By Erik Wollschlager

Published in Partnership with Artvoice and the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association

It is no secret that the city of Buffalo’s recent expansion is tied to its growing craft brew industry. This growth requires two things—people to brew it and people to drink it. Thankfully for all of us, there are plenty of both. These two ingredients come together in an amazing location for a wonderful Bermuda Triangle of awesomeness at the rapidly developing Buffalo RiverWorks. On Friday, February 6th, the Queen City Rollergirls (QCRG) opened their 2015 season with an exhibition match at Buffalo RiverWorks—a one of a kind facility that will cater to brewers, bruisers, and drinkers alike.

“These girls love their beer,” says Mama Chops, spritely events coordinator for QCRG and RollerMom extraordinaire. In between hugs and high-fives from everyone passing by, Mama explained just how deep their love really is. “A lot of these girls even brew their own beer—each team brewed a batch for our Beer & Beards hombebrew competition.” She laughed at the suggestion that someone might brew a ‘Bruiser Belgian,’ replying “Chicks dig IPAs.” Willard Brooks, President of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association puts it this way: “The roller girls stand out as a group of strong women whose absolute verve and elbow grease goes to great lengths to promote local craft beer. And they have done a great deal with us. Back in 2013 we worked together on the Buffalo Beer Geek Festival at Artisan Baths and Kitchen. In 2014 we worked together at the Buffalo Brewers Festival at Canalside as well as on their awesome 1st Annual Black Rock Pub Crawl during Buffalo Beer Week. There are lots of ideas are flying around about what we might work on next—more details are sure to evolve—stay tuned.”

According to Mama, “Last year, the beer week Black Rock Pub Crawl for Beer Week went awesome and we are looking forward to hosting again.” As she surveyed the barebones structure where the bout was set to take place, she breathed in the floating dust and smiled. “This is going to be awesome.”

The bout was indeed awesome. It was a high-scoring affair, and aside from a few injuries, the violently graceful match passed without a hitch. When the dust settled, reigning champs the Nickel City Knockouts came out on top of the contending Suicidal Saucies. Following the final whistle, the girls and the crowd headed over to Pearl Street Grill & Brewery for the afterparty. “Buffalo is just a big backyard,” says Chris Herr, head brewer at Pearl Street, the Pan-Am, and the soon-to-be facility at RiverWorks. Chris has family ties with the organizers of QCRG and seems to be excited to be working hand-in-hand with the organization. While the brewery at Riverworks may still be as much as a year off, the planning stages have begun. Chris also chuckled at the suggestion of a “Bruiser Belgian,” and said “You know, I haven’t given it that much thought. We’re going to brew the Lake Effect Stout and the Trainwreck (Pearl Street & Pan-Am’s signature pale ale), but the rest of the beers we’ll be brewing will be unique to the facility.”

In the brief time that Chris has been brewing at Pearl Street, his mark has been made on all of the beers available. “We’ve upgraded our malt, moving to the next level available. It costs a bit more, but it makes a better beer, and that’s really what’s most important.” Chris said he’s tweaked some of the standard recipes, “I’m hoping that next time someone comes in, they take a sip and think ‘This is a bit different.’” Pearl Street will be debuting a new beer in the coming weeks—an ale brewed with an experimental hop variety. “The nose is heavy with peach,” Chris said, with a faraway look in his eyes that betrayed his excitement, “it’s definitely a unique flavor profile.” Pearl Street will announce the debut through their social media and e-mail newsletter, so be sure you’re in the know when this and other exciting beer pours.

The Devil Dollies will face off against the Alley Kats for the second half of the two-part Icebreaker exhibition bouts on Friday, February 13th. The first official QCRG bout is scheduled at RiverWorks for Friday, February 27th, when the Knockouts will face the Alley Kats. Season tickets for QCRG will be available soon—these events at the city’s incredible new entertainment complex are not to be missed, and will quickly sell out. Grab a beer, choose a side, and let the ladies know what you think of their jam. After the bout, join the afterparty, because the only thing better than watching these girls knocking each other down is joining them to knock a few back.