Resurgence Brewing Looks to Redefine Beer Releases with HopMule

There are many pros and cons to waiting in line for beer, the worst being not having enough time and not knowing if there will be enough beer to go around (there’s also line shares and comradery too, so it’s not all bad). Resurgence Brewing are playing the role of guinea pig in HopMule, a new tool that seeks to take the guessing out of the beer waiting game, with the release of a new batch of their CitMo IPA 2.0 and brand new PB Sponge Swirl, a new blend of Peter B. Porter and Sponge Candy Swirl. Both beers are available for preorder right now at HopMule (as is their new Brut IPA, but more on that later).

Using HopMule is simple. Visit https://app.myhopmule.com, place your order, select your pick-up window, pay, and that’s it. Then go to the brewery at the time you selected and pick up your beer – no waiting in line, just walk up to the bar and grab your brew. Resurgence is currently the only brewery using the service (it is still in beta testing).

Resurgence Owner Jeff Ware says that the goal of HopMule is to create a place where anyone can go to see all of the new beer releases in one place. While he knows there are those who don’t mind waiting in line for beer, he says HopMule wasn’t created to eliminate that aspect of beer releases – it was created to help streamline the process.

“It’s about trying to create a release marketplace – one centralized place where every brewery can post their releases to. A place where a consumer can see all of the releases they want without having to visit 12 different websites or social media pages. I think it’s a much needed thing in our beer scene. I think the whole line culture is fun and cool if you want to do it and we, as a brewery, support that as well, but if you’re a busy father of three with only a couple of hours to go out and grab a beer, this could be a solution for a lot of people. We know it’s not for everybody.”

Ware adds that HopMule, which was developed by a local IT company, was born out of a need to make things easier for both the taproom and customer when it comes to beer releases. He admits that things should go a lot smoother if the brewery knew how many people to expect for each release.

“This came about around a year and a half ago. We were holding beer releases, say, like the last time we released Peter B. Porter, and you’d come into the taproom and we’d be three or four deep at the bar and everyone is ordering 10 crowlers a piece. And while all of our bartenders were busy getting crowlers, not everyone there was getting served. Our customers are having a bad experience, our wait staff is overwhelmed, and no one is enjoying it. The fastest you can make a crowler is [approximately] two minutes. And we’re not even one of those breweries that gets crazy lines. We thought, how can we do it where we can maximize customers experience in the taproom, but also maximize the ease of managing a release. So, we thought to ourselves – there has to be a better way to do this.”

“What it does on the taproom side is help to alleviate that bottleneck or lack of bottleneck. Sometimes we do a release and we only sell a handful of cases, other times we sell 50 cases. There’s no real rhyme or reason, and this helps us know ahead of time how many people are coming, so we can setup and staff the release appropriately.”

Ware says that the idea for the PB Sponge Swirl came about when he was sitting at the bar drinking Peter B. Porter and envisioning it with more chocolate sweetness. “We were playing around with a mix and realized that the sweetness really plays well with the peanut butter, a lot like a peanut butter cup or peanut M&M. This beer will be perfect for the holiday season and will make for something cool to bring to a holiday party.”

A limited amount of PB Sponge Swirl will be available on draft and in cans (1 case limit PP, approximately 25 cases available). CitMo 2.0 will also be available on draft and in cans (1 case limit), with limited amounts of draft/cans going out to distribution.

Next weekend, Resurgence is releasing Brut IPA, which features a strong aroma of sharp citrus rind, white peach, lemon and grape. This hazy IPA will send fruit character riding across the palate and finishing dry but full of flavor. Ware says that Brut IPA “is the perfect beer for New Year’s Eve,” especially since they are not throwing their New Year’s party at the brewery this year due to an already full schedule. You can pre-order the beer on HopMule and pick-up on Dec. 14. The beer will officially release the following day. For more information on the Brut IPA release, click here.

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: SATO, West Shore Celebrate Stout Season, Hamburg’s 25 Days of Xmas, Bar Cultivar to Open, Buffalo Cask Fest VIP Night

SATO Brewpub, West Shore Brewing Brew Up a Sweet Treat

SATO Brewpub and West Shore Brewing are celebrating stout season with a truly special collaborative concoction, a Mississippi Mud Pie-style stout named Forbidden Mud Pie Stout that clocks in at 7.6% ABV. The new beer features loads of chocolate malt, forbidden Japanese rice, milk sugar and additional extracts added to emulate a creamy traditional Mississippi Mud Pie (think flavors of chocolate, vanilla, graham cracker, marshmallow and more). The tasty brew is currently on tap in Clarence at West Shore Brewing (draft and crowler fills available to go) and will be on tap at SATO Brewpub on Pearl Street very soon.

