If the 2022 NYS Craft Brewers Festival proved anything, it proved just how incredible and truly amazing this beer scene of ours is. There’s a reason this event has quickly become the marquee, must-attend, beer event of the summer in Buffalo – seeing so many friends, making new ones and having so many excellent beers (seltzers, meads and ciders as well) all within the span on a few hours on Buffalo’s beautiful waterfront is something every beer drinker and craft aficionado should experience. Hell, it’s just a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
It makes me want to work even harder to promote, support and grow this beer scene bigger than ever. But I digress. Let’s get to the beer. You’re probably already yelling at your screen for me to stop waxing poetic. I apologize.
It should come as a surprise to no one in Western New York that, at a festival with over 50 breweries from every corner of the state, local beer showed up and showed out. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have anything great from the rest of the state – I had a lovely side pull of rice lager from Canandaigua’s Frequentem Brewing (Basmati Rice Lager), yes, a side pull on a jockey box, a pair of fantastic fruited sours from Brooklyn’s Wild East Brewing (Cosplay: Blueberry and Repeater: Blueberry), an awesome kellerbier from Long Island’s Big Alice Brewing (The Good Alice) and a tasty little hefeweizen on cask from Seneca Lake Brewing in Rock Stream. I was even recruited to tap a cask of Seneca Lake’s Irish Red, which didn’t up going well, but that’s a story for another day. We’re all here to focus on the beer, right? In short, New York is producing some of the best liquids in the world.
Belt Line Kitchen & Brewery Fruit Punch Brunch
Belt Line knows their way around a fruited sour, Double Jusey, Double Brunch or Tastes Like Brunch as prime examples, but Fruit Punch Brunch might just be the best of the lot for me. It was an utterly refreshing mix of pineapple, tangerine, cherry and lemon that wasn’t overly sweet and it was light and drinkable for 7.1%. I was a bit surprised at just how much I enjoyed this beer given that I have been off of fruited sours recently. But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Other Half Brewing Poetry Snaps Rice Lager
While it probably shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise that a beer from Other Half Brewing makes this best of list, what might be a surprise is that it’s a lager, not an IPA – Poetry Snaps Rice Lager to be exact. This beer is crisp and floral with citrus notes; super crushable and perfect for the warm weather that day. I found myself in line for this beer more often than not. And shout out to Other Half’s Broccoli Man, who sweated his off in his broccoli costume to take a bunch of pictures with us.
Pressure Drop Brewing Frosty Pops IPA
I ran into Head Brewer Karl Kolbe before I made my way over to the Pressure Drop booth at the fest and he told me that Frosty Pops IPA was the softest beer he has ever brewed, which is certainly saying something, coming from him. Welp, turns out he was right. Frosty Pops features soft and smooth notes of candied orange and tangerine – it was reminiscent of a hoppy orange creamsicle milkshake. I need to pick up some cans of this very soon.
New York Beer Project The One V.36
Look at that – another hazy banger makes this list. I’ve enjoyed many of the recent iterations of New York Beer Project’s rotational house New England, but V.36 was the best in recent memory. Big tropical and stone fruit notes, a light body and smooth finish. If you didn’t know, those are all things you want in a hazy IPA. I only had time for one pour of this and I wish I would have time for another. Guess I’ll just have to get my ass up to the brewery soon for more now won’t I?
Woodcock Brothers Brewing Water In The Flowers
I’ll admit, the first time I had Woodcock’s wonderful little Italian Pils was as part of a flight at their Wurlitzer location, and it wasn’t anything memorable. Fast forward to this festival, and I’m not sure what happened, but Water In The Flowers, a smooth, slightly spicy and floral pilsner, ended up as one of the better beers I had at the festival. I also wanted to use this space to highlight Thin Man Brewery’s Elettrico Eterno Italian Pilsner, which was refreshing and citrusy.
Bring on the next one.
Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).