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Beer Matters: RiverWorks, Pizza Plant, Blue Monk

6 to 9 p.m. April 8
Buffalo RiverWorks
359 Ganson St. (342-2292)

Despite the recent bout of April snow, organizers will be celebrating the imminent arrival of a proper spring with the inaugural Thawfest. More than 20 wineries, distilleries and breweries from around the area will be featured. A list of participating vendors can be viewed here.

“We started Thawfest for two reasons - the first and most important is to showcase the local products that are being produced in Western New York,” said Chris Herr, head brewer at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, and future head brewer at RiverWorks.

“As far as I know, this is the first festival to showcase breweries, wineries, distilleries and even kombucha (a fermented tea) all produced in Western New York and all in the same location,” said Herr.

“The second reason is to show off our newest and most ambitious project yet- Buffalo RiverWorks.”

RiverWorks is a collaboration between local investors, Pearl Street companies and Labatt Blue to create a huge event facility. You may have noticed the Labatt Blue "giant six pack," which was formerly grain silos, which can be seen as you’re driving on I-190 or the Skyway.

The location features two multipurpose ice rinks, an indoor roller derby track, The Ward restaurant, a stage, a 300-foot dock along the Buffalo River with a kayak launch and a multilevel wraparound patio. Installation of a new brewery is planned by the end of 2017. Both the brewery and distillery be retroactively built into the giant six-pack and will be accompanied by a beer garden.

“We have over 20 breweries, six distilleries, and six wineries all coming to pour samples. We also have two local malt and hop producers, an equipment manufacturer, local home brew shops and even Yancey's Fancy cheese,” said Herr.

Music will be performed by Billboard-ranked Buffalo blues artist the Tommy Z Band.

VIP tickets are sold out, but standard tickets cost $41 ($39 plus $2 in service fees per ticket) can be found at this link. Tickets include samples of craft beverages and a custom Thawfest commemorative glass goblet. RiverWorks boasts a 25-foot television and will be broadcasting the last Buffalo Sabres home game.

“While Riverworks is specifically designed to have garage doors that can open when the weather is nice, this event will be inside. So don't worry if the weather doesn't cooperate,” said Herr.

Thawfest (photo Chris Herr)

RiverWorks will showcase local wineries, distilleries and breweries at its inaugural Thawfest. (photo via RiverWorks)


Sour Power
5 to 8 p.m., April 10
Pizza Plant - Williamsville
7770 Transit Road, Williamsville (832-0800)

Sour beers are are intentionally acidic, tart or sour in taste. Most commonly, these beers are Belgian-derived and include lambics, gueuze and Flanders red ale. Pizza Plant will host “Sour Power,” and has assembled an ensemble of sour beers for tasting.

Beers on tap include:

Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes: XV
Grimm Artisanal Ales - Subliminal Message
Fritz Briem - 1809 Berliner Weisse Style
Brasserie de Silly S.A. - Stupid Silly Sour
Panil - Panil Barriquée (Sour Version)
Avery - Raspberry Sour
Captain Lawrence - Rosso E Marrone
Prairie Artisan Ales - Prairie Flare With Orange
Community Beer Works - Ks2: Juicy
To Øl - Sur Citra

Pizza Plant inside (photo Kevin Wise)

The scene inside Pizza Plant (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

World-renown Cantillon Brewery selections will be available in bottles. Cantillon is known for making lambic and gueuze style beer. Unlike most beers, which are fermented with brewer's yeast, lambics are fermented spontaneously by being exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria native to a particular region in Belgium. This process imparts the beer its distinctive dry, vinous and cider flavors, usually accompanied by a sour aftertaste.

The following difficult-to-obtain bottles will be available at Sour Power.

Cantillon - Kriek
Cantillon - Vigneronne
Cantillon - Gueuze 100% Lambic-Bio (Organic Gueuze)
Cantillon - Fou' Foune
Cantillon - Cuvée Saint-Gilloise
Mikkeller - Spontanmango
Allagash - Tiarna
Allagash - Cuvée D'Industrial
Goose Island Beer Co. - Madame Rose
BfM - Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien (2013)
't Hofbrouwerijke - Flower Sour
Almanac Beer Co. - Farmer's Reserve Pluot
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project - Surette Provision Saison
Toccalmatt /Evil Twin - Kaleidoscope

Dan Syracuse of Pizza Plant (photo Kevin Wise)

Dan Syracuse is the owner of Pizza Plant. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)


Bottle Blowout
Noon on April 10
Blue Monk Buffalo
727 Elmwood Ave. (882-6665)

Blue Monk will be officially closing on April 16, so this will be the last Sunday it will be open. Blue Monk plans to have a bottle release, including cellared and regular inventoried bottles. Bottles will include a wide range of offerings, from Belgians to Scandinavians, sours, India pale ales, imperial India pale ales, and more.

Represented breweries will include Evil Twin, Trinity, Jolly Pumpkin, Tilquin, Mikkeller, Against the Grain, The Bruery, Allagash and ToOl. There are only 100 tickets being sold.

Blue Monk is known for having one of the best selections of imported beers in Buffalo. Entrance is $50 and includes a logoed Blue Monk goblet. Tickets can be obtained here.

The inside of Blue Monk. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)


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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