Celebrate the 25 Days of Christmas at Hamburg Brewing

The annual 25 Days of Christmas is back and underway at Hamburg Brewing. The month-long promotion runs through December 24 in Hamburg’s taproom and features daily promotions at the brewery. Here’s how it works – start by picking up a punch card at the brewery, then visit the taproom each day throughout December to participate in different daily promotions. Get at least 12 punches to receive a $50 gift certificate and gain entry to the Grand Prize (become Hamburg’s Brewer for a Day, drawn Dec. 28). Click here to see all of daily promotions as part of 25 Days of Christmas.

Bar Cultivar Set to Open in The Barrel Factory

The Barrel Factory, home to Pressure Drop Brewing and Lakeward Spirits, is set to grow with the addition of SteamPunk Cider’s Bar Cultivar, which will focus on terroir-driven ciders, while also offering a variety of beer, wine and cider-based cocktails. Bar Cultivar will officially open their doors December 8 (12-11pm). The grand opening will also serve as the official launch of five new SteamPunk ciders – Single Variety Brown Snout, Single Variety Chisel Jersey, Single Variety Dabinette, Single Variety Medaille d’or and Hojack Heritage Blend. All will be available on tap and will be available via 16oz. can fills (off tap).

Local Breweries Unite for VIP Local Brewers Night During Buffalo Cask Fest

The 2018 Buffalo Cask Fest officially gets underway at the VIP Local Brewers Night, December 6, an exclusive event that features casks from all-local breweries. This year’s event will feature limited cask beers such as Community Beer Works Thick & Sticky DDH Double IPA with Orange Peel and Orange Juice, 12 Gates Mango Chili Kettle Sour, Resurgence Pineapple Mango CitMo IPA, 42 North Fruited Belgian Wheat, Flying Bison Bison Best Bitter with Cascara and Old First Ward Imperial Hefeweizen. There are a few tickets remaining for the event and are $25. Buffalo Cask Fest runs Dec. 7-9 at Mr. Goodbar.

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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Bar Cultivar Set to Open in The Barrel Factory

The Barrel Factory, located in the Old First Ward and home to Pressure Drop Brewing and Lakeward Spirits, continues to grow with the addition of Bar Cultivar, which will have a heavy focus on terroir-driven ciders, while also offering a variety of beer, wine and cider-based cocktails. Bar Cultivar will officially open their doors on December 8 (12-11pm).

Leonard Oakes will use the grand opening as the official launch of five new SteamPunk ciders – Single Variety Brown Snout, Single Variety Chisel Jersey, Single Variety Dabinette, Single Variety Medaille d’or and Hojack Heritage Blend. All five will be available on tap and will be available via 16oz. can fills (off tap).

Bar Cultivar will showcase various cider regions from around the world to further appreciate cider’s place at the table and its prevalence in said culture. Alongside the opening, a new line of SteamPunk ciders will be released, which put the apple varieties into focus, while giving definition to their sense of place.

“Bar Cultivar is the culmination of 17 years of growing and fermenting cider specific varieties while reveling in all things cider. The opening of Bar Cultivar leads directly into our centennial year as fourth generation apple farmers in Western New York. We are proud of our heritage and excited for the opportunity to share the versatility, complexity, and depth of character that we know cider to be,” Jarod Thurber of Leonard Oakes says.

Bar Cultivar is located inside the Barrel Factory (65 Vandalia St.). For more details, or if you have questions, please email barcultivar@gmail.com or call (585) 318-4418.

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Enjoy 12 Days of Beer During 12 Gates of Christmas at 12 Gates Brewing

Remember The 12 Days Of Christmas? You know the song – lords a leaping, maids a milking, swans a swimming and all that. But haven’t you ever sat back and thought, ‘hey, this song would be much better if this was 12 days of beer?’ OK, there’s a good chance no one in the history of the world ever thought that but still, wouldn’t it be cool if there were a 12 Beers of Christmas? 12 straight days of new beer releases to help usher in the Christmas season? Sounds great, right? Oh wait, that’s exactly what the 12 Gates of Christmas at 12 Gates Brewing is. Yep, you read that right.

Starting on December 1, 12 Gates will release a new beer each day, along with an in-house special on beer and brewery merchandise, for 12 days leading up to the release of their Grave Concerns Russian Imperial Stout at their Third Anniversary Party on December 12. And if you go to the brewery each day to drink each beer, you’ll receive a custom t-shirt. Just ask your bartender for a punch card to participate.

Up first is Hot Chocolate Amber on Dec. 1, 12 Gates’ pilot Amber aged on cacao nibs and infused with toasted marshmallows. “The only thing missing with this beer is a nice campfire,” 12 Gates Head Brewer Scott Shuler says. “The chocolate notes are offset with sweet and toasty notes from the toasted marshmallows.” Special: $6.99 Cherry Vanilla Wheat 6-packs.

Dec. 2 brings Wassail Blonde, Barbaric Blonde treated with homemade wassail (oranges, cloves, brandy, cinnamon, ginger, and cider). “We brought this beer back from 2016 and 2017’s 12 Gates of Christmas,” Shuler adds. “This beer is smooth, spicy, with a nice apple finish.” Special: 25% off ¼ Zip Sweatshirt.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Habanero Porter follows on Dec. 3. “This special pilot batch is about sugar, and spice, and everything spicy,” Shuler says. “The English Porter carries the weight of the brown sugar and cinnamon while the roasted habaneros subtly create heat on the back of the throat.” Special: $25 Gift Card for $20.

