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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.