2015 has been an incredible year in the Buffalo beer scene. Numerous breweries have opened and an efflux of fresh local beer has flooded bars, tap rooms, and shelves across Western New York.
Here’s a look at my top 10 “Brewery-to-Buffalo” signature beers of 2015. These beers are available year round at local Western New York breweries. You can stop into any brewery on this list and find each and every beer. Also known as “mainstays”, these beers are certain to be poured in Buffalo beer drinker pints for a long time.
Stay tuned for my brewery rankings, soon to follow.
10. Aviator Red (Irish Red Ale, ABV: 5.5%) by Flying Bison Brewing Company
As with the majority of Flying Bison’s fleet, this beer is crafted true to style with expat ingredients. Dubbed “Buffalo’s favorite red ale”, this beer is malty and medium-bodied. But what sets this beer apart from the rest of Irish red squad is its slightly spiced hop flavors. Click to read my review of this beer here.
9. Trainwreck (Altbier, ABV: 4.5%) – Pearl Street Grill & Brewery
Trainwreck is a medium-bodied, medium strength German Amber ale. Trainwreck has a rich malty aroma and flavor and contains modest hop additions. This beer has been described as smooth, drinkable, balanced, classic, nutty, and a “perfect amber”. Trainwreck is a sweet beer (pun intended) to load up on before heading over to a Sabres game. Click to read my review of Pearl Street Grill & Brewery here.
8. Slice O’ Havens (Cream Ale, ABV: 9.8%) – Rusty Nickel Brewing Company
The most overheard comment about this beer is, “It tastes just like a creamsicle!” But at nearly 10%, this particular creamsicle is more than just a sweet treat. This Rusty Nickel mainstay is a double cream ale that contains blended flavors of navel orange and vanilla. Click to read my review of a Rusty Nickel backer event here.
7. Excavator (American Brown Ale, ABV: 5.8%) – Big Ditch Brewing Company
Big Ditch brewers use seven different malts to fill the front end of this beer with chocolate and a deep richness, and yet this beer finishes dry. Rye flakes smack this beer in the back end with spice. This beer anchors a solid core of signature beers not only at the Big Ditch tap room, but Excavator anchors brown ale fans across Western New York. Can you dig it? My review of Big Ditch can be viewed here.
6. The Whale (American Brown Ale, ABV: 5.9%) – Community Beer Works
The second American Brown Ale in a row on this list, and yet quite distinct from the last. The Whale is layered with plenty of coffee and chocolate. And although the Whale opens its jaws with imposing dark flavor, it finishes with a smooth hop accent after every gulp. Along with Frank and That IPA, The Whale completes a trifecta of year-round offerings by nano-brewery Community Beer Works. Brown Ale fans may be obsessed with tracking down this big Buffalo fish… err… mammal. My review of Community Beer Works can be viewed here.
5. Resurgence IPA (American IPA, ABV: 7.1%) – Resurgence Brewing Company
Pop open a can of this IPA and just take a big whiff. Hop aromas explode out of the can right into your nostrils like a shaken can of Vernor’s. Grapefruit, citrus, and pineapple mist ooze from the can and the taste is just as impressive as the aroma. Between tropical fruit layers is a pleasant bitter hop presence. Resurgence IPA is now available across the city, from the brewery to the First Niagara Center. For my review of this beer click here.
4. This is Not A Pale Ale (American IPA, ABV: 5.8%) – Old First Ward Brewing Company
Old First Ward residents know this beer… all too well. Gene McCarthy’s, and its neighboring brewhouse, have a firm grasp on the beer scene in South Buffalo. This beer, abbreviated by locals as “Nota”, does not disappoint. Seemingly harmless and deceivingly drinkable, Nota is crisp, hoppy, and tasty. This beer is well-rounded: not too hoppy, not too malty, and crafted well. Head to Gene McCarthy’s for one of these beers, and you might leave after four. Click to read my review of this establishment here.
3. Coffee Porter (American Porter, ABV: 5.1%) – 12 Gates Brewing Company
Newcomer on the scene, 12 Gates is crafting a coffee porter. Infused from coffee obtained from Glen Edith Coffee Roasters in Rochester, NY, the cold-brewed, micro-roasted coffee elevates this beer into the atmosphere. This beer tastes like chocolate, smoke, toffee and coffee. Could this be a morning beer? Yes. Afternoon? Sure. Shower beer? Preferred. You get the point. This Coffee Porter might just pull the tablecloth out from underneath the IPA-heavy selections at 12 Gates, but the IPAs are sure to impress as well. One of these beers is not like the others… can you find it?
2. That IPA (American IPA, ABV: 6.2%) – Community Beer Works
The fact that Community Beer Works occupies two of the top six spots is not by accident, but by hard work and dedication. Community Beer Works’ That IPA is a bold Buffalo beer statement. Take heed to this modestly-named IPA, for this IPA could very well be called “The Best IPA in Buffalo”. That IPA is loaded with lots of hops, loads of flavors and plenty of aromas. Pine, peach and stone fruits combine with a soft malt character. This Community Beer Works mainstay is masterfully crafted, and That IPA will remain a Buffalo favorite.
1. Hayburner (American IPA, ABV: 7.0%) – Big Ditch Brewing Company
Occupying the top slot of Brewery-to-Buffalo beers is one of Big Ditch Brewing Company’s year round offerings, Hayburner. This beer is indeed a strong and sturdy beast of burden. Hayburner packs quite a kick, but shoulders the load quite nicely. Hayburner is brimming with strong hop bitterness, caramel malt sweetness, and piled high with grapefruit and orange flavors. Caramel malt provides just the right amount of sweetness and is yoked together nicely with various hops flavors. Hayburner is blanketed by dependable crisp clean hops. Click to read my Artvoice review of this beer here.