Christmas Six Shooter IPA is up next on Dec. 4, a variant of Dan Bean’s Six Shooter IPA. “After fermentation Christmas spices and dry hops are added to create a unique experience. Look for a malty backbone, spices, and earthy hops.” Special: 25% off Tin Tackers.

Pumpkin Pie Blonde, Yoga Pants American Blonde aged on cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, fresh ginger, and nutmeg, hits tap on Dec. 5. “This beer drinks like a nice slice of pumpkin pie,” Shuler says. Special: $6.99 Coffee Porter 6-packs.

Fruitcake Amber, Amber Ale aged on raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted walnuts, releases on Dec. 6. “Who doesn’t love fruitcake? Well this beer will give you the experiencing a drinkable fruitcake.” Special: $5 off Grey Zip Sweatshirt.

Dec. 7 brings Italian Grape Ale, 12 Gates’ German Pilsner conditioned with grape must. “An additional splash of grape must is added after lagering to give you the best of wine and beer. The beer is hazy and purple and perfect for a December afternoon.” Special: $50 Gift Card for $40.

Eggnog Stout (on Nitro) comes out on Dec. 8, an American stout conditioned on eggnog, and then poured through the nitro faucet. “The result is a very unique, creamy, roasty, and smooth egg nog concoction.” Special: $6.99 West Coast Style IPA 6-packs.

Then, on Dec. 9, Weihnachten Berliner Weisse, makes its presence known. “Our Christmas “Weihnachten” sour is aged on cranberries and mangoes to put you in the festive spirit. Look for tart and fruity notes with a crisp finish.” Special: $5 off Black Sweatshirts.

Nutcracker Sweet Brown Ale debuts on Dec. 10. “We roast our own grains and pecans and then throw them into the mash to create a sweet and nutty beer. Even the Nutcracker would enjoy a pint or two.” Special: 25% off all kegs.

Dec. 11 brings the release of Chocolate and Orange Peel Porter. “Starting with our base English Porter we age cacao nibs, cocoa, and blood orange peels until we hit the sweet blend that balances the porter. Perfect for a cold winter’s night.” Special: 25% Ornaments.

Finally, after a long 12 days of beer releases, Grave Concerns 2018 drops on Dec. 12. “As we turn three years old on the 12th, we celebrate with our annual release of our Grave Concerns,” Shuler says. “This year’s version comes in at 12% (go figure). Look for notes of vanilla, cacao, coffee, and ancho chilies.” For Grave Concerns, 12 Gates will hold a limited bottle release (100 22oz. bottles, $12, limit 2 per person) along with a special keg tapping at 12:12PM. Special: $25 Cases.

Along with the release of this year’s Grave Concerns vintage, 12 Gates’ Third Anniversary Party will also feature live music from Julian Burgio (12-2pm), Murphy’s Law (4-7pm) and Box of Wine (8-11pm).

For more information on the 12 Gates of Christmas, click here, and for more information on 12 Gates’ Third Anniversary Party, click here.

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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Drinking Through Time with Resurgence Brewing’s Imperial Sponge Candy Stout

If you’re going to plan and properly execute a five-year beer vertical, you need to choose the right beer and the right beer style. You need a bigger, higher alcohol beer that will stand up to aging (depending on how many years you’re looking to cover), which is where Resurgence Brewing’s Imperial Sponge Candy Stout and its 10% ABV come in. When Resurgence dropped the first vintage of this beer back in 2014, I immediately planned a five-year vertical. Then, the next year, the brewery released the first year of Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Sponge Candy Stout, so of course I had to buy and age those bottles as well.

Fast forward to 2018, and I was finally able to see my plan come to fruition with a pair of huge verticals, 2014-2018 Imperial Sponge Candy Stout and 2015-2018 BBA Imperial Sponge Candy Stout. And with our powers combined, fellow Buffalo Beer League founder Scott McMillan and members Jesse Walters, Mark Jowett and Jill Campbell, along with Resurgence Owner Jeff Ware, we hunkered down at a table inside Resurgence on a cold, snowy night to drink way too many imperial stouts to remember. Thank god for my wife keeping tasting notes and Scott Panfil and the WNY Brews podcast recording the whole thing. Oh yeah, that happened, so keep an eye out for that podcast soon.

