As I sit here, a day removed from watching the Buffalo Bills magical playoff run end at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, I feel almost numb after experiencing a veritable rollercoaster of emotions during the game. And after the final gun sounded, I sat alone and I cried during a solitary moment of reflection. My eyes, my body, still hurt. It was cathartic. My body needed that release after how tense of a journey this season has been.
Also cathartic, for me, is writing, which is why I felt compelled to put pen to paper in an effort to collate my thoughts, bring some sense of relief to this emotional malaise I’m feeling, process, reflect, and, perhaps, move forward.
2020 was an incredibly rough year for me (as it was for many others). My wife, my best friend, and my mother all fell very ill, and were each hospitalized for a time as a result. I started a new job, while watching many others lose theirs. I even underwent surgery to have a mass removed from my head (if you’re wondering, I’m fine). I learned the true meaning of hope, gratitude, faith, fear, patience, and perseverance. And though it all, the Bills were a galvanizing force. This team, what they were able to accomplish this year, helped get me through some dark times, in which I was being pulled, both mentally and physically, in a million different directions, and, for all intents and purposes, I was probably drinking way too much.
Beyond the game itself, the beer played a big part; along with the Bills Mafia and the sense of community. It meant a lot to me to see two of my biggest passions, the Bills and Buffalo beer, come together. It seemed like every single brewery released their own Bills-themed beer as the team drove further and further into the playoffs, and I was there for it all.
For Wild Card Weekend, collecting the beer releases was nearly as fun as the game. Nearly. I started at Butera’s for Village Brew House’s #17 Billsner, before hitting Hamburg Brewing for A Little Bit Lager Now and First Line Brewing for Beasts in the East Buffalo IPA. Meanwhile, Scott bought 12 Gates Playoff Beard from Consumer’s, before hitting Premier for Thin Man’s Pills Mafia and Big Ditch Brewing’s Make Me Wanna Stout and Brickyard Brewing for their Number 17 IPA. Jesse then grabbed some Let’s Go Pils, Right Here, Right Now Hometown Ale and Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo IPA from Community Beer Works, and Playoff Pilsner and Circle the Wagons IPA from Resurgence Brewing. And the Bills won.
Then, for the divisional round, we grabbed more #17 Billsner, more Pills Mafia, this time on sale from Market in the Square in West Seneca (they often have great beer specials if you didn’t know), more Playoff Pilsner and Circle the Wagons, and more A Little Bit Lager Now. And the Bills won again.
For the conference championship game, my beer list was even more paired down, with Let’s Go Pils and Pills Mafia. And then the Bills lost. But, I’m not entirely sure what beer I drank on Sunday would have made any bit of difference.
Look, I’m gutted that I’m not going to be able to watch the Bills in the Super Bowl. It’s that much worse knowing that I might have to endure yet another Tom Brady Super Bowl. But, for as emotionally worn down as I may be, I don’t want to downplay how special this team is. They are no Cinderella; they aren’t a feel good story. The Bills are on the precipice. And I’m here for it.
In closing, simply, go Bills. Thank you for all of the memories.
Now let’s do the same thing with the Sabres this season.
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 email@example.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).