by Erik Wollschlager
On Saturday (9/26) Buffalo will once again host some of North America’s best breweries for the Sixth Annual Ballpark Brew Bash. From 5-8pm, Coca-Cola Field will become the temporary home of nearly 60 breweries and 4,000 attendees. Among the more notorious breweries that will be bringing their finest brews to Buffalo are Prairie, Green Flash, and Stillwater, but the list certainly doesn’t end there.
Coca-Cola field has a storied tradition of pairing craft brew and baseball. Rob Free, Director of Food Service Operations for the Buffalo Bisons, is proud of the part he played in that tradition. “Coca Cola Field was one of the first minor league stadiums to feature craft beer. When we began the program, several major league teams contacted us about it, too—asking us how we got started.” The tradition continues with the Ballpark Brew Bash. “Brew Bash is unique because we work hard to feature unique beers that no other festivals have.”
Along with Consumer’s Beverages, the Bisons have partnered with the Buffalo-Niagara Brewer’s Association (BNBA) to make Brew Bash one of the premier events of Buffalo Beer Week. Thanks to a Craft Beverage Tourism Promotion grant which the BNBA landed from the Empire State Development Corporation, the festival is reaching across the border to encourage Canadian beer lovers to spend the evening in Buffalo on the 26th and throughout Buffalo Beer Week. “Because of our relationship with the Toronto Blue Jays, people in Southern Ontario are familiar with the ballpark, having come to watch their farm team play,” says Rob. “We’re hoping that the great craft beer lovers of Southern Ontario will come down from the Golden Horseshoe and see what we have to offer here in Buffalo.” Canadian visitors won’t have to travel far to feel at home, as several Canadian breweries will be represented at the festival. Later in the week Toronto beer expert Stephen Beaumont with host a Vines and Bines dinner at Oshun on Tuesday and a rare beer tasting at Pizza Plant on Wednesday.
The BNBA is also bringing their Farm to Pint Passport program to the ballpark for Brew Bash. F2P is a great program which features beers made from local malts and hops. According to the website, “The Farm-to-Pint (F2P) Initiative is all about local beer. Bringing together local hops farmers, grain farmers, and maltsters with local breweries to create indigenous craft beer that captures and reflects our community pride and heritage. The F2P cycle continues with local beer distributors, retail merchants and craft beer venues supporting the collective efforts of our beer producing community and filling our pints with the cold and fresh flavors of our region. And then to you, the craft beer lover, for whom the seed was sown, nurtured, reaped, milled, malted, brewed, kegged, delivered, tapped, poured and served.” Most local breweries are taking part in the program and will have their special F2P beer on tap for Beer Week. You can pick up your Passport at Ballpark Brew Bash or online at www.buffalobeerweek.com/f2p/.
Beer is certainly the focus of the event on Saturday, but that is not the complete experience. Rob and the Bisons have created a more open, relaxed atmosphere at the ballpark. “We take full advantage of the space. It’s not designed to go from beer tent to beer tent—the brewers are spread out. In between samples, people can take pictures in the dugout and walk the warning track. We’ve got giant Jenga, a five foot Rubik’s cube, and life-sized Operation.”
There is a lot to celebrate as we head into Buffalo Beer Week. Summer weather has stuck with us, and though the first signs of fall are starting to dot the trees on the hills of the southtowns, temperatures this weekend are forecast to be in the mid-70s. The brewers attending the festival are standing firmly with one foot in summer and one in autumn, with many bringing warm-weather favorites such as session IPAs, along with frosty fall froths—oktoberfests and pumpkin beers. Be sure to purchase your tickets to Ballpark Brew Bash and join the thousands of craft beer lovers who will be bridging the gap together on Saturday. Tickets are available at the local breweries and Consumer’s Beverage locations, as well as online at www.ballparkbrewbash.com/tickets.
With so much to experience, the Sixth Annual Ball Park Brew Bash indeed has something for everyone. Whether it’s great craft beer from international breweries, delicious local collaborations, or hanging out in the dugout, this event is not one to be missed. Join us as we celebrate summer, fall, and Buffalo Beer Week at one great festival. Tag us on social media with #BallparkBrewBash and #BuffaloF2P. We’ll be sharing photos, interviews, and much more as the festival progresses, so be sure to get in on the action. The opportunity to enjoy a day like this at the ballpark only happens once a year—don’t let it pass you by!