The word BEER made from hop cones

By: Brian Campbell

2015 has come and gone, and for beer fans it was one hell of a year. Breweries around the area concocted many delicious adult libations for our drinking pleasure and there were no shortage of events to enjoy said concoctions. Not only did 2015 mark the second year for the Farm To Pint Fete and Buffalo Brewers Festival, there was also the sixth annual Buffalo Beer Week, the annual 10-day celebration of all things local beer related.

If you missed out on any of these events (shame on you, you should know better), there is always this year, as 2016 will not only see the return of the Buffalo Brewers Fest to Canalside, Farm to Pint to Hamburg Brewing Company and the seventh annual Buffalo Beer Week across the Buffalo-Niagara region, the new year will also feature the debut of plenty of beer-centric events certain to become staples of the scene, including Springfest, where local and guest breweries from around the globe present rare and one-off beers (April 2, Pettibones Grill) and the Canadian-American Beer Festival, a two-day cross border beer festival in Niagara Falls, USA and Niagara Falls, Canada (October 28, 29), not to mention the Winter Blues & Brews Weekend in Ellicottville, NY, which is right around the corner and will feature local WNY breweries doing tap events at village pubs (January 22-24). Full details can be found at

Above all else however, it’s the people who brewed all of this beer that made 2015 such a memorable year, and we were lucky enough to see our craft beer scene expand time and time (and time) again, six times to be exact, throughout the year (see also Four Mile Brewing, 202 E Greene St, Olean), bringing the total number of breweries and cideries to approximately 20. Not only did Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing (8398 West Main Road, Westfield) expand their facilities to brew beer and become New York’s first winery, distillery and brewery hybrid and Rusty Nickel Brewing Co. (4350 Seneca St.) opened their taproom in West Seneca, 42 North Brewing Company (25 Main St.) brought East Aurora its first craft brewery.

Anchored by their incredibly sessionable Walloon Wit and decadent Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, 42 North, which gets its name from residing on the 42nd north parallel of the Earth, features a warm and embracing taproom draped in dark wood reclaimed from a barn fire in Holland, NY and lighter wood and bricks from the Richardson-Olmsted Complex in Buffalo, NY. Combine that with pinball, shuffleboard and bubble hockey and you have a welcome addition to the local beer scene.

New York Beer Project, a new 17,000 square foot gastropub, taproom and brewery located alongside Tonawanda Creek (6933 S. Transit Rd.) in Lockport, also opened its doors to the public. Though the brewery won’t be officially pouring their own beer until January 20 (they are currently serving fresh pints of plenty of local brews including Woodcock Brothers, Resurgence, Flying Bison, Community Beer Works, and Big Ditch), which will include “Lockport Lager,” a traditional pilsner at 4.5 ABV, “Destination,” a west coast style IPA, “Train of Thought,” a hoppy amber, “Buckleberry Wheat,” an American fruit wheat beer, and “CMS,” a coffee milk stout that will be offered as a nitro pour, the industrial, turn-of-the-century themed taproom is already a destination. And if that isn’t enough to look forward to with NYBP, lead brewer Jared Lewinski has said that they plan to brew sour ales with plans to serve them with their house-made flavored syrups to balance some of the tartness. So, come for the beer and stay for the views of the creek. And beer.

Last, but certainly not least, the launch of 12 Gates Brewing Company (80 Earhart Drive, Williamsville) happened just last month. With a strong focus on crafting quality hop-forward, West Coast-style, brews,  head brewer Shawn Kerr and company have already unleashed such IPA entries as their West Coast IPA and Under the Southern Cross IPA, with more to come in the future for sure. The taproom plays host to exposed wooden beams and raw wooden fixtures, and the entrance to the building was designed to look like the gates of a medieval city in England. While the taps will serve mainly 12 Gates beers, there are also plans for a cider tap, and, continuing their work with Glen Edith Coffee Roasters, the taproom will serve cold-pressed coffee on their nitro tap. So in case you were wondering, yes, this taproom is worthy of a visit.

All in all, 2015 was certainly one hell of a year, a true year for beer indeed, a true banner year. This craft beer scene of ours grew a little bit bigger and it seems that with so much on the horizon for the coming year, it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. So let’s sit back, raise a pint and enjoy it, shall we?