources to other markets or satellite locations.” 42 North’s current brewery and taproom is 11,000 square feet, located in the center of the vibrant village of East Aurora.

With the expansion, 42 North projects to increase production by 30% in 2019 and the expansion will provide the capacity to produce 15,000 barrels in the East Aurora, NY location. 42 North is currently distributed throughout Western, NY by Try-It Distributing and in the New York City market by Union Distributing.

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Buffalo Beer Buzz: 2019 Winter HopFest, Resurgence Kegs & Eggs, Flagship February at Community Beer Works, New Haze at 42 North

Winter HopFest Returns to Gene McCarthy’s / Old First Ward Brewing

Buffalo’s Winter Hop Fest returns to Gene McCarthy’s for its third year on February 9 (1-4pm). The annual celebration will feature nothing but the hoppiest of beers from OFW Brewing, 12 Gates Brewing, Big Ditch, Thin Man, Rusty Nickel Brewing, Hamburg Brewing, Four Mile Brewing, Flying Bison, 42 North Brewing, Resurgence Brewing, Buffalo Brewing Company and Pressure Drop Brewing. For $25 you will receive a logo tasting glass for sampling until the beer is all gone, hopped up hot chili will be available and $5 growler fills will be available at the end of the festival. Purchase tickets at Eventbrite.

Resurgence Brewing’s Kegs & Eggs is Back With More Experimental Beer

Resurgence Brewing’s Kegs & Eggs is back on February 10 (11am-5pm). The beer list for this K&E installment looks as good as ever with tasty brews like Very Berry Lactose Sour (Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Boysenberry), Key Lime Pie Lactose Sour, Blueberry Pancake Bock, Coffee Maple Breakfast Stout, Gin Spiced Kolsch (Juniper, Coriander, Lemon Lime), R&D IPA 16 (New England Style), Mimosa Brut IPA, Imperial Peanut Butter Porter, Barrel Aged Flanders Red, Imperial Milk Stout (Bourbon Barrel) and casks of Resurgence IPA with Spruce Tips and Lemon Zest and Oatmeal Stout with Coconut. Breakfast garbage plates will again be served.

Community Beer Works Celebrates Flagship February, Launches Nickel City Con Beer

Community Beer Works are joining in on Flagship February, a grassroots campaign started by beer writer Stephen Beaumont to shine the spotlight on core beer brands, starting on February 6. Every Wednesday in February, CBW are celebrating classic beers with cases of bottles, reps and swag. Brooklyn Brewing’s flagship Lager will be in the house on February 6, followed by Great Lakes Brewing’s Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (February 13), Ithaca Beer’s Flower Power (February 20) and Flying Bison Aviator Red with Owner Tim Herzog (February 27). CBW will also launch their official 2019 Nickel City Con beer on February 10 (5-8pm).

42 North to Drop New Hazy IPA Later This Month

Pre-Emption, True Line, Milestone 82, 42 North Brewing are set to add a new member to their hazy IPA stable with the debut of Colonel Maxwell New England IPA, a new creation that will be released at the end of the month. Colonel Maxwell is a super hazy New England IPA that features melon-forward ripe tropical fruit notes with a soft mouthfeel and little to no bitterness. The beer is brewed with Azacca, Citra and Cashmere hops, with a Mosaic dry hop. Colonel Maxwell NEIPA will be available on draft with tentative plans for it to be canned as well.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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The 11 Most Memorable Beers From the 2019 Brewer’s Invitational

 

Another Brewer’s Invitational is in the books, and I had an absolute blast yet again representing the Buffalo Beer League. Thank you to New York Beer Project for having me back again. I saw so many friends, shared an incredible amount of laughs and drank a great amount of awesome beer. And while it was a tough task, I widdled down my list to 11. It’s actually 10 beers and a mead, but who’s counting.

Our area breweries certainly stepped their game up at this year’s Brewer’s Invitational. I’ve been to all three thus far, and this was by far the best selection of beers yet. Hazy IPA’s, milkshake IPA’s, pastry stouts, barrel aged everything, gose’s and sours, this year there was literally something for everyone, including cider and mead as well.

