Buffalo Brewer’s Festival @ Canalside

The second annual Buffalo Brewer’s Festival @ Canalside took place on Saturday, June 20th, in what very well may have been Buffalo’s best beer gathering yet. Brewers from all over NYS and other regional favorites gathered at the ever-evolving waterfront park to celebrate something we can all get behind – beer. What a celebration it was, too, as thousands flocked to Canalside to experience this one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet the people behind the brews – the men and women whose creative recipes keep our glasses full, fresh and frothy.

The VIP tent was a treat for those wise enough to upgrade.

The VIP tent was a treat for those wise enough to upgrade.

As the crowd began to gather for the 3pm early-admission, the sky let loose its warning shots for the day a slow drizzle that sent the line hiding beneath the Skyway.  Undeterred, the line grew steadily with the awaited hour approaching. As attendees were welcomed through the gate, they were given their sample glass and drink tickets, along with a hearty “CHEERS!” Immediately to the right of the entrance was the Meet the Brewers tent, where ticketed guests could try local beers paired with charcuterie from local shops and chocolate from Sweet Jenny’s. To the left, the concourse opened up into a magical maze of everything beer. Pop-up tents of every color wound their way around the park, each bearing the logo or banner for some of the best breweries WNY and the region have to offer. Also represented were local homebrew stores, t-shirt companies, mug-makers and more. The paved lane that divides the park was lined with a few food trucks and food stands, which provided much needed sustenance for the intrepid tasters. To the far left was the line for the restrooms and just beyond was a magnificent land – the VIP area.

This year’s VIP area was something to behold, with picnic benches, the infamous Canalside captain’s chairs, and even

All hopped up and ready to go!

All hopped up and ready to go!

bean-bag toss for the chosen few who had wisely upgraded their ticket. Behind the open-air fair was the actual tent itself, and everything a Buffalo Beer Geek or Foodie could ask for. The chefs from Osteria 166 prepared a veritable feast for the VIPs, each selection inspired by a local brewery or ciderhouse. Perhaps the most spectacular selection of the afternoon was the Porchetta Cuban Sandwich with a great beans ‘n’ rice side, and paired with Community Beer Works’ ‘That IPA.’ If you’ve never had a hop-forward sandwich, you’re missing out. The VIP tent offered other great food selections, such as house-made bratwurst cooked in Ringside Lager, and a berry tart for dessert, paired with Blackbird’s Dabinette. Darby was on hand from Osteria to walk us through the process of conceiving of these great dishes, and was eager to answer any questions one may have.

The quality of the food cannot be overstated, but perhaps the best experience offered at the VIP tent were the rare beer selections available. Southern Tier’s Local Sour, which was made 100% from local ingredients, was a favorite of those gathered around the bar, while Resurgence Brewing’s Coconut Carmel Stout was a dessert in and of itself. Casks from CBW, 3HB, Hamburg Brewing were served, among others. 3HB’s Captain Banana was spectacular in that it tasted like a freshly baked banana muffin. EBC was pouring their delicious, golden Catt County Cuvee, much to the delight of those at the bar.  The only regret would be the inability to try each of the amazing selections reserved for the VIPs.

The main sampling area was varying degrees of crowded and open, depending upon the weather. A couple of times during the afternoon, rain happened upon the attendees, which was a pleasant inconvenience. The rain kept the day cool, and drove samplers underneath the tents, spending more time than perhaps they normally would with the pourers, who worked tirelessly to keep up with the demand. A few of the sampling stations were worked by the brewers of the beers – a unique experience for those who had questions about the beer they were drinking. Most taps were handled by volunteers – members of local enthusiast groups, such as Buffalo Beer League and Buffalo Beer Goddesses, amateur champion athletes, such as QCRG’s Nickel City Knockouts, and members of the local media.

WGOIB poured some of Greenport Brewing's finest selections for the crowd.

WGOIB poured some of Greenport Brewing’s finest selections for the crowd.

What’s Going On In Buffalo was on hand to sample some of the area’s finest craft beers, and did some pouring as well. The experience was amazing, on both sides of the tap – we met so many great people, and can’t wait to do it again soon. Here are some of our favorites, so if you see them on shelves or in bars, give them a try. Even better – stop out to the breweries and get them fresh from the tank!

Josh: Spider Bite’s Russian Imperial Stout, and Blackbird’s ciders.

Craig: Flying Monkey’s Acadian Groove Maple Porter, EBC’s Double Chocolate Cherry Bomb, Resurgence Brewing’s Coconut Carmel Stout, Keuka’s Double Mocha Stout.

Erik: Abandon Brewing’s Peppercorn Saison, CBW’s Yuz Not the IPA, Rusty Nickel’s Honey Nut Beer-E-Os, Sixpoint’s Sweet Action, all of 3 Heads’ selections…so many great beers!

The Brewer’s Festival proved once again to be an amazing way to kick off summer in Buffalo. Thanks to all of the breweries, restaurants, vendors, and volunteers that made this such an amazing experience. Special thanks to Willard Brooks and the Buffalo-Niagara Brewer’s Association, who consistently bring us the best beer experiences. Be sure to follow them on their website, as well as facebook, as they present more events – some more grandiose, some more intimate. While you enjoy your Buffalo beer this summer, keep in mind that Buffalo Beer Week is just a few short months away. Amazing events are planned with some of Buffalo’s best bars and finest restaurants – mouthwatering pairings beyond belief. And who knows…maybe you’ll get your chance to taste the ever-elusive hop-forward sandwich…

Cheers, from us at What's Going On In Buffalo!

Cheers, from us at What’s Going On In Buffalo!

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