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Buffalo Brewfest now tailored to you - INTERVIEW

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

In Buffalo, we eagerly look forward to the summer’s bill of events, which is actually quite similar from year to year. There’s the Allentown Art Festival, the Taste of Buffalo, Wing Fest, Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival, Music Is Art and a few others that even draw national visitors each summer.

An issue with annual summer events, however, is that they are in danger of becoming routine. Due to their existing popularity, why change the layout and run the risk that people may be disappointed or discouraged to attend?

Buffalo Brewfest—now in its 10th year—runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the First Niagara Center. Tickets purchased in advance cost $30 through Tickets.com, while the price elevates to $38 if bought day-of.

Many of the core details remain the same—each attendee will receive a souvenir tasting glass that holds 3 oz. samples, a helpful program for the evening and 20 tasting tickets.

Additional tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece, while designated drivers are allowed to attend the event for free and receive two tickets for soft drinks (caffeine buzz!). Proceeds from the event support the Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, which you can find more about here.

The purpose behind the event remains the same, too, as the event website neatly notes:

The 2013 Buffalo Brewfest is a true “beer tasting”. This is where you can compare the various styles of beer side by side and discover what you really enjoy. It’s also the perfect opportunity to show your friends or relatives who have been drinking the same brand of beer since 1979 how much they have been missing.

In a short interview with Brewfest founder Tim Herzog, we learned that between 80 and 90 different beers are expected to be served at the event—a few breweries are right up against the entrance deadline—and any total over 81 would set a new Brewfest record.

While the Brewfest website claims that over 150 varieties will be served, you only have 20 tickets from admission, so whether it’s 80 or 150, you’ll still have a smorgasbord of bubbly choices.

Judging from the early commits, a wide range of regions and beer types will be represented. Founders Brewing from Michigan, Yuengling from Pennsylvania, Three Heads Brewing and CB Brewing Company from Rochester, NY, Ithaca Brewing from Ithaca, NY, and Brooklyn Brewing from Brooklyn, NY.

Red ales, amber ales, double IPAs, white beers, lagers, kolsch, pilsners, bocks and porters will please any palate—from craft-beer newcomer to experienced home-brewer with a hankering for rare beer.

What will change, however, is the event’s setup. The fair weather plan is to take over Alumni Plaza outside the First Niagara Center, the atrium on the ground floor, the second floor concourse, some of the suites and even the possibility of using the heart of the arena (where the Sabres’ ice is).

Pyramid beer was on the scene

If there’s rain in the forecast, however, the event will move solely inside, and more of the suites and the arena floor will likely be used. Because more space is available, though, concerns of overcrowding and long lines will be placated.

In addition, instead of making 5,000 tickets available for Brewfest like in years past, capacity has been narrowed to 3,500 in order to give patrons more space and for lines to be a little shorter—both complaints in past years.

As usual, Herzog’s Flying Bison Brewing Company will have a strong presence at the event, closing its retail shop for the day and allowing all the Ontario Street location’s employees to experience the festivities. While Brewfest isn’t low on local representation—Community Beer Works, Gordon Biersch, Pearl Street Brewery, Pan-American Brewery and Ringside Brewing will all have a presence—Flying Bison will set up in the Alumni Plaza in nice weather or in the Poor Man’s Aud Club if it’s raining.

The first stand-alone brewery in Buffalo’s city proper since 1972 has a tradition of unveiling a secret Brewfest cask at the annual party, and Herzog remained tight-lipped about this year’s selection—despite many people pushing.


“[Brewfest] is really a guilty pleasure of mine,” reflected Herzog, craft-beer brewing pioneer and event founder. “A lot of people get together for beer, and there’s really no pressure. People come as dates, as singles, in groups of guys—we’ve had a group of wedding party girls with a bride in a veil—and now people want to get married [in the future] at Brewfest.”

Beerfest floor panoramic

(Photos courtesy of Don Nieman who shot the 2012 Buffalo Brewfest—see his entire gallery here).

TAGGED: breweries, buffalo brewfest, community beer works, first niagara center, flying bison brewing company, tim herzog

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