First and foremost, my sincerest apologies if you missed this year’s Buffalo Brewers Festival. While I have been a part of every one since its inception, I can honestly say that this was by far the best this festival has been, thanks in part to the fantastic weather (one of the first years it didn’t rain) as well as a new partnership between the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association and the New York State Brewers Association. And it’s because of that partnership that the sixth annual Buffalo Brewers Festival featured its best beer list yet.
Before I go any further, congratulations are in order for Windy Brew and New York Beer Project, who tied for the Second Annual Buffalo Brewers Festival People’s Choice Competition trophy for their Super Hero Sour and Blackberry/Lime Wild About Sour, respectively. The beers beat out a number of very worthy entries from over a dozen other breweries to take home the coveted prize. This year’s People’s Choice Awards were for Local Fruited Sour, which only added to the awesomeness of this festival. Additionally, Queen’s Finback Brewery took home the inaugural People’s Choice Overall Award for their Smooth Beats Miami Coconut IPA (a collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing). Thank you to everyone who tried one of these beers and thank you for voting as well.
There was so much great beer available, that, try as I may, I could not make it to every brewery and every beer I wanted to try. I did my best, while still being responsible. As I usually do, I kept notes and a list of my favorites so I can share them all with you, so without further ado, let me do that. Predictably, this list is dominated by sours, but it’s more than that. In all honesty, I was quite happy my palate wasn’t wrecked after a few beers.
Brickyard Brewing Tender Situations Cherry Guava Sour: While White Bronco is normally a mainstay of these types of lists, it’s Brickyard’s Tender Situations Cherry Guava Sour that makes the cut this time. While Bronco was truly wonderful at the fest, I was refreshed by this sour. I’m a sucker for anything guava, but the tart cherry was the star here.
Brown’s Brewing Solera Oak Aged Sour Ale: I quite enjoyed everything Brown’s was pouring, but Solera, a blend of oak aged sour ale with Pinot Grigio grape juice, took the cake. Beautiful notes of oak with tart grape juice to round it out. I’d love to have another crack at this beer.
Crossroads Brewing Golden Spear Sour: Wonderful puckering sensation with an overwhelming mouthfeel. Tart lemon and lime with a certain effervescent finish. I’d love to have a bottle of this and age it for a few years. I’m salivating over here.
Froth Brewing Mango Peach OG Sour: I was so happy that this was the first sour I had on the day. Reminiscent of The Answer’s Popsicle series with massive flavors of fleshy and juicy mango and peach and toasted coconut that literally jumped out of the glass at me. I hope to get some more of this soon.
Pressure Drop Brewing Beyond Neptune Plum/Apricot Sour: I was a fan of Can Confirm (guava/lime), Pressure Drop’s collab sour with 12 Gates Brewing, and Beyond Neptune is another nice take on the style. Unlike those I spoke with at the fest, I got a lot of apricot forward flavors (most everyone noted the plum instead). I’ll be seeking out some cans of this soon.
Prison City Pub & Brewery Wham Whams Imperial Stout with Toasted Coconut and Vanilla Beans: Everything Prison City poured – DDH Mass Riot, Roosh Bomb and Old Gaol – could and should have made this list, but the Wham Whams stood out the most. Prominent notes of chocolate and coconut with vanilla and booze. A boozy Almond Joy.
K2 Brothers Brewing Orange Pineapple Passionfruit Sour: Another Answer comparison – this time to their 3 Scoops series. Notes of orange, pineapple and passionfruit all popped immensely. The Black Currant and Passionfruit Sour IPA was also special. Looks like a trip up to Rochester is in order, and fast.
New York Beer Project Moscow Mule Gose: Plain and simple, this tasted just like a Moscow Mule cocktail. There’s a reason that NYBP won a share of the second annual People’s Choice Awards for their sour beer – well this and their Super Hero Sour, which is a damn fine beer in its own right.
Old First Ward Brewing Chill Kellerbier: How about this? A kellerbier amongst a list brimming with imperial stouts, sours and a barrel aged barleywine. Kellerbier is currently my favorite style of beer, and this is yet another quality take on a traditional beer style by the fine folks at Old First Ward Brewing. Chill was crisp, smooth and refreshing – a beer that looked and tasted like a beer. This was a great change of pace.
Wagner Valley Brewing Chardemagne Chardonnay/Gin Barrel Aged English Barleywine: One of the absolute best beers I had at the festival. I literally told a dozen people about this beer. Faint notes of berry, booze, oak, caramel and oh so much more. I had to be responsible so I restrained myself from going back for a second pour, though I now regret this decision as I type this.
Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and came out to enjoy Buffalo’s waterfront with some great beer. Thank you for making this possible and thank you for making the sixth annual Buffalo Brewers Festival the very best one yet. Thank you to all of the awesome, kick ass brewers from across New York State who came to Canalside to display their brews. And thank you to the NYSBA for making much of this possible. We will see you all in the fall for the tenth annual Buffalo Beer Week (September 13-22).
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 for Step Out Buffalo. 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) and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).