Ten beers to try now
While Western New York certainly loves its beer, it’s also fair to say that local drinkers often get mired in the usual big name brands that litter the supermarket aisles and cheap specials at old neighborhood haunts. Here’s a list of ten “off the beaten path” brews that are new to our market. Try them and tell your friends.
1, 2, & 3
Buffalo Brewers Ballpark series 3 pack
This trio of hometown heroes includes one commemorative baseball-theme-designed can of beer from each of three popular local Buffalo breweries. Big Ditch presents Low Bridge, a nicely balanced golden ale and one of its flagship beers at its Ellicott Street brewery. Resurgence offers Summer Saison, a riff on a Belgian favorite with a nuance that bears a citrusy bite with just enough yeast on board to keep a farmhouse ale feel. Community Beer Works rounds out the pack with An IPA, a real team effort, because, as Ethan Cox explains it, “We brewed it at Big Ditch (thanks again, Matt & Cory), so we knew we only had one shot. An IPA sticks completely with the fruit-forward combo of [hop varieties] Citra, Jarrylo, and Hallertau Blanc.”
Forget Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life: this is the retro beer that everyone should be drinking. The uncomplicated and easily quaffable lager has been around since 1890, and has been a New England staple for the better part of the twentieth century—and now it’s being brewed just up the road in Rochester. Robert Shaw’s Quint pounded and crushed a ‘Gansett can while on the hunt for the man-eating great white in 1975’s Jaws.
Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA
What does “throwback IPA” mean exactly? Take the best part of a great India pale ale—the robust tastes of malt and hops—without overpwowering the brew into something that needs to be ever so slowly sipped. Pinner combines all the flavor of a good IPA with the crisp easily drinkable character of a session beer.
Essentially a shandy, this German import takes a traditional Hefeweizen wheat beer and mixes it 50/50 with a very sweet grapefruit juice. Offering a very low alcohol level (2.5%), Schöfferhofer is ideal for the nontraditional beer drinker looking for something breezy. It’s also the perfect starter drink served ice cold on those sunny afternoons of a waning summer and early fall.
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Lemon Chiffon Crueller Ale
The now legendary Oregon brewery Rogue has been at the forefront of craft brewing for almost thirty years and has presented some of the most incomprehensibly terrific twists on beer—including their ongoing collaboration with beloved Portland doughnut stalwart Voodoo. The latest in the series is a mash up of Voodoo’s sweet twisted citrus pastry with the body and finish of a hearty ale.
Rocket Girl Kölsch
Asheville Brewing Company has figured out how to make an excellent session-er with Rocket Girl, taking the traditional kölsch conventions of warm fermenting followed by cold lagering, with a surprisingly hoppy taste and fizzy effervescence. You won’t want to drink just one and with the low ABV (3.2%), you won’t have to. This is ideal paired with BBQ or a wood-fired pizza. (Keep your eyes peeled for it—it’s not easy to find.)
This Texas staple has been the preferred drink of South-by-Southwesters for years, as they bask in the Austin sun and watch bands. In recent months, Shiner Bock (as well as Shiner’s other offerings) have been gracing the shelves of local retailers and the taps of selected area bars. This delicious lager belies its dark color with a crisp and refreshing taste and has managed to make bock—usually a rarified style of beer reserved as a seasonal delicacy—an essential, all year-round thing.
Dark Horse Boffo Brown
Sort of like a super high-test version of the famed Newcastle, this English brown style from Michigan manages to pack a solid 7% ABV without ever feeling overpowering or heavy. Instead, it has a malty richness and a mild, never cloying sweetness. It’s available year round and pairs well with a wide variety of meals.
Longtime area concert promoter Donny Kutzbach writes regularly for Spree on food and drink.