I had plenty of awesome beer that didn’t make this list either. I had my first two beers from Big Inlet Brewing down in Mayville, another banger from One-Eyed Cat Brewing (Champ Stamp Vermont-Style IPA) – they should be open later this year BTW – a real nice Chocolate and Marshmallow Oatmeal Stout from West Shore Brewing, Eli Fish’s Bourbon Leroy Brown Imperial Brown Ale Aged in Black Button Bourbon Barrels, Flying Bison’s Thundersnow IPA on cask, Thin Man’s Helter Kelter Kellerbier on cask and Rusty Nickel’s Bourbon Oaked Slice O’ Havens. Like I said, there was a lot of good beer to be had.

Here are the 11 beers I found most memorable:

12 Gates Brewing Don’t Stop Meow Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Roasted Habanero Porter: This adjunct-palooza featured a myriad of flavors. It was creamy and incredibly rich with a nice heat kick on the finish. It drank fairly lightly for 5.8%.

Belt Line Brewery & Kitchen Main Course Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA: The latest IPA offering from newcomers Belt Line was both fully hopped and fully bodied with big notes of citrus. Gonna have to revisit this one soon at the taproom. I also liked their Crosscut Stout with Barrel Aged Whistle Pig Coffee.

Big Ditch Pina Colada Milkshake IPA: To be honest, it took me a few of these to really get into this beer. It towed the line between cocktail and beer with creamy notes of cherry, coconut and orange. I’ll admit I didn’t know what to think at first, but this beer is why I love craft beer, and why I always say, craft beer is meant to be fun.

Brickyard Brewing White Bronco New England IPA: Bronco has become a staple of these Best Of lists of mine, and this time it’s no different. Easily the freshest batch I’ve had at only nine days old, this beer was bursting with floral tropical fruit, and it finished so damn soft. The first beer I had at the festival, and one of the most memorable. Their Pairs Well With Surrender Chardonnay Barrel Aged Brut IPA was quite the wacky interpretation of the style, and I appreciated the hell out of it. Drank a lot like a dry white wine with notes of white grape and white peach.

Five and 20 Spirits & Brewing Commiseration Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout: The latest barrel aged concoction from Five & 20 is indeed their greatest one yet. Incredibly boozy with big chocolate notes to go along with hints of vanilla and oak. This one was so good that I left the Brewer’s Invitational with a bottle. Thanks Paul! Their Tiramisu Stout was also pretty delectable with smooth lactose notes. I love seeing the evolution of their beer.

Lilly Belle Brett Aged Purpeara Mead with Fredonia Grapes: I don’t consider myself much of an expert when it comes to mead, but this one was fantastic in my mind. Green coffee nose with little to no roast. Constantly changing and evolving flavors of grape, pear, white peach. Purpeara was really a chameleon of flavors.

New York Beer Project SuperFunk Farmhouse Sour: This was a nice way to finish off the fest. Massive sour grape pucker up front. Pungent and tart with a clean finish that didn’t linger. I only wish I could have a grabbed another pour of this, but I’m glad I grabbed one of these on my way out.

Thin Man Brewery DDH Galaxy Bliss DIPA: This beer was so good that I’m annoyed I’m not drinking it right now. Thankfully it will be at the brewery soon enough. Pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi – hell, all of the tropical fruit were featured in this one. Thankfully, there wasn’t a line when I was at Thin Man because I drank about 4 of these.

If you missed this year’s Brewer’s Invitational, hopefully I’ll see you next year because this is quickly becoming one of the best events of the beer calendar.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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Latest Winter Storm Named After Rusty Nickel Beer

The October Surprise, Snowvember, Knife and Aphid; we love to name our winter storms in Buffalo. The latest, Winter Storm Ebenezer IPA, would have made late iconic Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin proud, as it’s named in honor of a flagship beer at West Seneca’s Rusty Nickel Brewing.

The name comes courtesy of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who came up with the name after an appearance on 103.3 The Edge’s Shredd & Ragan morning show.

