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Beer Matters: Big Ditch and Great Lakes collaboration, Pizza Plant stouts

“Great Big Steve” Collaboration Tap Parties

Two breweries located on opposite ends of Lake Erie have joined forces to brew a big malty beer. Great Lakes Brewing Company from Cleveland teamed up with Buffalo’s Big Ditch Brewing Company. The resultant beer, called “Great Big Steve,” will be served at numerous are tap rooms and bars over the next week.

Big Ditch_Great Big Steve

Great Big Steve is now on tap at Big Ditch Brewing Company. (Kevin Wise/Special to the News)

So what prompted a collaboration between Great Lakes and Big Ditch?

“We reached out to Big Ditch to see if they would be interested. We wanted to do a collaboration with them because of the great beer they make! We felt that their commitment to quality, consistency and balance resembled what we do at Great Lakes. Once all parties were on board it was just scheduling and putting it all together,” said Nate Root, field sales representative for Great Lakes Brewing in Buffalo.

Matt Kahn, co-founder and president of Big Ditch, commented on the thought process used to create Great Big Steve:

“We at Big Ditch especially appreciate the malt character of Great Lakes beers, so we were looking to do something malt-forward. With the timing of the season, it seemed like something in the bock family made sense. We sought to kick out a nice, clean, malt-forward beer.

"We're calling this beer a doppelbock-hybrid ale because although were aiming for about 7 percent the beer reached 7.5 percent. Great Big Steve was also brewed with, among other things, house smoked malt from New York Craft Malt as well as spelt from Haus Malts in Ohio,” said Kahn.

Where did the name Great Big Steve come from?

“Great Big Steve is named after Grover Cleveland, former Buffalo mayor, and our 22nd (and 24th) president. Grover Cleveland was known as ‘Big Steve,’ and was also known as the least healthiest president, because of his penchant for beer drinking and cigar smoking. We thought including the smoked malt was a slight nod to the cigar smoking,” said Kahn.

A Great Big Steve collaboration tap party will be happening at the following locations across the area. Attendees can expect several beers from both Great Lakes and Big Ditch at each of the events.

6 p.m., March 3: Ebenezer Ale House (4348 Seneca St., West Seneca, 674-2337)
6 p.m., March 4: Brickyard Pub & BBQ (432 Center St., Lewiston, 754-7227)
7 p.m., March 9: Essex Street Pub (530 Rhode Island St., 883-2150)
5 p.m., March 11: MacGregors’ Grill & Tap Room (4350 Maple Road, Amherst, 725-0720)


Great Lakes has teamed up with Big Ditch to brew Great Big Steve. (Kevin Wise/Special to the News)


Russian Imperial Stout Tasting
6 to 9 p.m. March 6
Pizza Plant
7770 Transit Road, Amherst (832-0800)

The Russians are coming to Pizza Plant - Russian Imperial Stout beers that is.

Beers in the Russian Imperial Stout (RIS) category boast high alcohol by volume and plenty of malt character. These beers often contain lots of roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavors. Hop character of RIS spans a wide range from none to balanced to aggressive.


Promo for the Pizza Plant Russian Imperial Stout tasting (via Pizza Plant).

On tap for this tasting will be a range of top-rated Russian Imperial Stouts, including Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Mikkeleler Beer Geek Brunch Weasel and Westbrook Mexican Cake.

Local offerings include Hamburg Brewing Company Grounded, Community Beer Works Barrel-Aged Snow, Big Ditch Brewing Towpath and an appropriately named 42 North Brewing beer called Red Army Russian Imperial Stout.

Pizza Plant is known for its craft beer selection. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

Pizza Plant is known for its craft beer selection. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)


WNY Brewfest
March 5
Afternoon Session: 1 to 4 p.m.
Evening Session: 7 to 10 p.m.
Niagara Conference & Event Center
101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls (278-2100)

Formerly known as the Buffalo Winter Brewfest, the 2016 WNY Winter Brewfest will combine craft beer and activities. A list of participating breweries and events can be found here. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door and include a complimentary sampling glass, craft beer samples and activities.

The new name for this winter beer event is WNY Brewfest. (Matt Weinberg/Special to The News)

The new name for this winter beer event is WNY Brewfest. (Matt Weinberg/Special to The News)

[See photos from the 2015 Winter Brewfest]

A Sheraton at the Falls “Stay & Play” package costs $149 and includes overnight accommodations, two tickets to the Winter Brewfest, wine tasting passes for two to 16 New York wineries and a $50 Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino Slot Voucher.

Details for all the ticket pricing options can be found here.


Brews News

Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company (628 Lake St., Wilson, 333-4000) is releasing its XPA 5.0 beer. The XPA series is a revolving limited release beer that showcases different hops with each batch. 5.0 is brewed with Mosaic, Equinox and Amarillo hops and is dry-hopped to exude citrus and herbal hop aromas and flavors. XPA 5.0 will be released at the Art of Beer festival at the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center and at the brewery.


Kevin Wise, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biology at Trocaire College who maintains a blog on beer science and beer reviews and can be reached at:; Twitter: @BuffaloBeerBio; Untappd: @BuffaloBeerBiochemist

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