In the entire food and drink scene, beer remains the beverage we’re least familiar with. It’s uncommon if we even have a six-pack in the refrigerator. So, when it comes to recommending beer we always turn to our more knowledgeable friends.
Similar to the growing food scene, the Western New York beer scene has expanded well beyond a couple common names. As we all get ready to celebrate National Beer Day, which thankfully falls on a Friday (someone gets an ‘A’ for planning!!), we challenged some friends to give us a couple of their current favorites. Selecting favorites can be a real challenge, and after a lot of back and forth these are the beers our friends suggest:
From Michael Chelus (Nittany Epicurean)
This classic beer from Buffalo’s first nanobrewery is one I’ve long loved. Frank (American Pale Ale) is loaded with piney hop notes laced with tropical fruit. At only 4.6% ABV, it’s an easy-drinking, everyday pale ale that everyone can enjoy.
If the Hayburner from Big Ditch Brewing Company is not the best IPA in Buffalo, it’s certainly in the conversation. You’d be hard pressed to guess that it’s as hefty as it is at 7.2% ABV as it drinks like it were much lighter.
The Enforcer (Double IPA) from 42 North Brewing Company is designed for those who love hops. At 10% ABV, you’d expect it to be very boozy, but the bright citrus notes it touts balance the alcohol quite well.
When Rudy Watkins announced he was leaving Community Beer Works to become head brewer at Mike Shatzel’s first restaurant/brewery, I was immediately excited. His beers have yet to disappoint me. Hop Pants #1 (IPA) from Thin Man Brewery is part of the Hop Pants series that all start with Amarillo and Simcoe hops.
XPA (Experimental IPA) is Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company experimental, evolving hop series IPA. Each version has been more popular than the last. People line up at the brewery in Wilson and other select locations just to grab a few four packs each time it is released.
From Benjamin Jones (Assistant Winemaker at Leonard Oakes Winery):
From WNY Brews (Weekly Podcast about WNY Beer)
The 42 North Borderland IPA (American IPA) is full of powerful tropical and citrus flavors from the use of amarillo, citra, and simcoe hops. Whenever possible, get the white oak aged version. This is still my favorite IPA, local or otherwise.
The Thin Man Burning Money is perfect for those who like their IPA’s “juicy”. Very little bitterness in this citrus bomb from one of Buffalo’s newest breweries.
I approached the Hamburg Brewing Company Blackberry Gose with some hesitation. I generally prefer my sour beers clean and without fruit, fearing they may end up masking the malt flavor. The Blackberry Gose doesn’t overpower in any area. It’s so refreshing on a hot day, you could open and finish a growler while mowing the lawn.
From Chris Kozody (The Fermentable Wizard of Koz)
Southern Tier Live is a year-round winner and definite go-to; an easy drinking session IPA with great bitter balance and stellar citrus flavors.
My seasonal favorite is the Hamburg OMS, from Hamburg Brewing Company. It’s a delicious stout with rich chocolate and roasty flavors that are buoyed by the oatmeal for a slick mouthfeel, all without being heavy. Immensely drinkable.
A limited favorite is Resurgence Bourbon Barrel Sponge Candy Stout. A barrel version of their year-round stout, you get dessert and a shot in this bottle. Bourbon flavors play incredibly well with the delicate candy flavors of the base beer. Wish I brought home more.
Still looking for some local beer?
Shauna (@shaunapiranha) says to check out:
12 Gates Brewing Company, 42 North Brewing Company, and Thin Man Brewery.
We also think you should visit Resurgence Brewing Company on one of your next outings, as that was our first WNY brewery experience after we moved back home last year.
So cheers from afar, friends! Happy National Beer Day!