“I have an answer to the question asked on @ShreddandRagan’s show: What’s the name of the storm. Our @ErieCountyDPW names them after storms. We are in the letter E for storms so it’s #WinterStormEbenezerIPA from @RustyNickelBrew in WS. Much better than Jaden and tasty too!” Poloncarz tweeted. “That is names them after beer!”

The name clearly resonated with the Town of West Seneca, who quickly tweeted out their approval: “Stay safe and warm throughout this winter storm as the snow has now arrived in #WestSeneca – and check it out, #WinterStormEbenezerIPA is named after a local West Seneca business, @RustyNickelBrew!”

Rusty Nickel also got in on the Twitter love, tweeting, “We LOVE it,” and although they are closed today due to Winter Storm Ebenezer IPA, they are offering $2 off each pint of Ebenezer IPA sold in their taproom through Friday.

“Stay home, enjoy a beer indoors, & we hope to see you tmmrw … while enjoying a $2 discount on pints of Ebenezer IPA!” the brewery added in a follow-up tweet.

Named after the Hamlet of Ebenezer where the brewery resides Rusty Nickel’s Ebenezer IPA is a balanced and hoppy, yet drinkable American-style IPA that clocks in at 7% ABV.

Rusty Nickel will also debut their Bourbon Oaked Slice O’ Havens at 5pm this Friday in their taproom. This limited edition batch uses local Niagara Malt and is infused with Niagara Craft Spirits bourbon. The beer officially made its debut at this past weekend’s Brewer’s Invitational at New York Beer Project.

And as we suffer through Winter Storm Ebenezer IPA, it’s probably best we all heed the advice of late Mayor Griffin and “stay inside and grab a six pack.”

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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Drink Like The Pros Drink: Your Favorite Brewers’ Favorite Beers Of 2018

I say it at the end of every year (and this one is no different) – 2018 was one hell of a year for beer. As I write these words, I’m enjoying a can of Resurgence Brewing CitMo IPA 2.0 (my last can sadly – time to restock), just one of many great beers to come out of Western New York over the course of the past 365 days. As you’ll find out in this article, our area produced a lot of memorable brews in 2018.

And it’s not just Buffalo enjoying the craft beer boom, it’s the entire country. The Brewers Association reports that, in 2018, craft sales continued to grow at a rate of 5 percent by volume, reaching 12.7 percent of the US beer market by volume and retail dollar sales grew 8 percent, reaching $26 billion, accounting for more than 23 percent of the total $111.4B US beer market. And, as you’d probably expect, IPA’s continue to drive the craft beer vehicle, constituting nearly a quarter of the market.

We spoke with dozens of local beer luminaries, including friends, brewers, brewery owners and personnel, about their favorite beers from 2018. This is the biggest response I’ve ever received for this piece, so sit back, crack a few of your favorite beers (local or non-local, no judgement here), and see what your favorite brewers’ favorite beers from last year.

Matt Kahn, Owner, Big Ditch Brewing Company: “Here are some beers our brewers loved: Eddy Fitz from the source at Great Lakes in Cleveland, Pineapple Tangerine Grapefruit Jelly King from Bellwoods. From New York: All Green Everything from Other Half, Lickable Wallpaper from Fifth Frame. 100 Ft North from Suarez was probably the best beer any of us had this year, but Soleil Farmhouse and Passionfruit Silhouette from Hudson Valley Brewery were close. And to our local brothers and sisters: The Halt Goses, Asylum in cans, and Sojourn in bottles from 42 North Brewing, Minkey Boodle, Trial by Wombat and Aura Saison from Thin Man, Galaxy DDH XPA from Woodcock, Zombie Saison from New York Beer Project, #Smashtag from Old First Ward Brewing, and Delicate Kettle Sour from Resurgence, amongst many others. We’ve said it before – there is as good beer made in Buffalo as anywhere in the country right now.”

