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Bottle That Stuff!
by Erik Wollschlager
More local craft breweries are offering their brews in six-packs
Five years ago, the Buffalo beer scene was a veritable wasteland. With very few breweries within the city limits, Buffalonians found their local craft beer options incredibly limited. Even when expanding outside of the city to regional breweries like Ellicottville and Southern Tier, if Buffalo was drinking a craft beer, it wasn’t made around here.
Fast forward a few years, and things are looking up for local craft beer lovers. It seems that a new brewery is opening every few months—both in the city and in the extended region. Breweries are so numerous that there seems to be one on every corner of the city.
The growth of the local beer market is fantastic, for many reasons. Obviously, the financial importance of the craft beer explosion cannot be overstated. Buffalo beer is a tourist attraction in and of itself, and with each new brewery that is constructed, the dynamic beauty of the buildings becomes an attraction, as well. Thanks to the passage of the Craft Act in New York State, brew pubs, production breweries—all of these meccas to beer dotting our cityscape serve it at its absolute freshest , much to the joy of residents of the region, as well as visitors.
In just a few short years, Buffalo has gone from almost no beer to being flooded with beer—in the best way possible. Thanks to the passage of the Craft Act in New York State, these local breweries are able to serve their beers to their customers on-site, which was a huge step for purveyors, who had previously had to depend largely on distributors to get their product to the masses. By serving on-site, the brewers were able to cut out the middle man.
Having expanded the demand for their beer, brewers had to step up production. It was a good problem to have, but a problem, nonetheless. Another issue that brewers encountered was the availability of their beer to the average consumer. For some, having to go to the brewery to have a beer is no issue; neither is heading to a bar for a tap takeover by one’s favorite brewmaker. For many, though, that time is a luxury they are not often afforded—it is difficult to justify a brewery stop when there is a four-year-old on the back seat begging for a trip to the zoo. Buffalo brewers have risen to the challenge, though. They have heard the cries of the softball dad. They have the cure that which ails the hockey mom. Local breweries have grown beyond their taprooms and Buffalo bars, and have begun packaging their beer.
The evolution of local beer has reached these heights at a rate no one could have predicted. Flying Bison has had their beer on shelves for nearly a decade, but new breweries like Resurgence Brewing and Hamburg Brewing are canning and bottling, respectively. Woodcock Brothers let slip recently that they will also begin bottling. Added to the already impressive roster with Southern Tier and Ellicottville, and there is quite an impressive list of local beers available in 12oz portions for your convenience.
The packaging of local beers indicates several important things about Buffalo’s beer scene. The first, and perhaps most important, is the increasing demand for the quality beer available from the Queen City’s brewers. The more beer they sell, the more beer they make, and the more beer they make, the more money they make, and they turn around and put that money into the quality of their beer. It is a cycle that certainly benefits the brewers, but Buffalo craft beer drinkers are literally consuming their investments—the money they spend on local beers has a direct impact on the quality.
Speaking of quality, packaging is one way to ensure a higher quality product. It’s not often feasible for a consumer to go directly to the source to get the freshest product, and even then, if softball dad is somehow able to hit the brewery for a growler fill in between games, the quality of the beer in that growler begins to depreciate as soon as the mini-van’s stick figure decals fade from sight. Canning and bottling protects the integrity of the product, so a beer purchased on Tuesday is just as good for the Saturday night Sabres game.
The increased presence of packaged local beer has even pervaded our grocery stores. The perpetual growth of the beer available—especially local beers—have caused the sections to creep out of the back corners where they were once forced to hide in the shadows of stacked 30-racks. At this rate, it won’t be long before the local beer section is larger than the national!
Buffalo has never really needed to be goaded into drinking local, and now that craft beer lovers can get their Buffalo brews in 6-packs, their products are flying off of the shelves. With cans cracked and church-keys at the ready, Buffalo craft beer drinkers can now enjoy their favorite local brews anytime, and any place.blog comments powered by Disqus
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