A decade of local beer: Buffalo Beer Week turns 10

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Buffalo Beer Week starts September.

Now in its tenth year, the event started when there were only a handful of breweries in Buffalo and the craft beer scene was just developing.

Buffalo Beer Week was inspired by beer festivals in other cities like Philadelphia and New York City, BBW organizer and Buffalo restaurateur Mike Shatzel said.

“With Buffalo being a drinking town and a beer town, we thought it was time to take the craft beer movement in buffalo to another level ,” Shatzel said.

Shatzel, Pizza Plant owner Dan Syracuse, and Bill Metzger got together at Pizza Plant to discuss it, Syracuse said.

“[We] were trying to figure out how to spread the good word of craft beer in Buffalo,” Syracuse said. “We saw that the surge of drinkers who knew quality beer was on the rise.”

The inaugural event kicked off as a grassroots movement with events at venues like Cole’s and Pizza Plant.

“Year One was a great thing, and ten years later, you have multiple locations doing things, breweries- it’s really taken off,” Shatzel said.

Since the first Buffalo Beer Week, the number of breweries in the area has grown from a few to 40 in the Buffalo-Niagara region alone.

“Tastes have evolved dramatically, so has the quality and the diversity of the beer,” Syracuse said. “Every week there’s a new style evolving.”

Syracuse said that some of the trends he’s noticed is that while clear IPAs used to be popular, about 80 percent of them are now hazy.

Fruit beers have gained in popularity, as have classic pilsners and lagers.

“Some of the standard pilsners and lagers are kind of getting a boost as a palate cleanser,” Syracuse said. “You have to have that as your baseline, and extreme beers as well.”

Shatzel said that social media apps like Untapped have helped to bolster interest in craft beer.

If you’re not a big craft beer fan, Buffalo Beer week is a great time to try something new.

Syracuse said that non-craft beer drinkers often enjoy Belgian tripels because “it reminds them more of spirits”.

“Listen to the bartender at most of the bars around the city that serve craft beer- they’re going to help you to change your habits and get out of drinking beers that spend more on advertising than they do on products,” Syracuse said.

Shatzel suggested local pilsners and lagers for those starting to get into craft beer.

“Don’t give up on craft beer because you don’t like one style,” Shatzel said. “Ask for a fruit beer, ask for a porter or stout- it’s such a wide range of flavors.”

Buffalo Beer Week runs Sept. 13 to 22. CLICK here for more information.

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