It’s always enjoyable to take a quick look back at our year in beer.
In some ways, I’d say that 2017 was our slowest year. Well, it was supposed to be our slowest year anyway. This was the first year we didn’t undergo an expansion project.
In retrospect, I don’t think any of us would have called this year “slow”.
Let’s start with Hayburner. Way back before we started this thing, we knew that it was important to brew a great IPA. We thought we had a good one when we won a gold medal for the American IPA category at AWOG back in 2013. Little did we know how far that beer would go. With your help, Hayburner has now become one of the best selling craft beers in Western New York.
We also added on a lot of new beers in cans to our portfolio. Priority #1 was Deep Cut Double IPA, which we brew about once every month or two. We also added on a seasonal line of cans, beginning with FC Session Wheat IPA for the summer, followed by Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale this fall, and concluding with Fresh Baked Winter Ale this winter.
Last year we also kicked around the idea of canning more limited availability IPAs, since people seem to like those quite a bit, and we’ve received great reviews on our Lock IPA Series – first Packet, then Fip. People frequently ask us when we’ll make Packet again – truthfully, probably not until next year. However, we will almost certainly brew Fip again in 2018.
Because of all of these new canned beers, the canning line we added in 2016 wound up being used a lot more than we thought in 2017. We run the canning line about 4 days a week currently and have a staff of 3 full time and 1 part time people that are dedicated to packaging. They do a great job keeping your beer fresh and ready to drink at all times!
There were several other cool beers launched this year as well! Some of the highlights: Short Cut Session IPA, Electric District Pils (our first true lager!), GP2H (triple IPA anniversary beer), Penalty Kill Kolsch (this was AWOG winner Kevin DiTondo’s beer – our fastest selling pilot beer ever), Meloneweizen Watermelon Hefeweizen (man, that was a lot of watermelon), Make Me Wanna Stout coffee cream stout and Chocolate Milk Stout. And some other special collaborative beers: Gin Barrel Aged Beautiful River with barrels from Tommyrotter, BDU Collaboration IPA with Upstate Brewing Company, and Rivalry Pale Ale with Harpoon Brewery. All in all, we created about 25 new beers this year – about one new beer every two weeks, which is about the rate we’ve produced new beers ever since we started brewing. Look for about 25 new beers next year as well!
Our launch into Rochester also kept us busy! Rochester has gone even better than we hoped in 2017, and it’s obvious that Rochester beer drinkers really know good craft beer. I expect 2018 will be an even better year for Rochester and Big Ditch.
Also, did you know we were the second largest brewpub in the Northeast per the Brewers Association in 2016? Neither did we!
Out of anything we did in 2017, we were most proud of our Big Difference volunteer group, who went out into our good city and did good things. We cleaned up the waterfront with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, we landscaped a house with Habitat for Humanity, we biked for cancer research as part of Ride for Roswell, and decorated Child and Family Services of Buffalo for Christmas. We love doing these events and are excited to do more for our community in 2018.
So, what else do we have in store for 2018? Let’s start with new beers. Expect to see some additions to our Lock IPA series. Currently, Lock #3 is just a few weeks away, Lock #4 is looking like spring time, a Fip repeat is sort of end of springish, Lock #5 should be this summer, and after that, who knows?
And what does Double Dry Hopped mean anyway? I guess we’ll find out later this year. Ahem. THAT’S A DAMN HINT.
Other canned beers: Beautiful River Belgian-style Saison anyone? Planned for this spring’s seasonal. Maybe some others, too early to tell.
Will we sell beer in your village/town/city/state? Probably not. Well, maybe some small amounts. In limited quantities. Of your favorite beers. ALSO A HINT.
Variety packs? Maybe. Too soon to tell. We’re thinking about it though.
More sours? Man, we’d sure like to make them. I hope so.
How are we going to make all of this beer? Well, believe it or not, we’re planning ANOTHER (smaller) brewery expansion this spring where we’ll add two more 60 bbl fermenters. It will be really freaking tight in here. But, absolutely necessary to make more beer for you, our loyal and much appreciated Western New York beer drinker.
That will certainly be the last of the expansions we can make to the brewery – we’re just out of room. So, what’s after that? I am sure we will let you know as soon as we know.
Finally, as always, a rundown of great beers we’ve had this year. Let’s stick with last year’s trend of all New York State beers – because we love NY! Nonlocals: A2 Dubbel from Transmitter (maybe my favorite dubbel ever?!?), Sno Klouds by The North, Riot in Upstate by Upstate Brewing and Prison City, East vs West IPA (v5) by Iron Tug (blown away) and DDH Mylar Bags by Other Half (blown away again). And locals! Urban Samurai by Sato, Funky Vintner by Flying Bison, THEE Barleywine by NYBP, Vagabond by 42N, and B(lac) Magic by CBW – these guys are sure to make our list every year with something.
Here’s hoping we make someone’s list next year!
And, as always, thanks so much for your support – we appreciate our customers and guests more than you know – the smiles on your faces are the reasons we come to work every day. Have a happy 2018, Western New York!