Matt Gordon, Head Brewer, Woodcock Brothers Brewing: “There were so many great beers that I had this year and I’m very proud to say that my absolute favorite is from a fellow ECC grad classmate. Commiseration from Paul [Alessi] at Five & 20, an imperial stout that was aged in their own bourbon barrels. Great notes of vanilla and chocolate with just enough bourbon flavor. Another great stout I had was on my Thanksgiving trip to Tennessee. Naked River’s MoonPie Stout. Absolutely fantastic flavors of marshmallow, chocolate, and campfire aroma. Lastly, I’ll be a homer. Woodcock Brothers Imperial XPA was a favorite of mine that I couldn’t get enough of. Cheers to Buffalo!”

Ethan Cox, President, Community Beer Works: “Ithaca Brut 2007, hands down. My brother in-law Mike and I split a case once, ten years ago, when we were in Chautauqua to see Alison Krauss. After driving up from New Jersey (we saw a split Flaming Lips / Weezer show the night before), we hit the original Ithaca retail location, a former convenience store, on release day. It was busy, but not like, lines. I would not meet then-brewer “Chief” (Jeff O’Neill) for many years to come (his reputation has grown a lot and he currently helms Industrial Arts). Nonetheless, he had already blown craft beer minds with Flower Power, prior editions of Brute, and Le Bleu, so we knew we should just grab a case. We drank one in the parking lot of the Chautauqua Institute before the show, super beer-geek tailgating for the time. Over the years, when he is visiting or the other way around, we’ll have one and by now we’ve dwindled down to two—well, one; this was Mike’s last. We split it over the now decade-old tradition of Thanksgiving with my sister’s family, accompanied by my mom & her wife. We have heritage birds (not always turkey), loads of veggie sides, and after a game / digesting, the best pies ever. This year, with Brute. Our Whale from a can is a close second because man, that was a long time coming.”

John Domres, Owner/Brewers, Buffalo Brewing Company: “I have been enjoying Foam Brewers Experimental Jet Set and The Shining. Treehouse Haze, Hurricane, & Julius. Other Half Mosaic Day Dream & Broccoli. From a local perspective Hamburg Lab Coat Series #5, Flying Bison Zeal! IPA, Juice Caboose (put that shit in cans please), Big Ditch Packet, Thin Man Trial By Wombat, Brickyard Brewing White Bronco. I am proud of what this area has become for beer. I still remember telling my parents in 2009 that I am going to open a brewery in Buffalo and make beer for a living. They both thought I was insane. Flash forward nine years and here we are with seven employees and I get to live my dream every day. It really is true; if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I am so fortunate to be able to do this and drink the great beers being made in WNY, NYS and beyond.”

Rudy Watkins, Head Brewer, Thin Man Brewery: “Fun games! So much beer. The most revelatory beer I had this year was Nymburk Postřižinské Světlý Ležák 11° (say that five times fast). I was lucky enough to tour their facility this fall & drink some of this beer fresh from the lagering tank. It was absolute perfection. Beautiful malt character, intensely flavorful & aromatic in terms of hops and dry as hell. I’ve been describing it as being like fresh De Ranke XX Bitter or De La Senne Taras Boulba, but as a Czech Lager. I’ll be trying to pick this one apart for a while.”

Matt Holtz, Operations Manager, Ellicottville Brewing: “This has been a great year for beer in WNY! Looking to see what next year has in store. I certainly had my personal share. I got the opportunity to spend a week in Asheville and took a trip across New York and up through Vermont. We saw some amazing properties, met great people and drank some really great beer. Studying for the Cert Cicerone also gave me a good opportunity to get very familiar with some classic heavy hitters. Favorite beer at EBC this year was our Foggy Style alongside of some other great IPAs. The Bourbon Barrel St. Jacob’s is delicious. It aged in Southern Tier Bourbon Barrels and we bottled it in 22’s on our new machine in Little Valley. Dan and crew nailed it. We also brought back a certain delicious 10.6% IIPA that we had to change the name of…but we won’t talk about that. The guys up north are killing it! Big Ditch’s Lock Series, Thin Man’s collabs and 42 North’s creations are among the greats. I was extremely impressed with Blackman Farms Homestead Hops – this year they did a Mosaic version that was cool.”

