Being a local entrepreneur in the planning stages of opening a brewery, the rumblings of ‘Buffalo Beer Week’ were very exciting to imagine and now it has come to fruition!  What a better way to showcase Buffalo’s local breweries, restaurants and bars that serve the masses?  Buffalo is not known by many as a craft beer destination…yet.  As the market nationally has rocketed off, Buffalo is going to be in for quite a ride in the very near future.  As a lifelong Buffalonian, I have experienced the pessimistic-optimism that most of us share.  Economy stinks, small market, wide right…nothing to brag about here, right!? However we are experiencing an organic growth in the craft beer niche, with more and more local breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars.  I’m sure many have noticed the awesome growler fill selection at Consumers Beverages, and also the new Premier Gourmet high tech growler station.   To highlight Buffalos growing craft scene I have interviewed several local brewers.
In 1992, I was knee high to a grass hopper however something amazing was happening.  Paul and Becky Dyster opened Niagara Traditions Home Brew store.  Home brewing has been a big player in the recognition and growth of craft beer; it gives novice and veteran beer lovers alike a greater appreciation for the art of brewing.  Becky remembers that in the early days of her business much of their time was spent simply educating the masses about what good beer was (at the time, mostly imports).  Today people come to them already knowing what craft beer is and have a desire to know more.  “The number of American breweries that have popped up over the past 20 years is truly amazing.  I only see Buffalo breweries and bars continually growing and offering more and more local beer.” 
Bill Metzger of the Brewing News and Gene McCarthy’s is one of the most knowledgeable craft beer experts in Buffalo.  During a video interview by the German team who made a film about the beer culture in Bamberg, Metzger explains that “…in the mid 1970’s there were fewer than 50 breweries remaining in the country.  However, people have a great love for beer, and more so quality beer, thus people that traveled to Germany, England or Belgium, discovered a culture with great respect and appreciation of better beer.  …when these people returned back to America they began what has come to be considered the “craft beer revolution.”  Bill has witnessed this revolution unfolding over the last 20 years tall over the country. Now he carries the torch of that revolution forward by buying Gene McCarthy’s with the intention of turning it into a brewpub beginning Spring 2013.
One of the first places I started my beer education was at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery [Pearl St and Seneca.]  I was able to catch up with Phil Internicola brew master of both the Pearl Street and the Pan-Am Grilles & Breweries. Phil believes that Buffalo is about 5 years behind the national craft beer movement, but that is not to say that we’re not making great strides to becoming a big player in the game.  Currently 1500 gallons of beer per week is consumed at the Pearl Street location; it is expected that the first year at the Pan-American will be around 1000 gallons per week.  Mr. Internicola believes that within the next 10 years the Buffalo market will demand so much locally crafted beer that his management team expects to open at least 2 more locations.  When asked about the fear of competition among breweries he responded “The more the merrier, with more breweries comes more choices, come more craft beer drinkers.”  This bodes well for Buffalo! 
Head brewer Rudy Watkins of Community Beer Works was kind enough to share his insight into Buffalo’s brewing future:
“It is an incredibly exciting time for beer in Buffalo.  The first generation of microbreweries and high quality beer bars and retailers are going strong … the beer scene in Buffalo continues to impress…. 5 years ago there were only a handful of beer events each year.  Now there are interesting things going on with amazing frequency.  More and more people are drinking good beer and more stores/bars are carrying it.  If a quarter of the breweries in planning open, we'll have more brewers in town than we have in decades.  More brewers = more options for the drinkers = a healthier scene.  I'm super excited for the future!”
Tim Herzog of owner of Flying Bison [Ontario St.] believes Buffalo’s craft beer culture “is alive and well, though it took a long time to get here.”  Twelve years ago when Flying Bison first opened, much of their time was spent explaining to consumers the difference between local craft beer vs  macro brewed “fizzy yellow water.”  However, today Tim attributes the health of craft beer to places like Consumers Beverages, Village Beer Merchant, Premier Gourmet, and the good beer bars.  As they have done an excellent job of raising awareness about craft beer in Buffalo.
When asked where Buffalo will be in the future?  Tim hopes to see several breweries, and brewpubs.  He also noted that brewpubs have been known to turn an area around, instead of being a breeding ground of graffiti; it is a excellent third place to spend time when people are not at home or work; this increases livability and can have a powerful positive effect on neighborhoods.
Tim has seen much change over the 12 years of business, and continues to see change for the better.  He is getting constant requests for beer dinners, not beer parties.  “People have realized that beer is more than a kegger, craft beer is flavorful and complex.  During dinner parties, the guests are encouraged to try different beer styles that pair extremely well with different dishes.
From every brewer’s personal perspective, there is a common theme.  The future is bright, the local market continues to embrace and experiment with new tastes. There is a strong taste for market growth over the next decade.  Enjoy Buffalo Beer Week, and cheers to making Buffalo, N.Y. a world class beer destination!
Crowds at Micros@Marcy

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