Each armed with a microphone (why Scott thought that was a good idea is still beyond me), we started with the 2014 Imperial Sponge Candy, and moved on from there. It opened with aromas of rich, dark chocolate (a running theme for these beers you’ll find), and featured notes of raisins, booze, figs and dark fruit. It was a bit thin, but featured enough of a coating mouthfeel to be enjoyable. The 2015 vintage was much sweeter with notes of vanilla cream, toasted marshmallow, sweet cocoa powder and a bigger mouthfeel than the 2014. 2016’s version offered a thicker head and better retention, with a thin body similar to the 2014. Notes of plum and fig, subtle raspberry and lots of chocolate led to a creamy finish. Moving onto the 2017, it imparted vanilla and a cherry cordial nose, with a spicy alcohol burn and bitter chocolate feel. Finally, the 2018 vintage was straight chocolate and perhaps the most well rounded of the vertical.

As we took a break from the festivities for a much-deserved pint of water, we discussed which versions we thought stood out. Our consensus was that the ’15 and ’17 were the best of the bunch with some other votes going to the ’16 and the ’18.

Here are our breakdowns:

Brian – 17, 15, 18, 16, 14
Scott P. – 17, 15, 16, 18, 14
Jesse – 15, 16, 18, 17, 14
Scott M. – 17, 15, 16, 18, 14
Jeff –15, 18, 17, 14, 16
Mark – 15, 17, 16, 14, 18
Jill – 17, 15, 18, 16, 14

After enough water to cycle out the first round of the imperials, we embarked down a darker path with the Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Sponge Candy Stouts. As we did with the imperials, we started with the oldest, being the 2015, which was aged in Breckenridge Distilling bourbon barrels. It opened with aromas of sweet booze, before flavors of chocolate, vanilla and oak took hold. The finish was great with lot of warming alcohol. The 2016, aged in Woodford Reserve barrels, again opened with booze, with some dark fruit mixed in. According to Jesse, this beer was ‘more angular and sharp.’ It featured bitter chocolate and a very boozy finish. 2017, aged in Jim Beam barrels, had a dark red cherry wine note to it, with more intense bourbon and barrel flavors – vanilla, char, cherry, oak, and dark fruit. And finishing off this half of the vertical was the 2018, which was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. Lot of complexity to this vintage, with sharp flavors of big dark chocolate, oak, and vanilla. It was smooth and a little sweeter than past years. We all agreed it should age pretty well.

After some discussion, we all decided that the ’15 and ’18 were the strongest, with some votes registered for the ’16.

Here are our breakdowns:

Brian – 15, 18, 17, 16
Scott P. – 18, 16, 15, 17
Jesse – 15, 18, 17, 16
Scott M. – 15, 18, 17, 16
Jeff – 15, 18, 16, 17
Mark – 18, 16, 17, 15
Jill – 15, 17, 18, 16

And, as if five imperial stouts and four more bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts weren’t enough, we thought it was a good idea to add in the 2017 and 2018 Imperial Milk Stout (thanks Mark and Jeff) for good measure. The ’17 was super smooth, like silk going down your throat. The lactose rounded out the mouthfeel nicely. 2018 was velvety soft with notes of smooth dark chocolate and a clean, creamy finish.

We capped the night off with countless baskets of soft pretzels and stuffed pepper queso dip, so it’s easy to say this was a truly special experience. The beer, the people, the atmosphere, everything was simply tremendous. The first time we ever had Sponge Candy Stout, it was one of Jeff’s homebrews, and we drank it in an empty building that didn’t yet have a floor. To think of how far we’ve come with these verticals is incredible, and pretty awe-inspiring. Thank you Jeff, thank you Resurgence, for everything – the beer, the friendship, the memories. Thank you so much.

First, it was a 2013-2018 vertical of Southern Tier Brewing’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale, then it was these Imperial and BBA Imperial Sponge Candy Stouts. So, what’s next? Maybe Big Ditch’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Towpath Imperial Stout. Maybe their Bidwell Wild Ale. I’d love to do Community Beer Works’ Heat Rays Barleywine or The Snow Imperial Stout. Who knows – I’m open to suggestions.

You can purchase bottles of Resurgence’s 2018 Imperial Sponge Candy Stout and Milk Stout as well as the 2018 Bourbon Barrel Aged Sponge Candy Stout right now at the brewery.

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: Buffalo Cask Fest, 12 Gates of Christmas, Thin Man / Aslin’s Keytar Bears, Santa’s of Swig Homebrew Fundraiser

Buffalo Cask Fest at Mr. Goodbar Returns for Another Year

Buffalo Cask Festival at Mr. Goodbar returns for its 11th year, December 7-9. The annual event officially gets underway with the VIP Local Brewers Night on Dec. 6 ($25, 7pm), an intimate gathering featuring a number of specialty casks from all-local breweries, such as Flying Bison, Community Beer Works, Thin Man, Old First Ward Brewing, Resurgence and 12 Gates. Tickets are now on sale – purchase pre-sale ticket sheets worth $20 of cask beer good during the duration of Cask Fest for $15 or purchase a ticket to the VIP Local Brewers Night and a presale ticket sheet for only $35.