Bryan Kirchmyer, Head Brewer, Old First Ward Brewing: “A few of my favorite non-local beers this year would be almost everything I’ve had from Suarez Brewing. They are a prime example of a world-class brewery right here in NY. Ballantine Pilsner blew me away as did their sours. Also, the best NEIPAs I’ve ever had came from Good Fire Brewing. This Terps IPA and Waves IPA were like nothing I’ve ever had. Incredible. As for local beers, I loved CBWs Alpaca Porter this year, Thin Man’s Trail By Wombat and Pills Mafia, and 42 North’s Halt, Who Gose There was pretty dope. I was envious of 12 Gates for making a true Eisbock. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Props to them.”

Patrick Alexanderson, Owner, One-Eyed Cat Brewing: “I have to say, 2018 was a GREAT year for local beer! The growth in the local industry as well as the expanded availability and awareness has led to some decent innovation and creativity on the part of the brewers. Some highlights for us have been Das Blep, a collaboration between West Shore and Brickyard Brewing, Conehead IPA by Resurgence, the Towpath series from Big Ditch, Landing Strip by our good friends at 12 Gates (howdy, pardner!), and Strummer from Pressure Drop. As far as our own production, Take It Easy, Brenda was a surprise hit, and Llama Lleggings pushed us into the sour realm with a flair.”

Jarrad Childs, Director of Marketing, Four Mile Brewing: “Our Christmas List Brews: Hamburg Just Saying, Woodcock Stiff Mitten, Ellicottville Foggy Style, Big Ditch Cinnamon Apple, Southern Tier Nu Skool, Resurgence Citmo 3.0, Pressure Drop Strummer, Five & 20 Grape Lakes, Flying Bison Winter Warmer.”

Paul Alessi, Head Brewer, Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing: “From our own family of products, we have been enjoying Commiseration, a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. On the national stage, we really love the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. A great beer for a great cause! As for some of our local favorites, we loved everything about the Class is in Session. It was truly a great collaborative effort, and we were thrilled to participate with so many other great local brewers. We also enjoyed the Bourbon Barrel Aged Blonde Stout from Windy Brew, J-Pop: Ume Plum Gose from Sato Brewpub, Dissolution from 12 Gates, and the Spruce Tip from Ellicottville Brewing Company.”

Dave Schiralli, Brewer, 12 Gates Brewing: “At 12 Gates we brewed two wet hop IPA’s during harvest time on our pilot system. This is one of my favorite styles because it has such a small window of availability. We did a Cascade batch and a Chinook batch. The Chinook was my favorite as it imparted a nice fresh grassy aroma and flavor along with dank, piney citrus one normally finds from Chinook. Throughout the summer, one of my go-to beers was Island Sour Farmhouse made by our friends at 42 North. In the heat of the summer, it is very refreshing with a good balance between mango, passion fruit, guava, acidity and malt. Recently I tried the new Brut IPA from Resurgence. That is a very well made beer with white grape and grapefruit aroma and flavor. It is effervescent and is perfectly dry, but with enough malt backbone to balance the hops and low final gravity.”

Tim Herzog, Owner, Flying Bison Brewing: “So many days! So many beers! You want me to choose? This year I have been lucky enough to get to a few of the local breweries for a beer(s), and enjoyed them; some Fall Black at Big Ditch after our BNBA Meeting, a Sticky Trees (or two) with Karl [Kolbe] at Pressure Drop, Small Town at Hamburg on the patio, a couple Resurgence IPA’s with Jeff [Ware] and Bryan [Kirchmyer]’s Hefeweizen at Old First Ward, to name a few. As I write this I am looking forward to a pint of MacBison Scotch Ale when I get home.

