Buffalo Beer Hall of Fame – Celebrating the Trailblazers –

The HOF officially kicks off Buffalo Beer Week!

The HOF officially kicks off Buffalo Beer Week!

While the official parties are a couple of days off, I was honored to be included on the guest list for one of the most important events held in conjunction with Buffalo Beer Week – the Buffalo Beer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which includes the official tapping of the first keg of Buffalo Beer Week!

Let the Sweet Beer Flow!

Let the Sweet Beer Flow!

I arrived at Cole’s to find Buffalo Niagara Brewer’s Association President and Buffalo Beer Week Chair, Willard Brooks, being interviewed outside of the pub about the festivities taking place. I gathered at the bar with several of Buffalo beer’s VIPs, including past inductees and the guests of honor for today’s event. We were ushered into the upstairs room where I took a seat with fellow blogger, Michael Chelus, of the Nittany Epicurean. We were deep into blogging war stories when our attention was called for, and we turned toward the large wooden keg perched on the corner of the bar. A mallet and tap were produced and after a few good whacks, the tap was installed and the beer began to flow. Pitchers of Gordon Biersch’s Festbier were distributed to the tables and MC Bob Syracuse began the induction ceremony.

It was humbling to be surrounded by such inspirational people – those who have worked a lifetime to put Buffalo Beer on the map. Next to my table was a group from the Niagara Association of Homebrewers, who, as it was pointed out, have provided a meeting place for many of the people who are opening the new breweries in Buffalo. Willard took a turn at the mic, and took the time to acknowledge the efforts of the clubs – The Homebrewers, as well as Buffalo Beer League, Buffalo Beer Goddesses, and more. These are the people on the frontlines, who engage the average citizen, and challenge them to accept nothing less than great beer.

Directly to the right and left of these gentlemen were veterans of the scene – those who drove thousands of miles to help distribute beers from breweries that were then just startups, and now are kings of Craft Brew – local monarchs such as Ellicottville Brewing Company, and national favorites such Founder’s. These are the people who have been working for decades (since the last century!) to ensure that the Western New York region is informed about craft beer, and has all of the choices of a major market.

Willard completed his presentation, and the first inductee was introduced – Bill Metzger, part owner of Gene McCarthy’s and Old First Ward Brewing. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Bill on a few occasions, and although our interactions have been brief, I was glad to be present for this honor. His efforts have meant a lot to the region, and his establishment means a lot to South Buffalo and The Old First Ward. Bill graced us with a few stories of the humble beginnings of craft beer in Buffalo, and then the second honoree was introduced.

Peter Kreinheder of Ellicottville Brewing Company was next into the hallowed hall. Michael and I had just spoken about the great pub/brewery located in the heart of Ellicottville – a favorite stop of ours as we bring our families down to Pumpkinville in Little Valley. The EBC Blueberry has paved the way into craft beer for many who may have been nervous to take the plunge, and Peter’s brewery pumps out consistently great beers year after year.

Congrats, EBC!

Congrats, EBC!

The final honoree holds a special place in my heart. Please excuse my nerdgasm as I geek out over having met Phin DeMink, of Southern Tier Brewing. Some time ago, I swore off IPAs. I had many reasons (excuses) as to why, but mainly, I just didn’t give them a fair shake. I let one bad hop spoil the whole bunch, and Southern Tier’s 2XIPA brought me back around. Southern Tier is admittedly my favorite brewery right now, and with a few exceptions, I have loved everything that I have had a chance to sample. Their 2XMAS is killer – be sure you get some of that when it comes out this year. Right now, their Warlock and Pumking can be found in beer stores and grocers everywhere – get your hands on some before it is too late.

OK, back to the ceremony. Phin, probably most famous for being one half of Phin ‘n’ Matt, graciously accepted his accolades, thanking the BNBA and Willard for all of their work with Buffalo Beer Week and the other events that bring such great attention to our area.

At the completion of the ceremony, I took the opportunity to speak with some of the legendary people in the room. There was a gentleman whose family owned Phoenix Brewing, one of Buffalo’s most historic breweries; he was glad to see the growth in the industry and the city at large. I also had a chance to speak with Dan Baish, of the Niagara Association of Homebrewing and the Sultans of Swig; Dan mentioned the great events that have taken place recently which involved homebrewers – most notably The Dude Hates Cancer homebrew contest, held at Resurgence Brewing last month.

As I’ve seen in many instance recently, the rebirth of Buffalo plays out similarly in rebirth of beer in Buffalo – the passion of youth surrounded by the blue collared blood, sweat, and beers ethic of those who have blazed the trail for us. The Buffalo-Niagara Brewers Association has worked diligently to bring these groups together, and work toward common goals. If this event was any indication, Buffalo Beer Week will only continue to grow, and the golden, frothed fruits of their labor will be enjoyed by the city of Buffalo, its residents, and the multitude of visitors, for whom Buffalo Beer has become a destination it itself.

For more information, check out http://www.buffalobeerweek.com/

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