12 Gates Brews Up The 12 Gates of Christmas

12 Gates Brewing are bringing back the 12 Gates of Christmas, a 12-day stretch where they will release a new beer daily. Starting December 1, 12 Gates will release Hot Chocolate Amber, then Wassail Blonde (Dec. 2), Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Habanero Porter (Dec. 3), Christmas Six Shooter IPA (Dec. 4), Pumpkin Pie Blonde (Dec. 5), Fruitcake Amber (Dec. 6), Italian Grape Ale (Dec. 7), Eggnog Stout (on Nitro) (Dec. 8), Weihnachten Berliner Weisse (Dec. 9), Nutcracker Sweet Brown Ale (Dec. 10), Chocolate and Orange Peel Porter (Dec. 11) and Grave Concerns (Dec. 12). Try them all for a free t-shirt.

Thin Man, Virginia’s Aslin Beer Company Team on New Sour Ale

Thin Man Brewery and Aslin Beer Company of Herndon, Virginia have collaborated on the funkily titled Keytar Bears, a sour brewed with strawberries, pineapple, marshmallow, vanilla and milk sugar, which creates ‘a cosmic, tart, rainbow sherbet surprise.’ Thin Man will also be tapping a number of Aslin beers for the release – Astro Zombie New England IPA, Master of Oranges DDH IPA, Syrtaki Imperial Stout, Chirp Creamsicle IPA and Glamping Imperial Stout. Cans and draft will be released December 1 (11am). Bottles of Thin Man’s DBA Ookla The Mok Imperial Porter and BBA Forever Cordial Imperial Stout also still available.

Santa’s of Swig Fundraiser Brews Up Homebrew for a Good Cause

The Fourth Annual Santa’s of Swig Fundraiser, presented by the Sultans of Swig Homebrew Club and Santa’s of Swig, which raises money for the Matt Urban Hope Center, takes place December 1 (1pm) at Buffalo Iron Works. A $20 donation buys samples of over 20 beers made by local homebrewers. Vote for your favorite with the winner receiving prizes. Local brewery baskets will be raffled off (donations of unwrapped toys gets you $10 in tickets). Tickets at the door and can be purchased online. The event has raised over $7,000 for Matt Urban, while collecting over 500 new unwrapped toys.

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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Lakeward Spirits to Release Buffalo’s First Spiced Rum on Black Friday Weekend

Lakeward Spirits craft distillery will be releasing their new Fathoms Below Spiced Rum starting on Black Friday weekend at their production facility at The Barrel Factory, 65 Vandalia St. in Buffalo, just in time for the holidays.

Fathoms Below is the Buffalo area’s first locally-produced spiced rum. It is infused with eight spices and finished on custom-charred American Oak. The spiced rum is 90 proof / 45% ABV.

The spiced rum will be available in Lakeward Spirits’ tasting room and factory store starting at their Black Friday Weekend sales event on Friday and Saturday (12-11pm), and on Sunday (12-8pm). Their “Made in Buffalo” liquors, gift baskets, and other products will be showcased at the holiday sale. The distillery is also offering a free $10 gift certificate to customers toward a regular bottle of their vodka, gins, or rums; or toward a holiday gift basket. The gift certificate and more information are available here:   http://www.barrelfactory.com/free-10-holiday-gift-certificate.html.

About Fathoms Below Spiced Rum:

“Since 1793, captains have reported sightings of a serpent-like creature moving beneath the waves of Lake Erie.  Mysterious and distinctive, this leviathan seemed the perfect inspiration for Fathoms Below.

Our Spiced Rum is vapor-infused with a 8-spice blend and aged on custom charred American White Oak.  Aromas of cinnamon, toffee, and candied ginger blend perfectly with smooth vanilla tones pulled from the wood.

Surprisingly dry and complex; Fathoms Below is a unique substitute for a snifter of bourbon, or the perfect addition to a nautical cocktail.

​Proudly distilled and bottled from scratch by Lakeward Spirits, 65 Vandalia St., Buffalo, NY.”

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West Coast Hops Meet East Coast Splendor: A Look Back at Pressure Drop Brewing’s First Year

Pressure Drop Brewing, one of Western New York’s newest breweries that can be found nestled inside Lakeward Spirits inside Old First Ward’s historic Barrel Factory, will mark their first anniversary on Thanksgiving Eve, November 21. Helmed by Head Brewer Karl Kolbe, a Buffalo native (Tonawanda to be exact) who cut his teeth as a member of the brew team at California’s vaunted Knee Deep Brewing, along with cousin and COO Lexi Craine, have spent the last year mostly bucking beer trends with hoppy and filtered West Coast-style brews.

Looking back, Kolbe says that his first year with Pressure Drop has been somewhat of a whirlwind. “It’s all kind of a blur; lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of lefts and lots of rights,” he says. “We were shown tons of love, which makes it all worthwhile. But we’re still developing ourselves as a brand. There are still a lot of people in Western New York that don’t even know we exist. We’re still building a following. Barrel Factory has been a great home for us, especially now with Bar Cultivar set to open soon. I’m looking forward to having them in the building.”

