When the inaugural Buffalo Beer Week was celebrated in 2010, there were just three breweries in the Buffalo area: Flying Bison Brewing Company, Pearl Street Grill & Brewery and Buffalo Brewpub.
Now, with 38 breweries throughout Western New York – and with more on the way – the 10th annual Buffalo Beer Week has grown to feature more than 100 events between Sept. 13 and 22 as a celebration of the growth and evolution of the local craft beer and brewery community and industry.
As Buffalo’s dynamic craft beer and brewing scene bustles, even the most avid craft beer connoisseur has likely had a tough time keeping up. Buffalo Beer Week presents a prime opportunity to visit new breweries, taprooms and beer stores; taste inventive new local offerings; and learn about craft brewing. The event also aims to introduce newcomers to the expansive world of quality craft beer.
With so many styles, flavors and a wide IBU range (international bitterness unit — if IPAs aren’t your thing, you likely prefer low-IBU beer), Buffalo’s craft beer scene offers something to please every palate, said Dan Syracuse, partner at Pizza Plant and a Buffalo Beer Week organizer.
“The gamut of beers is all over the place,” Syracuse said. “You can get a simple pilsner, and you can get a strawberry-banana milkshake IPA all the way on the other end of the scale, and you can get an 11% [ABV] stout that tastes like German chocolate cake.”
While not technically beer, local ciders and meads are embraced and featured by Buffalo Beer Week, too.
To the organizers of Buffalo Beer Week, Buffalo’s craft beer boom — a noted economic driver — signals and represents a number of positive trends.
Willard Brooks, founder of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association and Iron Belt Brewing Co., a new brewery set to join others at a Chandler Street beer hub collective, looks forward to Buffalo becoming a true craft beer destination. “Buffalo as a beer place will start to be recognized by people outside of Buffalo as a place to visit if you’re interested in craft beer,” he said.
For Bobby Rabb, the owner of Mister Goodbar, Buffalo Beer Week is all about “the community and camaraderie between businesses, breweries and neighborhoods.”
And for Syracuse, Buffalo Beer Week is a time for the community to enjoy the hard work of area brewers. “The real winners are all the people that get to go out on Beer Week and enjoy Buffalo’s best offerings,” he said. “It’s a celebration of all things beer.”
Buffalo Beer Week Opening Gala: 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 13, Flying Bison Brewing Company (840 Seneca St.). The $20 admission includes tasting glass and eight 5-ounce beer samples from a number of breweries. The event will also feature live music and food from Kindred Creek and Casa Azul food trucks.
IPA Palooza: Noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 14, Pizza Plant Buffalo (125 Main St.). The mark of a good brewery is a great IPA. Here, local breweries will pour their best hops forward in a celebration of craft beer’s signature style. Free entry; a la carte beer.
Buffalo Beer League Bash: 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 14, Pizza Plant Williamsville (7770 Transit Road). The Buffalo Beer League — the official craft beer enthusiast club of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association — welcomes everyone to this event with beer specials, live music and reduced cost memberships.
Buffalo Brewers Symposium: 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 17, Buffalo Cider Hall (155 Chandler St.). A panel discussion of the history and future of brewing in Buffalo featuring Willard Brooks, Matt Kahn (partner at Big Ditch Brewing Company), Mike Shatzel (partner at Thin Man Brewery), Scott Donovan (founder of BlackBird Cider Works), Tracy Jong and Karen Fashana (director of marketing at Visit Buffalo Niagara).
Ballpark Brew Bash: 3 to 7 p.m., Sept. 21, Sahlen Field. More than 50 breweries and 100 unique beers. Tickets, $35 general, $75 VIP, available at all 18 Consumers Beverages locations, the Buffalo Bisons box office and at Tickets.com. Designated driver tickets, $5 general, $45 VIP, available at the door. General admission tickets include a sampling glass and sampling tickets. VIP tickets include early entry at 5:30 p.m., access to VIP-only beers and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Buffalo Beer Week also will feature more than 100 smaller events, including taproom brunches, beer tastings, tap takeovers and brewery tours. Among the many participating businesses are Fattey Beer Co., 12 Gates, 42 North, Premier Gourmet (Amherst), Windy Brew, Gene McCarthy's/Old First Ward, Buffalo Brew Pub, Belt Line Brewery, Colter Bay and more.