After years of preparation, crowd-sourcing and voting, MyCity Brew are finally set to unveil their finished product, Byson Brown Dunkel, a beer named after Mayor Byron Brown, who personally endorsed the name. Byson Brown will officially release May 17 at Pizza Plant Transit (5pm), where the beer will be available exclusively for a week.
The first 15 people in the door get a Byson Brown t-shirt and MCB owner and operator Jonah Epstein will be on hand every day pouring samples and doing giveaways. The beer will be rolled out from there to a number of addition locations (more information, including dates and locations, on those releases coming soon).
It seems like it was forever and a day ago that we all gathered at World of Beer on a cold and rainy night (it was last January) to cast our vote for MyCity Brew’s ultimate Buffalo beer. Epstein explains that many a hurdle arose in the process, including the fact that he did not want to rush a beer market for the sake of getting one out.
“There were plenty of hurdles along the way that added up to cause such a long delay,” he says. “Starting off, I knew I didn’t want to just rush a beer out into the market. Since the concept of the MyCity Brew relies on the community to choose our beer, I had to be sure we collected a representative and reliable sample of votes. It took about a year of losing my voice talking to people at just about every beer festival in WNY, but we collected nearly 10,000 votes by the end, and I think we ended up with the right beer for Buffalo.”
That World of Beer event produced MCB’s final beer choice, a Munich Dunkelweizen. The beer was selected from four test batches that were brewed at 12 Gates Brewing.
“Once we had decided on a dunkel, we had to work out the recipes for the final selection event. Not being an expert brewer myself, I searched around for a brewer who could formulate the four variations of the chosen dunkel. Eventually, I met with the crew at 12 Gates and was thrilled to hear they were willing to take care of the recipe development and test batches (they killed it). We also had a name suggestion contest, which took a few months on its own until we found one that was meant to be: The Byson Brown Dunkel, which was endorsed by Mayor Brown.”
Epstein also explains another major reason for the lengthy delay was licensing. The fact that he also had trouble finding a brewery with enough available capacity to brew the beer didn’t help matters either. Epstein settled on Rochester’s CB Craft Brewers because he couldn’t find a brewery locally that had enough available space. They didn’t have the tweak the recipe either, which was important.
“After the final selection event, one of the main reasons for the delay was dealing with licensing from the SLA. I seriously underestimated the time that would take to get licensed, which ended up being over a six-month process. At the same time, we were dealing with trying to find the right brewery to fit our needs. Unfortunately for me, I found that most of the breweries I approached were running very close to capacity. So, it took a good amount of searching before we landed on CB Craft Brewers. They were able to scale up the recipe to fit their large-scale system without any change in taste from the beer that was chosen at our final selection event. This is definitely the beer Buffalo asked for. So, the relationship worked perfectly for us. Brand label approval was the last hurdle – the process is slightly different for contract brewers and it took us more than a couple of tries to get the application exactly right. But, I did get the green light last week on that so we’re good to go!”
If you didn’t attend that afore mentioning tasting event at World of Beer, you can expect Byson Brown to be ‘a well-balanced, crisp lager,’ Epstein says.
“Picture the drinkability of your favorite light lager, with just a little bit more flavor and backbone. It’s a dark lager, so obviously the color is darker than what you might expect from a typical lager, but the mouthfeel is as light and crisp as any. More than anything, this is a really great middle of the road, go-to beer for anyone in Buffalo to get into: drinkable enough for the masses, but some real flavor for craft beer drinkers. And that’s exactly what we were going for by letting Buffalo choose their own beer.”
I, for one, am quite looking forward to tasting the final product. It’s been a long time coming certainly, and Epstein deserves some modicum of respect for sticking with this despite setback after setback. And there’s something so inherently Buffalo about MyCity Brew’s saga – overcoming hardships and picking yourself up by your bootstraps after getting knocked down consistently – and there is anything this city loves and thoroughly embraces, it’s an underdog.
For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.
Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.