“I think that we came out of the gates strong, stronger than I expected to at least. Partnering with Try-It Distributing was huge for us. Getting to know the Buffalo beer scene better was huge too, because coming from the West Coast, it’s a totally different market. We wondered, how would these hoppy, clear, West Coast IPA’s do around here? The answer is, they’re doing pretty well. People are into them. I have beers that I started brewing years ago that I am still in love with. And if people are appreciating them too, that makes me so happy.”

Mark Jowett and Karl Kolbe

He adds that most of his favorite memories from this past year stem from collaborations he has brewed with fellow WNY breweries. “One thing I’m really proud of is being embraced by the local community in our first year. We banged out collabs with Thin Man Brewery, Community Beer Works, Big Ditch Brewing, West Shore Brewing, Old First Ward Brewing and have another one coming with Resurgence. I’m looking forward to that collab, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s gonna be Amarillo, Citra, Nelson Sauvin, English Ale yeast, flaked malt, malted oats. It should be chewy as hell.”

Over their first 365 days, you could say that Kolbe has been busy in the brewhouse. They held a number of can releases, including most of their flagships – Sticky Trees IPA, Strummer Belgian Blonde Ale, Citra Screamer Cream Ale and Buckstar Coffee Cream Porter, as well as a number of collaborations – Aqua Buddha Double IPA (Big Ditch), Knives Out Session IPA (CBW), Dog Birthday Party Graham Cracker Stout (Thin Man) and Dank Sinatra New England IPA (Knee Deep Brewing). They’ve also collaborated with West Shore (Sketchy IPA, Hella Sketchy DIPA), Old First Ward (Knee Socks Double IPA) and Thin Man again (Night Terrors NEIPA, Panic Attacks IPA).

Sticky Trees IPA

“That’s one of my favorite things from our first year. I kind of knew Jeff [Ware, Resurgence], but now I really know Jeff. I knew Rudy [Watkins, Thin Man], but now we’re homies. Bryan [Kirchmyer, OFW] is like my little brother. I love him to death. I barely knew [Scott] Shuler [12 Gates Brewing], but I know him pretty well now. He’s a good egg. Chris Herr [Pearl Street family of breweries] is such a gangster. I can’t say enough about everybody I have dealt with and how rad they have been. I got a letter, which was actually typed on a typewriter, from Ethan [Cox] at CBW, thanking me for my work on Knives Out. Do you know how good that makes you feel? I love the positivity here. To see this city a year ago as opposed to what it was 13 years ago when I was first here is mind-blowing to me. And to see the city now, with all of the new stuff – Buffalo Cider Hall, Thin Man’s Chandler expansion, Barrel + Brine, Misuta Chows – is every more mind-blowing to me. To see all of the other creative energies in this city going on, and all of the positivity is mind-blowing.”

When it comes to his favorite Pressure Drop beers over their first year, his answer was quick and simply put – Sticky Trees IPA – among a few others of course. Because, like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t have just one favorite.

“Sticky Trees for sure,” he says. “I can still go up to the bar any day and say, ‘fuck yeah, give me a Sticky Trees. I’ve always loved Buckstar. It’s always been one of my favorites. I’ve been brewing that beer for years. But I do love the stuff that is really out there, weird and different – I’m still a sucker for Blackalicious [Belgian Imperial Stout].  It’s about to click a year old and that beer is getting better and better and better. Dank Sinatra – I love that beer because it inspires a conversation. But, I can go back to Sticky Trees every single day and I’m never disappointed in it.”

As is customary in Buffalo, or anywhere for that matter, Pressure Drop is celebrating their first year on Nov. 21 (6-9pm) by opening up their brewhouse for a party. Your ticket gets you a limited edition printed glass, two drinks (cash bar afterwards), food from Buffalo’s Best Cucina and an all-access pass to the brewery. In honor of the event, Pressure Drop are tapping a special anniversary beer, a hazy double IPA version of Sticky Trees brewed with London Ale III yeast, as well as Counterclockwise, an English-style pale ale (“notes of citrus and pine,” according to Kolbe). Tickets ($28) can be purchased at Eventbrite.

“It’s gonna have a ton of body,” Kolbe says of the anniversary beer. “It’s all-Mosaic hopped and will be a lot of fun. We’re only going to have five gallons of this beer. It’s something that I have never tried before. It’s a totally different grain bill than I have ever used before and I’ve only used London III maybe 10 times ever, so hopefully it will taste really good.”

Citra Screamer Cream Ale

Of Counterclockwise Kolbe adds, “it’s all Cascade and some Centennial, and the Cascade that we used in this beer has a really nice spice note to it. It’s a very winter pale ale, but it finishes real crisp and real light.”

Looking forward, Kolbe says that he and Pressure Drop are going to just keep doing what they have been doing – which is decidedly their own thing. One thing is for sure though Kolbe says, there is a hell of a lot more beer coming. And fun beer at that.

