Buffalo, as a whole, is nothing if not a passionate city. From sports and music to food and, of course, beer, this town cares and it often cares deeply, which is why the beer scene here is not only thriving, it’s growing, and at a rather rapid pace. Even though the Buffalo-Niagara region is home to nearly 30 breweries already (with a handful more in planning and/or opening soon), there is still room to expand as Resurgence Brewing, Community Beer Works and Rusty Nickel are all set to grow in the very near future (42 North and Woodcock Brothers also have plans to expand down the line). And what better day to celebrate all of this than on 716 Day, aka July 16, the most Buffalo of all Buffalo holidays.
I am constantly inspired by this beer scene; there is great beer being released on a weekly basis, but beyond that, it’s the people and the friendships that truly inspire me. For me, beer is a profession, a hobby and a true passion – it’s why I write the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz, run this beer blog and it’s why I helped found the Buffalo Beer League years ago. Therefore, it seemed to me that 716 Day would be as good a day as any to reflect.
Two of the questions I’m asked most are, can the Buffalo beer scene support all of this growth? Is the craft beer bubble about to burst? I personally believe it can, to a point obviously, but don’t take my word for it, I’m just a pie-in-the-sky beer blogger who loves this city. Take it straight from the horse’s mouth – from the very people who keep the lights of this beer scene on.
Flying Bison Brewing Company owner Tim Herzog, the man many credit with giving Buffalo beer its groove back, believes there is room for everyone in our beer scene to grow and get their slice of the proverbial pie and thinks it’s as simple as just drinking more local beer.
“If Western New Yorkers put down their (insert major international brand here), or latest, coolest rated beer that you can’t find, and pick up locally brewed craft beer, then there is room for more growth,” Herzog says. “It’s up to consumer preference at this point. The variety of beers brewed and concept of each brewery in Buffalo are among the best around. If you want it; it’s here.”
Big Ditch Brewing President Matt Kahn says that the strength of our beer scene and its ability to adapt to constantly changing trends is the breweries themselves, who strive and succeed in offering a different experience to customers. Like a snowflake, no two are exactly the same, which is why the potential for growth is possible.
“We have many independent breweries, but each has a very different feel,” he says. “Community Beer Works doesn’t feel anything like Resurgence or Flying Bison, which is wide open and very relaxed, which doesn’t feel anything like Thin Man, or Pearl Street, or us, which definitely has more of a food component, or even Old First Ward Brewing, which is more like a classic pub. Also, each of these breweries brings a different feel to their beers, Resurgence more experimental, Flying Bison more classical, and others sort of in between. So, visiting Buffalo will give beer lovers a very diverse experience – but also a high quality experience, as the beer being made here now is maybe better than it has ever been in its history.”
Resurgence Brewing Owner Jeff Ware agrees, adding, “Not only do we have a rich brewing history here, we have a new vibrant brewing scene that is actively part of the resurgence of the city. Breweries are breathing life into long dormant neighborhoods across the region. It is a great time to explore the great things going on in these neighborhoods and catch a local pint in each one!”
Regardless of whether or not the bubble is about to burst or not, one thing is for sure – the Buffalo-Niagara beer scene is only set to grow in the coming months and years.
“Buffalo may be considered late to the game by some of the more recognized beer destinations, but we have the Buffalo Brew Pub, the oldest brewpub in New York State, hosted one of the earliest Craft Brewer Conferences in the country and our first homebrewer’s club was founded in 1987,” Herzog adds. “Buffalo has been quietly growing a beer culture for decades. The recent explosion of breweries might seem ‘late to the game,’ but this momentum has been building for some time.”
It’s never been clearer that we all need to do our part in sustaining this beer scene that we all know and love. It has never been more important to visit a local brewery and order a pint or two, ask for something local in your glass at your corner bar and stock your fridge with any number of great tasting, locally crafted beers. Happy 716 Day everyone, after you’re done putting in your hours at the office today, visit a brewery, hit a bar (Mr. Goodbar or Pizza Plant are good options), and order a fresh, cold pint of something local. Not only are you filling your glass with a delicious handcrafted brew, you’re also doing your part to keep the gears of the Buffalo beer scene turning. And for that I thank you. Cheers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.