Jonah Epstein, Owner, MyCity Brew: “With so many quality brews released over the past year, it’s tough for me to pick out just one. I really enjoy getting out and trying the latest from all local breweries, but the one I kept coming back to was our Byson Brown Dunkel. Yes, this is far and away the most cliché answer I could give (I’m cringing a little bit as I type this). And no, it’s also not a totally fair answer either because we haven’t officially released the beer. But, after having the opportunity to taste our pilot batches through each of the four seasons, I can confirm that it is a very solid go-to session beer for any time of year. Well done, Buffalo. You can have some in 2019.”

Matt Matuszewski, Head Brewer, 42 North Brewing: “Buffalo is putting out some killer brews at this point, it’s hard to really put down a favorite for the year. However, these three are the beers that when available I will instantly go for. #Mashtag from Old First Ward; it’s hazy, fruity, and well balanced it’s got everything you need. Quat Life? from Sato Brewpub; you’ve got a great Belgian-style base made even better by the addition of kumquats – I think I’ve probably recommended that beer my friends more than anything else this year. Lastly, Halt! Who Gose there? from 42 North; Halt has been my go-to shift beer since it came out – it’s just what I’m looking for after a long day in the brewery, it’s refreshing, has huge fruit flavor, and a moderate ABV.”

Jason Crossett, Head Brewer, New York Beer Project: “This past year has seen a lot of great local beer made by all of my friends. Two beers that stood out for me were Community Beer Work’s 2016 Barrel Aged Pantomime Horse and Big Ditch’s WNY Bidwell Wild Ale. Pantomime Horse was very complex yet super balanced. It’s rounded malt character contained a touch of smokiness that was balanced nicely by the hop bitterness, woody undertones, and mild funk and acidity. I’m a huge fan of beers that utilize wild yeast/bacteria for fermentation. In the case of Big Ditch’s Bidwell Wild Ale, they used yeast/bacteria contained on fruit to ferment their beer, contributing a complex acid profile that was delicate, yet provided the backbone for such a refreshing fruity beer. My favorite beer that we brewed at New York Beer Project this year is our Hard Day’s Night Porter. It has a wonderful malt profile packing rich flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, and light caramel with a roasty finish. It’s the perfect beer to drink in the winter, yet is easy enough to drink year round! Going outside the local realm, one of my favorite beers I drank all year is Westvleteren 12. It was my first time drinking this beer and man did it not disappoint. This Belgian Quad exhibited a wonderful malt profile containing dark fruits and toasted bread. The effervescent like carbonation contributed to the overall character of the beer. It aided in lightening up the beer’s body making it easy to drink, while lifting up the wonderful fruit aromas and mild spices from the yeast. Extremely smooth beer for being just over 10 percent ABV. Shout out to my buddy Glen for sharing this gem!”

Matt Redpath, Head Brewer, Jamestown Brewing: “PBR was my go to this year. Founders All Day IPA and really anything I had from De Garde.”

Brian Vaughn, Brewer, Resurgence Brewing: “Some of my favorite beers from 2018 were Prison City Mass Riot (a great NEIPA with Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe), Grimm Galaxy Pop (lemon meringue pie in a glass), Industrial Arts Wrench (just the right amount of haze), Thin Man’s Burning Money (my favorite from Rudy), Modern Times Black House (pretty cool concept because they roast their own coffee), Bellwoods Jelly King Series (fantastic rotating fruited sours) and Bellwoods Bring Out Your Dead (an Imperial Stout Aged in Cognac barrels). There were so many great beers that it is hard to choose.  I really enjoyed a lot of our beers from Resurgence as well – and our Oktoberfest is one of my favorites.”

Nick Torgalski, Lead Brewer, Resurgence Brewing: “I really enjoyed and got to try a lot of beers this year. Some of my favorites were the XPA series from Woodcock Brothers and 12 Gates / Buffalo Brewpub Buffalo Breakfast Stout with local coffee beans and maple syrup. From our beers, Conehead IPA and Citmo 2.0. It was really cool to be able to make a beer and see Conehead sell it at the ballpark. Citmo 2.0 was a fun experiment that turned into a really great beer. The Big Ditch Lock Series was really good and so was the 42 North Meridian Series. It is great to see so many local breweries pushing out great products.”