“My goal is to push the envelope and make things fucking rad. There’s a lot more fun beer in the pipeline. I’m looking forward to more people just getting to know who we are. More people experiencing who we are and what we do. We’re just trying to have fun – bring something different and put our own little spin on things. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. In this business, if you’re not having fun at the end of the day, you’re doing something seriously wrong.”

For more information, please visit https://www.pressuredropbrewers.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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Buffalo Beer Buzz: Pearl Street Celebrates the Sabres, Pressure Drop Turns 1, Big Ditch’s Third Annual Stoutsgiving, Thin Man Black Friday Release

Pearl Street Brewery Unveils a Pair of Sabres-Inspired Brews

Thanks to the play of rookie Rasmus Dahlin, winger Jeff Skinner and goaltenders Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark, the Buffalo Sabres have won five straight and sit third in the Atlantic Division. Pearl Street is celebrating their resurgence with a pair of beers inspired by our hometown team, Lord Stanley Scotch Ale and Captain Jack, their 21st Anniversary Imperial Lager, named in honor of our own captain, Jack Eichel. Lord Stanley is a full-bodied Wee Heavy-style Scotch Ale, while Captain Jack is a robust 8.2% ABV and dry hopped with Citra hops. Both are on tap now at Pearl Street.

Pressure Drop to Party in the Brewhouse to Celebrate First Anniversary

Pressure Drop Brewing, one of Buffalo’s newest breweries inside Lakeward Spirits at the Barrel Factory, is celebrating their first year on November 21 (6-9pm) by opening up their brewhouse for a party. Your ticket gets you a limited edition printed glass, two drinks (cash bar afterwards), food from Buffalo’s Best Cucina and an all-access pass to the brewery. In honor of the event, Pressure Drop are tapping a special anniversary beer, a hazy double IPA version of Sticky Trees brewed with London Ale III yeast, as well as Counterclockwise, an English-style pale ale. Tickets ($28) can be purchased at Eventbrite.

Big Ditch Puts Stouts in the Spotlight at the Third Annual Stoutsgiving

Kick start your Thanksgiving Eve with 13 stouts at Big Ditch’s Stoutsgiving (11am), which will feature the release of Bourbon Barrel Aged and non-BBA 2018 Towpath, Big Ditch’s signature imperial stout, as well as The Detour Series, four variants of BBA Towpath, including Stoutsgiving Pumpkin Pie, Raspberry Truffle, Coconut Cream and Vanilla Latte. Also available are BBA Towpath (2016, 2017), non-BBA Towpath (2016, ’17, ’18), Devin’s Robust Porter, Dave’s Dry Stout and casks of Blackberry Make Me Wanna Stout and Chocolate Milk Stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, and chipotle pepper. Bottles of the Detour Series and 2018 BBA Towpath available.

Thin Man to Release Bourbon Barrel Aged Forever Cordial Imperial Stout

Skip the long lines, fistfights and endless aggravation of traditional Black Friday shopping and instead head down to Elmwood’s Thin Man Brewery for the release of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Forever Cordial Imperial Stout, a collaboration with Florida’s 3 Sons Brewing Co., November 23 (11am). Bottles of the massive 14.5% bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, which was brewed with black cherries and cacao nibs, will run $20. In addition, Thin Man will be selling bottles of their Double Barrel Aged Ookla The Mok Imperial Porter for $15 and Ookla Gold Foil Teku glasses for $20 (buy the combo for $30).

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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Three’s a Charm: Make It Three Years for Lockport’s New York Beer Project

Lockport’s first post-Prohibition brewery, New York Beer Project, is set to mark three years since they first opened their doors, and what a three years it has been for Western New York’s ‘Destination Brewery.’

From raising over $16,000 for Oishei Children’s Hospital through their partnership with Perry’s Ice Cream (18 months and counting), a collaborative effort that has spawned Panda Paws Porter and fan favorite White Christmas, which sold out in four weeks last year, to donating a portion of sales of their Walter’s Jelly Donut Raspberry Kolsch to the American Cancer Society of WNY in October, NYBP has long used their beer to give back.

It’s that strong sense of community that has allowed New York Beer Project to not only continue to succeed, but to expand. They are currently in the process of constructing a second facility up the road in Victor, NY. That communal support keeps the brewery thriving according to Owner Kelly Krupski, who says the people themselves are one of her major highlight of this past year.

“Among my 2018 highlights is the overwhelming response from our supporters,” she says. “It’s humbling and we never take that for granted.”

She adds that they would have never imagined being on the verge of opening a second location, but that they have learned so much since opening their doors just three short years ago.

Head Brewer Jason Crossett

“What a crazy, exciting, inspiring journey these past three years have been. If you had told us back when we opened [that] we’d be building a second location, almost as big as the first, I’d say you were nuts -but here we are, serving record breaking crowds, and about to open our amazing new NYBP Beer Hall in Victor! We’ve learned so much since we opened the doors on November 19, 2015. Most times the learning curve wasn’t at an easy angle – we’re talking 180 degrees straight up – don’t look down – hold on tight – holy shit, but it’s been an exciting ride, one we wouldn’t give up for anything.”

