A Love Letter to the Buffalo Beer Scene From a Soon-To-Be Ex-Pat

This is a love letter to Buffalo beer & all the people involved.
By: Justine Powers

Since graduating college in 2014, I’ve spent the past four years in and out of your favorite Buffalo watering holes. Seriously – I picked my first apartment in Elmwood Village because the closest bar was Blue Monk (which was the greatest beer bar of all time *change my mind*).  Oh, but before that I had recently started working at my hometown brewery, Hamburg Brewing Company.

Straight out of SUNY Cortland, and with literally no beer or bartending experience, I can’t thank the crew at HBC enough for giving me my first job in beer. I learned so much about beer (and probably more about life) from Scotty, and an insane amount about bartending from Mike. I also would spend at least 30 hours a week behind the bar with Nicole and I honestly don’t think we ever got in one argument. Seriously, #dreamteam and I would work a packed bar by her side any time.

I wouldn’t change one thing from my time there and seriously, thank you for introducing me to this awesome industry. Last, but not least, Scotty – thanks for always having a lighter & a smoke to share with my mom. Mike – I’m sure I’ll see you the next time I’m at The Grange.

When my time with Hamburg was up, I heard of a brewery opening in the brick road town of East Aurora, 42 North Brewing, so I figured, why not apply? I probably emailed them three times before anyone got back to me, but you’re supposed to just bug the people you want to hire you until they do, right? Regardless, I got my interview with my forever friends Clay & Freddie in September of 2015, right before leaving for Oktoberfest in Germany, and was hired when I returned.

The first day I ever worked at 42, I walked in and thought to myself, “okay nothing is done and this place looks like it’s never going to open,” which is when I found out we would be literally helping the place open. We painted, shoveled rocks, and three weeks later, it was go time. Pretty cool to be able to say, “I helped paint the place” for the past 3 years!

I still remember our first few times training and sitting around the big conference table in the “game room” and starting to get to know the people I would be spending the next few years with. Little did I know, those few years would be filled with closing late night dance parties, being convinced to go out for one more drink across the street at Rookies, and all of those shift beers spent over life discussions and laughs. (*Sings “shift beers” in Aaron’s voice in my head*).

To my day one crew – John, Kim, Aaron, Marshall, Hoxsie, Freddie, Matt, Clay, Naz – I’m not going to write that much, NOT BECAUSE I DON’T LOVE YOU, but because this thing is already turning out to be much longer then anticipated and I think Brian might kill me if I write 7 pages on that time John told Kim there was a birthday cake hidden in the boiler room and she looked for it for like 20 minutes. Or when John had to hose off all the Adirondack chairs because some punks egged the Biergarten.

To everyone I’ve met at 42 along the way – Cathy, thanks for showing me how to be a completely kickass #bossbabe. It has been a pleasure sitting next to you these past 2.5+ years at our giant desk combo.

Clay, Matt, Zack, Mario & the brewteam – thanks for providing the soundtrack to my office work and teaching me more than I ever thought I’d learn about beer. Zack – you will forever remain the smartest person I know. Also maybe the low key funniest. Clay – thanks for always talking music with me and forcing me to go to state parks to scout out event sites in the freezing rain. Matt – it was a pleasure spending 20 hours in the car listening to murder podcasts with you on the way to and from CBC this year. Also, I’m sorry I said you reminded me of Krieger from Archer the other day – just the evil genius tendencies I promise.

Fred – can I please come back and celeb bartend from time to time? Please say yes. Also, never delete my clock-in number because it’s the best. If someone tries to take it, I will freak out.

This is becoming way too long and I’m just going to end it here.

Whether you’re standing super close to the TV screen at Mr. Goodbar with your head tilted as far back as possible, or you’re being overwhelmed with bottle possibilities at Aurora Brew Works, do me a favor and take a second to look around and appreciate where you are. Buffalo Beer 4 Ever.

If you made it to the end of this painfully long goodbye note, congratulations. Also, you’re welcome because I trimmed it down from like 2000 words to what it is now.

One last “thank you” to Brian Campbell for everything! Buffalo beer is much better because of you & the Buffalo Beer League. I promise to keep sending witty press releases from New York City.

I’m also bringing 2 cases of Asylum Porter cans with me, which will probably last, two weeks? We’ll see.

Anyway…love you all & see you over a beer sometime soon. Bye!

I ALMOST FORGOT! My last time behind the concrete (aka bartending) at 42 North is Friday, August 31st until close. Come see me and the OG 42N crew tear it up and have a dance party until the next time.

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