Craft beer is meant to be fun. And what’s more fun than an imperial stout vertical, especially one from Community Beer Works. Even more so when that imperial stout is The Snow. Introducing the Snowpack, a retrospective imperial stout experience that features bottles of 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 batches of the wintery treat.

Only 30 Snowpacks were available, so last December, CBW held a lottery, which we, sadly, did not win. But thanks (a massive, heartfelt thank you in fact) to our friend JP from Brickyard Brewing, a lottery winner who passed his Snowpack along to us. So, without him and his heroic generosity, this would not have been a possibility.

We decided to crack into the Snowpack for Scott’s 40th birthday celebration, where myself, Scott, Jesse and Mark were together. We also had a few more BBLers – Will, Nick, Danny and Ryan – take part in the special share.

After some discussion, we went oldest to newest, starting with the 2015 vintage. Scott had some reservations about cutting through the lovely multi-colored wax dips, but alas, it had to be done. The 2015 featured notes of dark roast ground coffee, chocolate and vanilla. It drank thinner than we had all expected and was a touch oxidized, though it didn’t detract much from the beer overall.

From there, we fast forwarded to 2017. It was boozier than the 2015 with less of bitter ground coffee note, with more notes of chocolate and vanilla and better carbonation. Personally, this was my favorite one of the bunch.

Jesse perfectly noted that the 2018 vintage tasted like malted milk balls. It had semi-sweet flavors of chocolate and vanilla, just like the rest of the bunch, with a pleasant bitter roasted coffee finish. It was the also least oxidized of the group. This was my second favorite of the vintages.

The 2019 bottle was smooth, with notes of vanilla, chocolate and lightly roasted coffee. This was the easiest drinking version.

Again, I go back to the words I used to begin this article – craft beer is meant to be fun, and honestly, this couldn’t have been more fun. Tastings like this, experiences like this, are a major reason Scott and I started the Buffalo Beer League 11 years ago. We wanted to create an outlet for promoting great local beer experiences like the Snowpack, because, if you didn’t know, there is truly great beer being brewed right here every day in our very own backyard.

Thank you Community Beer Works, thank you JP, for giving us a lasting, memorable experience with the Snowpack. Now bring on the next experience.

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).