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Can-Am Beer Festival won't happen, but someone has to drink all the beer

Beer import rules could not be overcome in time to bring off the first annual Canadian American Beer Festival, organizers announced Wednesday.

That's the bad news.

The good news: 17 breweries on each side of the New York-Ontario border already have collaborated on two beers apiece – and somebody has to drink it.

"We are extremely disappointed to have to postpone the Can-Am festival, but given that we discovered an insurmountable issue with our 2018 import method only a few weeks away from the event, we thought it was best to postpone for this year,” said Willard Brooks, president of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association.

The association, along with the Ontario Craft Brewers, announced last April that they were joining forces for the international event, which had been scheduled for April 7 in the Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

In announcing the cancellation, the two groups unveiled plans for separate events.

Can Am Beer Fest – WNY BETA will start at noon April 8 at Pizza Plant (7770 Transit Road, Amherst). Admission is free with special flight pricing on the collaborative beers already brewed and fermenting in Western New York, as well as a chance to meet the brewers. Participating breweries will offer any leftover beers in their taprooms in the days afterward.

The Can Am Beer Fest – Ontario BETA will take place May 5 at Winking Judge Pub, (25 Augusta St., Hamilton). Those who pay $50 (Canadian) will get unlimited tastings and food, as well as a commemorative tasting glass.

Money will be refunded to those who already purchased tickets, Brooks said.

“The good news is that we have sourced a very experienced import agent that has agreed to enter into discussions with us to facilitate and resolve the border issues for 2019 which gives us complete confidence that we will have a solid partner to advise us as we move forward to 2019 and beyond,” he added.

The associations rescheduled their first international festival for April 13, 2019, in the Falls conference center.

A small number of Ontario breweries already use Western New York beer import companies to bring their brews in bottles and plastic kegs into the U.S. market to be sold in retail stores, restaurants and beer festivals. Flying Monkeys, which is among them, was one of this year's Can-Am participants.

Brooks said that process can get complicated when dealing with a larger number of "one-off" collaborative beers brewed in single batches. Organizers tried to go through diplomatic channels on the U.S. side of the border to streamline the process, he said, but the arrangement fell through. The organizers plan to go through the more traditional import process for next year's festival.

WNY, Ontario brewers to join forces for CanAm Craft Beer Fest

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