While the Ontario craft beer scene has just started to really pick up, the US craft scene has been alive and kicking for a good while. We can’t resist checking out the local beer wherever we happen to travel, so we decided this month we’d do an “All-American April” to feature some of the US places we’ve been.
Though we’re only about an hour from the Buffalo border, we don’t get across as often as we’d like to check out the American breweries (blame the currency exchange). That said, here’s a couple of the breweries we’ve been lucky to check out so far within a relatively brief drive from Southern Ontario, with a lot more still remaining on our wishlist.
In the town of Hamburg, NY, about 20 minutes outside of Buffalo, is Hamburg Brewing, a rural brewery with a huge property. The building housing the brew-works and bar is also very large, though the bar area still feels cozy, with stone and wood giving it the feel of a rustic ski chalet.
Out back there’s a gorgeous patio with tables clustered around a pond filled with fat koi. Since we were lucky enough to have dropped by on a sunny summer’s day, we took full advantage of their beautiful outdoor patio.
The beer list was long, with about 12 taps dedicated to their own creations. It was also more creative that we might sometimes expect from a more “local” brewery. Some of our highlights were:
- House Dressing – an American Amber, currently vaulted (but not fully retired), this was an interesting red that certainly had high hops, but also a high maltiness that balanced it very well and gave it an overall caramel tone
- IPA – an IPA even Jessica (a non-bitter-flavour-lover) enjoyed, with both pine and floral hops in the taste, and enough malt to even it all out
- Irish Red – a proper Irish red, smoky and roasty with a malty smoothness despite the smoke.
- Sweet Tang – A very light, sweet, citrus fruit beer brewed with grapefruit and Lemondrop hops, verging very closely into Radler-territory. Certainly refreshing for a hot summer day like we had.
Resurgence Brewing is in an industrial area of Buffalo, and this warehouse brewery was hopping when we were there. The large bar area, with long wooden benches, beer hall style, was packed with groups of friends and families mingling in the casual and comfortable atmosphere, playing bar games or enjoying a couple flights. The great patio out back had a bit of a thinner crowd due to the intense heat the day we were there.
The bar menu had some great snack items on it – exactly what you’d want for beer (like nachoes, pretzels, and pizza – we went for pizza).
The beer list itself was very creative, with a pretty heavy focus on additions to your usual styles with everything from all sorts of fruit to hot peppers to sponge toffee.
Some of our favourites were:
- Smokey the Beer – A Scottish-export style with the smoke dialed right up. As we’re both smoke lovers (see the Irish Red from Hamburg Brewing above as further proof), this was our overall winner at Resurgence
- Mangose – As you might guess by the name, it’s a mango gose. It was heavier on the mango than either the salt or the sour, but a refreshing fruity taste regardless
- Loganberry Wit – Neither of us are familiar enough with loganberry to recognize the taste right away, but this wit had a red berry taste with a bitter berry flavour more akin to a cranberry than a strawberry or raspberry. It was a good match to the coriander of the Wit.
- Chipotle Cinnamon Stout – Burning but interesting. The cinnamon taste came out as the dominant flavour. We were glad we’d tried it, but and this is great as a small taster – but certainly not a particularly sessionable choice.
The Western and upstate New York craft brewing scene is very hot, so we have a ton of breweries left to visit. Such as:
- Big Ditch Brewing
- Flying Bison Brewing
- Woodcock Brothers Brewing
- 12 Gates Brewing
. . . and more.
Visit date: June 24, 2016