Drew Zach, Director of Brewery Operations, Resurgence Brewing: “Being new to the industry, there were a lot of great beers I was able to try this past year. I really enjoyed a lot of our own beers – Ice Boom Bock, Citmo 2.0, and Conehead. We just made a small change to our Head in the Clouds Double IPA and it is my new go to until it hits me that it is 8.4%. Our Black Current Kettle Sour was great during the summer. Buffalo is really making a lot of great beers and I am excited for all of us to push each other to make Buffalo a beer destination. I have really enjoyed what Pressure Drop – Karl – has been putting out lately. Their Space Monkey Series and Bryan from OFW’s #Smashtag. Some from out of the area were Eagle Park Brewing out of Milwaukee. They had some great NEIPA’s (Tony Had Hair in the 90’s and Hey Aqualong) and Common Roots up in Glens Falls. There were also a lot of great collaborations over the year and it is exciting to see what we can collectively come up with in 2019.”

Tessa Lowe, Marketing Manager, 12 Gates Brewing: “2018 was filled with loads of experiences and incredible beers. A highlight for me was enjoying my first 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze at Koelschip in Copenhagen. We basically dedicated the entire trip to Mikkeller spot hopping and this amazing Belgian pub/bottle shop was connected to Mikkeller and Friends, which happened to be a stone’s throw from our AirBnb. While it was tempting to grab a staple Cantillon, the knowledgeable bartender recommended we opt for the 3 Fonteinen instead. It’s been a while since my intro to Lambics (likely a Lindemans Framboise) but I’m far from an expert. It was actually the first time I’ve had beer served out of a basket and it made for an even more memorable experience. In case you’re not familiar with the servicing technic, it’s to keep most of the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. The beer had just the right amount of funk for me and the perfect level of carbonation to compliment our Thanksgiving feast consisting solely of beef jerky and potato chips. Honestly, I’d take that over a traditional holiday meal and trendy beer of the week every time. My local go-to lately has been 12 Gates’ Landing Strip American IPA. I’m stoked it will soon be available in 16oz cans so I can have one more frequently than just when I’m able to get out to the taproom. Look out for those on the shelf mid-January, 2019.”

John Paul Meeter, Head Brewer, Brickyard Brewing Company: “I noticed that a lot of brewers/reps/owners pick their own beers first, but the one local brew that sticks out in my mind is Big Ditch’s 100% NY Pale Ale. That beer is absolutely beautiful. Totally underrated in the WNY scene, and a beer I wish I could buy fresh in cans. Another favorite of mine from this year was the Big Ditch / Pressure Drop collab, Aqua Buddha. I couldn’t get enough of that stuff! I’m sure I’m forgetting local stuff I love, but there’s so much goodness now, who can blame me? On the national front, I have to mention Troegs Bros out of Hershey, PA. They are hands down my favorite brewery, and beers like Mortal Cherry, Blackberry Tizzy, and Wild Elf have changed what I expect from mixed fermentation beers. And shout out to Mad Elf, for being my all-time favorite winter seasonal. Now getting into my favorite from our own brewhouse – number one spot has to go to Das Blep, our collab with West Shore. The whole story behind the absurdity of the can art, the name, and using nearly 5lbs. per BBL of Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy was an awesome experience. Josh and I just went with it. And shout out to our own house favorite, White Bronco. That blend of Amarillo, Citra, El Dorado, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops is something else!”

Jon McLellan, Owner, Jamestown Brewing: “My 2018 beers of choice are Founders Solid Gold Lager and Köstritzer Schwarzbier.”

