Typically when you celebrate an anniversary, you raise a toast to the occasion. That custom is especially warranted in the case of major milestones like, say, a 200th anniversary. And it just so happens that our very own homeland of Erie County is celebrating their bicentennial, so what better beverage to fill your glasses with for that special toast than a locally made pilsner?

Flying Bison’s EC200: Parks and Rec Pilsner is that very pils, a beer that goes further than just being brewed at a local brewery. It’s also brewed with hops grew right here in Erie County. And if you didn’t know that Erie County was home to a hop farm, Flying Bison patriarch Tim Herzog explains.

“This is a pilsner-style beer brewed with German pilsner malt, traditional hops and Augustiner Lager yeast. We’re also used hops from East Prairie Hop Farm, the only hop farm in Erie County. So we used Erie County grown hops in EC200: Parks and Rec Pilsner,” he says.

The beer will be available at the brewery Friday on draft, and the following Wednesday in bottles, wherever great beer is sold.

Herzog says that the idea for the beer came from the county, who viewed Flying Bison as ‘one-stop shopping’ when it came to brewing and releasing a beer because they have a variety of packaging capabilities, including being able to do both bottles and cans at their facility in Larkin, and the proper distribution channels upon release. Or, as Herzog plainly puts it, “we’re old.”

“Jason Hurley, who works in Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s office, has been to the brewery a few times for events and fundraisers, and knew we are pretty active in the community and knew we had both bottling and canning capabilities, and knew we were with a distributor. He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in this, and, to be honest, why wouldn’t we be? This sounds like a blast. And the more we dug into it, the more fun things we realized we could do with it.”

And if you’re wondering about the name – EC200: Parks and Rec Pilsner, yes, NBC’s classic namesake sitcom did serve as an inspiration for the beer. But it’s not only the name as Herzog succinctly explains; it’s also because the beer fits into Erie County’s blue collar Ron Swanson-like ethos. And if you don’t know who Ron Swanson is, you need to do your homework.

“There is a Parks and Recreation tie in. There is a guy with a mustache, who is a big carnivore, a man’s man kinda guy, who likes to go to restaurants and order the ‘Turf and Turf’ special. Well, here in Erie County, we have a ‘Turf and Turf’ special – a beef on weck and chicken wings. Most bars and restaurants here serve those things, and those are the kind of places that could use a little shot in the arm. So we can go to those places and do a special, hang out, have a couple of beers and a Turf and Turf, and have some fun with this beer,” he says.

A big part of EC200 is to try and mine something positive out of this past lost year, and produce something good during the pandemic. And if they can help some people who may be struggling along the way, then we are all better off because of it. And hey, at least we get a new Flying Bison pils out of it, which is never a bad thing if you ask me.

“That’s kind of the whole spirit of this, to bring something positive out of a pretty shitty year. COVID has been all-consuming, and has been for a lot of us. Let’s do something fun.”

Flying Bison will also be holding three pop-up beer gardens in July and August in county parks, and are planning a beer-centric speaker series at the brewery in the future.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/flyingbisonbrewing.

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 brian@buffalobeerleague.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).