If you’re looking for New Year’s resolutions for 2023 that you might actually keep, how about exploring Western New York and supporting small business, while drinking fresh, locally produced craft beer, mead and cider along the way? If this sounds enticing, you’re in luck, because WNY Beer Trail has launched the 2023 Trail Pass, and it could not be easier to participate.

When you purchase a program booklet, you’ll free or discounted adult beverages at more than 50 breweries, bars, bottle shops, distilleries, cideries, meaderies, and restaurants. While most locations are still offering 2 half price beers, new for 2023 are discounts on flights, food and merchandise. Among the new stops for 2023 are Beer Justice Beer Co., Brazen Brewing, Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizza, Queen City Meadery, Sad Boys Brewing (opening soon), Wandering Gypsy Brewing, Brewed & Bottled Craft Beer Shop, BTR Brews, Eagle House Restaurant, Magic Bear Beer Cellar and Leo’s Pizzeria Orchard Park.

“The Trail Pass is basically a discount book for beer at member breweries and beer bars throughout WNY,” WNY Beer Trail owner Tom Whitmarsh says. “For just $25, you receive the passport sized Trail Pass that gets the holder two half priced beers (some exclusions apply) at each of our member locations. They simply present their Pass to the bartender, receive their discounted beer, and have that member page marked as redeemed. Although there are and have been other similar programs, I feel the Trail Pass is different in the scope and scale of what we’re doing. The Trail Pass has the most member locations in a single book, offering discounts and giveaways.”

Whitmarsh says that it was the breweries, the beer and the brewers themselves that inspired the creation of WNY Beer Trail, an idea born out of date nights with his wife.

“Several years ago, my wife and I started visiting local breweries for our date days. We would have a bite to eat, sample a few beers, and get to talk to the brewers, bartenders, managers and others about their craft. We met so many great people along the way and were blown away by the amazing beer and food we found. Not only that, but the buildings and spaces that house these operations are beautiful. Every chance we had, we would tell others about it and encourage them to experience the same. Then, in January 2019, in a discussion with a friend about the craft beer scene in Buffalo, I said “It would be really cool if something like the Finger Lakes Wine Trail happened here for beer…like a Buffalo Beer Trail.” As soon as I said that, the light bulb went on. I immediately started searching to find out if anyone was doing this. To my amazement, there really wasn’t anything formal out there. After consulting with a couple of other friends, I decided to make it more of a regional thing by going with the name WNY Beer Trail…My intention was to create a “must visit” listing of local craft brewers and supporting bars…Again, I found that although there had been similar programs in the past and a couple of local efforts, there really was not a leading program in this area. After much research, I finally decided to start approaching the breweries about partnering with me on this venture. It took a while, but I found many that were willing to join the effort and become members of WNY Beer Trail. Besides our fantastic local breweries both big and small, I was able to gain member beer bars that are huge supporters of local craft beer…I have been blown away that so many of these great local businesses have been willing to extend themselves and partner with me on this project. I am truly thankful for their willingness to do so.”

A new digital version of the 2023 Trail Pass will also soon be available, along with 3-day and 7-day use passes.

You can purchase a 2023 Trail Pass, along with WNY Beer Trail glasses, shirts and hats, at www.wnybeertrail.com. You can also purchase passes at the Totally Buffalo Store in Amherst and Orchard Park and Buffalo Gift Emporium in Tonawanda.

“The WNY beer scene in my opinion is nothing short of amazing. The quality and creativity coming from these breweries is top notch and rivals any other area known for their craft beer,” Whitmarsh said. “I am especially impressed with the level of partnership among the breweries and the number of collaborations we see coming out all the time. I think when festivals such as the Shelton Brothers Festival choose Buffalo for an event it speaks volumes to what is happening here. WNY is an ideal area for the Trail Pass due to the many amazing breweries we have here. With over 40 so far in the Buffalo area and several more in the planning stages, there are so many options for fans of craft beer to explore and experience the scene.”

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).