Drew Hardin, Head Brewer, SATO Brewpub: “2018. Man what a ride. Beer is ever pushing on. What a time to be alive! To those quaffing in 2019. Cheers! Prost! Kanpai! It has been a year of modesty and growth. Buffalo beer has been BLOOMING. Thin Man, Resurgence, New York Beer Project, CBW. Beer is growing in Buffalo. I, personally, have loved the return of local lagers. Also, I’d prefer the darker ones. So many great wines, meads, and ciders should have made this list. Little Birds Have Fast Hearts…hands down…a sour Farmhouse IPA from Orpheus Brewing during my trip to Atlanta. The tartness with citrus hop accent and, horse funk, stole my heart. 2015 Pantomime Horse, (bottled, cellared): a true old ale. Handled with care from everyone who saw it from mash, to barrel, to bottle, to medal at GABF. Smokey, balanced, yet delicate. Pleasure in a bottle. All the LOCAL lagers I have seen. Clean, refreshing, nothing to hide behind. Proof that Buffalo Brewers are force to face. Other publicans will say I drink a lot of Miller High Life. Like I said, what a time to be an epicurean in Buffalo, especially when it comes to beer.”

Scott McMillan, Co-Founder, Buffalo Beer League: “Top ten beers that stand out from the last year (in no particular order) – Woodland Farms Kentucky Woden Old Ale, 12 Gates Brewing My Aching Bock, Exchange Brewing Black Saison, The Answer Barrel Aged I Am CM Bryant, Thin Man Fresh Fruited Minkey Boodle, 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze, Triple Crossing Ivory Crossing, The Veil Brewing Special Combo #3, Resurgence Brewing Black Currant Kettle Sour, Niagara Oast House Toasted Walnut Bourbon Porter.”

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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Buffalo Beer Buzz: Name CBW’s Nickel City Con beer, new beers at Belt Line, Buffalo Brewery Mural, Woodcock Mug Club

Vote for a Name for Community Beer Works’ 2019 Nickel City Con Beer

You can help name Community Beer Works’ official beer of the 2019 Nickel City Comicon by casting your vote at CBW’s Facebook and Instagram. Choose from six options for the beer, an American Pale Ale with tropically expressive hops, including True Believers, NCC Episode IV: A New Hop, Wubba Lubba Glug Glug, Hopronomicon, Stan, and Into The Maltiverse. Two names with the most votes advance to the next round, then vote by paper ballot in CBW’s taproom on February 10. Winner receives a pair of weekend tickets to the con and a CBW gift pack. Polls close February 8 (12pm).

New Beers Coming to Belt Line Brewery This Week

A number of new beers are set to make their debut at Belt Line Brewery & Kitchen this week. First up, A Beer With Nelson, a Double Dry-Hopped IPA with Nelson Sauvin, will hit taps January 29, then Mo-Lanta, a Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA with Mosaic hops, will be released on February 1 (2pm). There will also be a limited amount of their Crosscut Stout Aged on Whistle Pig Barrel Aged Coffee, as well as their DDH Main Course DIPA, available. This week the brewery is open Tuesday (3-10pm), Wednesday (3-10pm), Friday (2-11pm), Saturday (12-11pm) and Sunday (12-5pm). Closed Thursday.

Buffalo Brew Fab Creates Ultimate Buffalo Brewery Mural

Buffalo Brew Fab has created the ultimate tribute to Buffalo’s beer scene with their Buffalo Brewery Mural, a giant Buffalo emblazoned with each brewery’s logo. It will go on display at World of Beer (February 2, 5pm), before it’s raffled off. Raffle tickets are $20 with all proceeds going to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Niagara Arts and Cultural Center. See it at Big Ditch Brewing (Feb. 6, 5pm), 12 Gates Brewing (Feb. 9, 5pm) and Rusty Nickel Brewing (Feb. 15, 5pm). Winner chosen at The Art of Beer (March 8, winner does not need to be present to win).

Woodcock Brothers Brewery Launches New Mug Club

Wilson’s Woodcock Brothers Brewery is launching a new Mug Club and are currently accepting memberships. A one-year membership costs $100 and includes a 20oz. mug (four extra ounces of beer for same price of a 16oz. price), free fill on your birthday, early access to new release beers at the brewery and exclusive access to ‘Hoppy Hour,’ a Happy Hour for Mug Club members featuring discounts on beer. The mugs are not available for retail and are just for the mug club members to use in house. Mug Club starts February 1. Sign up is currently for their Wilson location.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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