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Buffalo-area beers to taste with the NCAA tourney

The last time Buffalo hosted NCAA Tournament action, a lot about the city was different. KeyBank Center was First Niagara Center. HarborCenter was still rising; and Canalside’s ice rink and interpretive waterways had yet to be finished.

Then there was the locally brewed beer selection.

Sure, upstart breweries had joined cherished veterans like Flying Bison to ignite the city’s craft beer scene, but the impressive proliferation of styles and selections had yet to spread into nearly every barroom within walking distance of tourney match-ups.

Three years later, fans will find far more Buffalo brews to explore through game breaks. Here’s a list of 10 beers to guide the journey:

12 Gates Wind Forge IPA (6.2 percent ABV)

Where to find it: Pizza Plant (125 Main St.)

Distance from KeyBank Center: 0.3 miles

Why to order: For those who gravitate toward juicy New England-style IPAs and Belgian Wits, there’s this amalgamation of the two from 12 Gates Brewing (80 Earhart Drive, Williamsville). And enjoyed away from Lake Erie winds and with or without one of Pizza Plants's famed pizza pods, it’s a fine way to toast a win—or bury a loss.


42 North Asylum Porter (6.8 percent)

Where to find it: 716 Food & Sport (7 Scott St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.1 miles

Why to order: Smooth, dark and delicious, this selection from 42 North in nearby East Aurora should please fans who prefer chocolate notes in their pregame beers. And inside the audio-visual palace that is HarborCenter’s 716, fans can enjoy rounds of porter while surrounded by walls of small, large and gargantuan television screens.


Ellicottville Brewing Co. Keepin’ It Peel IPA (5 percent)

Where to find it: Ballyhoo Links & Drinks (211 South Park Ave.)

Distance from KBC: 0.4 miles

Why to order: Just because the weather’s closer to winter than summer doesn’t mean drinkers can’t indulge in sunnier tastes. EBC’s tangy citrus IPA certainly provides the chance to do this and, inside Ballyhoo, an excuse to team a few pints with some of Buffalo finest house-made sausages.


Community Beer Works The Whale (5.9 percent)

Where to find it: Liberty Hound (1 Naval Park Cove)

Distance from KBC: 0.2 miles

Why to order: One of Buffalo’s go-to brown ales features two types of chocolate malt within its deep, roasted flavor, yet it's light enough for repetitious consumption. Inhaling a few inside the Liberty Hound will give drinkers a compact spot to enjoy this local brew, as well as a nice view of the city's Central Wharf and riverfront.

Big Ditch Short Cut Session IPA (5 percent)

Where to find it: Big Ditch Brewery (55 E. Huron St.)

Distance from KBC: 1.2 miles

Why to order: There are plenty of beers you could taste inside the award-winning brewery’s downtown taproom. But seeing as it’s a longer walk than most of this list’s recommendations, the low ABV of this scaled-down version of the brewer’s Deep Cut Double IPA seems to be the responsible decision.


Hamburg Brewing Co. Irish Red Ale (4.8 percent)

Where to find it: The Mahony (199 Scott St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.6 miles

Why to order: Tis the season to order beers that feature the word “Irish” in their title, so visitors can celebrate pre- or post-St. Patrick’s Day with this year-round Southtowns favorite. And inside the converted Fairmont Creamery’s Mahony, fans might find a clandestine escape from KBC crowds (as long as no one else reads this).


Resurgence IPA (7.2 percent)

Where to find it: Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.2 miles

Why to order: The Niagara Street brewer’s full-bodied IPA is its flagship selection, now available on draft and canned across the region. But for those in Buffalo for the first time, the selection provides a strong introduction to the city’s brewing scene against the gritty brick-and-timber backdrop of Iron Works.


19th Anniversary Imperial Oatmeal Stout (10.2 percent)

Where to find it: Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.5 miles

Why to order: When Pearl Street first opened at the corner of Pearl and Seneca streets, it was one of the only local bars that offered house-brewed craft drafts. Today, it's one of many, but are pouring this frothy and potent oatmeal stout to celebrate its role as a nearly two decades old trailblazer.


NY Beer Project’s GameDay Belgian White (5.4 percent)

Where to find it: Lockhouse Distillery & Bar (41 Columbia St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.3 miles

Why to order: The Lockport brewer has reached its bulk of customers with pints inside its cavernous Niagara County headquarters. But now with availability inside the Cobblestone’s cozy distillery, NYBP can provide basketball fans an apropos selection to team with Lockhouse’s premium spirits.


Genesee Cream Ale (5.1 percent)

Where to find it: Swannie House (170 Ohio St.)

Distance from KBC: 0.4 miles

Why to order: Is Genny really a Buffalo beer? No, but the Rochester favorite has been a part of the Queen City’s celebrations and mistakes for generations. Out-of-towners should get a taste of our history, and they can do so with a Screamer inside Buffalo’s second oldest tavern, the beloved Swannie.

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