The phrase “collaboration not competition” is commonly heard throughout the Buffalo brewing community zeitgeist, a simple set of three words, that, when applied to our craft beer scene, fosters a strong sense of community. Those three words bring people and businesses together in an effort to create something memorable, especially when seven local breweries join forces on a new beer to support their local economy. The result, Ohhh Fudge Imperial Fudge Porter, aims to highlight some of the areas smaller breweries, most of which you won’t find in stores.

Available for sale January 15 (5pm), “Ohhh Fudge” Imperial Fudge Porter is a first time ever collaboration featuring Rusty Nickel Brewing, Big Inlet Brewing, Windy Brew, Til Brewing / Lilly Belle Meads, Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing, West Shore Brewing, and Old First Ward Brewing (Gene McCarthy’s), brewed using 100% local ingredients.

Ohhh Fudge is an Imperial Fudge Porter brewed with bochet (toasted) honey that boasts bold flavors of cocoa and toasted honey. Ingredients were locally-sourced from Niagara Malt, New York Craft Malt, 1886 Malt House, NY Hop Guild, and Haunted Hops.

During a time when bars and restaurants are struggling with COVID-19 restrictions, businesses are forced to stay creative, which led these companies, dedicated to doing whatever they can to support local, banded together to brew this beer during the pandemic.

As Rusty Nickel Owner Jason Haven puts it, Ohhh Fudge is a “big beer from the little guys.”

“This is a big beer from the little guys, perfect for a cold day or a delightful dessert. All seven of these breweries deeply believe in local supporting local and exercise it every day. At a time like this, it’s never been more important to support our local economy. This collaboration is about coming together to provide our community a unique to-go beverage that is local from farm to pint,” Havens says.

According to West Shore Owner Josh Dziomba, this collaboration allowed the participating breweries to showcase how far locally grown and sourced ingredients have come, while still affording the brewers the opportunity to step outside the box in the brewhouse while still having some fun.

“This is really a pretty unique beer that we hope showcases what locally grown ingredients can do,” Dziomba says. “NYS malt has come a long way over the last few years, and this beer shows that. Plus, it was interesting to try and blend a lot of different brewing styles into a single beer, while also trying to reach outside of our comfort zones to push the envelope. The rich chocolate and malted oats give a great backbone and the bochet honey adds a really underrated complexity to it.”

OFW Head Brewer Bryan Kirchmyer adds that Ohhh Fudge was a unique experience brewing for him personally, as he does not typically use a lot of adjuncts in his beers at OFW.

“This was a pretty cool collab concept, bringing in multiple breweries to share their ideas and methods,” Kirchmyer says. “I don’t use many adjuncts, so this was fun to see how other guys are doing things. Plus, we all were able to slam some beers like normal human beings, which was effin’ great.”

“A huge part of our brewing scene here in Western New York has always been the camaraderie and collaborative spirit we all enjoyed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Joe Marshall, owner of Til Brewing and Lilly Belle Meads, adds. “This beer was a chance to rekindle that energy and make a big, bold beer that features that spirit, as well as predominantly locally sourced ingredients, and y’know, have a few beverages with good friends.”

Big Inlet Brewing Owner Brent Henderson said that it made perfect for them to participate in this collaboration because the collaboration not competition mantra falls right in line with Big Inlet’s ethos.

“We’re relatively new to the 716 craft brewing scene, and we’ve found the camaraderie amongst the breweries, especially NYS farm breweries, to be well beyond expectations. Our common goal of focusing on all things local when producing amazing, small-batch specialties is truly at the core of what we do. Whenever we can get together and collaborate, especially in times like these, it’s truly a pleasure for all of us, and it ends with delicious results!” Henderson said.

Each brewery will have 10 cases of 16oz. beers available for sale (max. 1 case per customer).

“This was a great experience for me. It was really cool to go and learn from other brewers in the area as well as work along side them. They were super welcoming and super knowledgeable. I came away with a ton of new ideas to try out. I think we made an excellent beer. It really ties in all of the great local resources that we have at our disposal. Super grateful to Rusty Nickel’s crew for setting this up and welcoming us all in. I look forward to doing another collaboration in the future,” Windy Brew’s Russell Haentges says.

Through it all, Ohhh Fudge, this massive collaboration of the mind, body, and spirit of the Western New York beer scene, represents more than the liquid inside the can, it represents the sheer importance of supporting local. It’s been said many times before, especially by this writer, that when you spend your hard earned dollars on a locally crafted product, those dollars stay local. They help to pay taxes and create jobs. Not to mention create some pretty good beer.

“In my opinion, this collaborative project is a culmination of efforts each of us farm brewers has been working towards for quite a while. These efforts include, but aren’t limited to, supporting our local growers and suppliers, educating our dedicated craft beer consumers on the importance of local production, and learning from one another in the process. After this past year, the importance of local, has never been more evident to me. This beer exemplifies that importance!” Five & 20 Head Brewer Paul Alessi adds.

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