Head Brewer Jason Crossett shares in her excitement, adding that the brewery’s success has allowed him to increase his brewing team. “This past year has been great!” he says. “We’ve added another talented brewer to our team, Ben Elford, giving us three amazing brewers! (Greg Zorn and Pat Bradley are the other two on our team).”

To date, NYBP has brewed over 150 unique beers, including over 50 in the past year alone. Krupski says that number is a sheer testament to the talent and work ethic of Crossett and NYBP’s team of brewers.

“We’re extremely proud of our craft portfolio. We came out with over 50 unique styles and combinations of unique variations of local hops and ingredients this year alone,” Krupski says. “Most of them are only available at our Lockport location, and soon to be Victor. That’s a testament to Head Brewer Jason Crossett and his fantastically creative brewing team.”

Those beers include NYBP flagships such as Destination IPA, Righteous Dude Double IPA, Lockport Lager, Gameday Wit and Supernatural Sour, as well as more experimental offerings like The One New England IPA, Carrot Cake Ale and Red Velvet Cake Ale. Among all of those beers, a few have stood out to Crossett from the past year, including HammuRYEbi’s Code, a barrel aged rye in Black Button Rye Whiskey barrels, a collaboration brew with Ontario’s Royal City, Mason’s Honey Blond, Hard Day’s Night American Porter (“a perfect balance of roast, dark chocolate, and coffee with a light caramel sweetness,” Crossett says. “Reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald”), Ben’s West Coast Destination and Greg’s Righteous Cousin Vinnie (“both great representations of a West Coast-style IPA), and Righteous Dudette Triple IPA.

Looking back at 2017, a handful of memories stick with Crossett, including brewing collaboration beers with Royal City and Cowbell for the Can AM Beer Festival. “Although the actual event ultimately fell through, it did give me an opportunity to get to know the brewers at each brewery and create long lasting friendships. Truly awesome people making great beer!”

“Mixology sessions with Scott Donovan and crew at Blackbird [Cider Works] to come up with a beer/cider hybrid, which we released this past September (Snakebite),” he continues. “We blended our Gameday Wit with his Estate Cider to create a beautifully tasty beverage.” Hosting the Brewer’s Invitational – “it was great to have all the other WNY breweries in house showcasing the amazing beers they make.” Working with Jason Evchich and his foundation, Mason’s Mission, in crafting a beer (Mason’s Honey Blonde Ale) to help raise money for his foundation. “I’ve gotten to know him a lot over this past year and to meet his wife and family. I definitely gained a great friend from this,” and brewing Class is in Session IPA with all the other WNY breweries for Buffalo Beer Week.

NYBP’s future location in Victor

In terms of the future, it’s pretty easy to know what both Krupski and Crossett are looking forward to – their new Victor location. For Crossett, it’s about both locations collaborating on beers.

“I’m looking forward to both breweries collaborating on beers and I’d love to see some blending of barrel aged beers from both locations,” he says. “It certainly would be a lot of fun with the potential for making some amazing unique beers!”

“We just launched our new NYBP Victor Facebook page, where every day you’ll find a treasure trove of information and education on this amazing facility that explores New York State brewing history and recreates the opulent Atlantic Garden Beer Hall, circa 1871. The FB page will also be the place to get insider information on all the exciting announcements, such as the reveal of the new NYBP Victor head brewer, our creative new Executive chef relocating from a well-known vacation destination, as well as the opening lineup of craft we will have for thirsty Western New Yorkers. [All of the] grand opening deets can be found here as well,” Krupski adds. Follow NYBP Victor Beer Hall at www.facebook.com/NYBPVictorBeerHall.

While New York Beer Project officially turns three on November 19, they are celebrating the day before, where they will be releasing four Imperial Stouts, each with a different yeast strain (limited release only, 5 gallons each). “We brewed a 10.25 % Imperial Stout that we are going to age in bourbon barrels. We had a lot of residual sugars left over with making that beer that we rinsed the grains again and collected 25 gallons of wort. Each brewer chose a different yeast strain to ferment with and aged with different ingredients to yield four different stouts,” Crossett says.

The four beers include version’s fermented with NYBP’s house lager strain aged on chai tea, fermented with a Belgian Stout strain aged on sweet cherries, fermented with a Farmhouse strain aged on maple syrup and oak chips and fermented with an American Ale strain aged on cacao nibs (“blending this with the cherry aged version is tasty!” Crossett adds).

Things gets underway at 10am with an anniversary brunch (complimentary champagne toast), then crowlers of Righteous Dudette Triple IPA go on sale at 2pm (first 10 people receive souvenir Righteous Dudette poster) and White Christmas Belgian Ale returns at 5pm ($1 from every pint donated to Oishei’s). Also, from 2-5pm, purchase an Anniversary Teku Glass and receive complimentary tastings of four variations of Imperial Stout. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/1942266459187026/.

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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