I’ve said it many times before, and I’m sure this is far from the last time I’ll utter these words, I am constantly impressed by this beer scene. In terms of quality, consistency and variety, I’d put the Buffalo / Western New York beer scene up against any other. It seems that every week, some brewery is holding a can’t-miss release for some must-drink beer. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sometime ago, someone said to me, ‘it’s alright to drink the same beer twice,’ a sentiment that has stuck with me. This year I drank plenty of the classics – Hayburner, Sticky Trees, The Whale and Cosmic Truth among them – but thanks to our local breweries packaging more and more in 2019, I’ve had the chance to fall in love again with a number of WNY staples, including 42 North Brewing’s Borderland IPA and Community Beer Works’ Let’s Go Pils. I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time with these beers as of late.
This list was nearly impossible to compile. When I originally wrote it, I had three and four times the amount of beers listed, and whittling it down was a tough task. But, after a lot of back and forth with myself, I was able to come out of this process with my top 10 local beers from 2019. Here’s hoping you enjoy.
1. Resurgence Brewing Dallas Is Going Down Gary! Buffalo-Style IPA
Smooth, creamy, soft and bursting with tropical fruit – this beer was a treat. And everything else that goes with it, the can art, the name, the fact that the Bills trounced the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, makes it just that much more special.
2. Big Ditch Brewing Lock IPA Series: Dart
I could have listed a few of Big Ditch’s Lock IPA Series here (as you’ll see below in the Others Receiving Votes section), but Dart takes the cake for me. Apricot, peach, dank, overripe pineapple. Resinous mouthfeel. Lovely.
3. SATO Brewpub J-Pop: Hand Me Down Mom
The best of SATO’s J-Pop Sour Series in my opinion. Nice blend of equal parts ripe blueberry & passionfruit. Lightly tart. Refreshing.
4. Hamburg Brewing Just Saying Volume 2: Swear Jar IPA
I’ve had nearly every beer Hamburg has brewed since they opened, and this IPA is amongst the very best they have ever produced. Herbacious, earthy citrus with a soft finish. Super smooth with a firm hop presence/bite. Just Saying, Volume 1 is also worth noting.
5. Thin Man Brewery / Prairie Artisan Ales Kawaii Me A River Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
I literally took sick time from work to go to Thin Man to get this beer. All three of the Thin Man x Prairie BA collabs were amazing, but this one was the best. Dangerous. Creamy. Smooth. Booze, chocolate, vanilla. My goodness.
6. 42 North Brewing Strawberry Brewbarb Pie Gose
42 North has dialed in their gose game over the past year. And while Halt, Who Gose There? might be the best beer they’ve ever brewed, this Strawberry Rhubarb Gose was delectable. Bright berries, kiwi and sweet, tart rhubarb. This is freaking juice.
7. Steelbound Brewery x Lost Borough Forbidden Juice Sour IPA
This is hands down the best beer Steelbound has ever brewed. Fresh raspberry, blackberry, lemon and lime with a tart finish. Really good. I’d love to drink this beauty again.
8. Rusty Nickel Brewing Buffalo Beer Week Buffalo-Style Milkshake IPA
Continuing with the best of trend, this Buffalo-style Milkshake IPA brewed exclusively for Buffalo Beer Week was the best beer I’ve ever had from Rusty Nickel. This was also one of the best beers this fall at the BBW Opening Gala at Flying Bison. Lots of bright fruit in this one.
9. Pressure Drop Brewing x Big Ditch Aqua Jesus Triple IPA
When I first met Karl from Pressure Drop, I told him I couldn’t wait for him to start dropping Triple IPA’s, a woefully underrepresented style in this city. Well, with a little help from the good folks at Big Ditch, he nailed it with Aqua Jesus – big and sticky apricot and mango that’s drinkable for its 11.9% ABV.
10. Flying Bison Brewing Paula’s Peanut Stick Porter
Brewed in conjunction with Paula’s Donuts, who are coming to Larkin next year, Paula’s Peanut Stick Porter is a great – peanut donuts, chocolate, vanilla and roasted coffee. I liked it slightly better on draft, but that’s a minor foible.
Honorable Mention: Brickyard Brewing White Bronco IPA and West Shore Green Flyer IPA. I listed these beers here because, while I did drink an exorbitant amount of both in 2019, they weren’t necessarily new beers, just new to being available in cans. Because of that, I just wanted to give them their own section on this list. Both are sublime IPA’s and two of the most underappreciated in the area.
Others receiving votes: Belt Line A Beer With Nelson IPA, Community Beer Works Parti-Kyle Barleywine, Pressure Drop Faded Clauz Imperial Milk Stout, Big Ditch x New Belgium Brewing Lock IPA Series: Folly, Froth Brewing Cinnamon French Toasted Imperial Milk Stout, One Eyed Cat Brewing Maenads Kiss Smoked English Barleywine, Hamburg Just Saying Volume 1: We’re Just Having Fun, Dammit! IPA, Resurgence R&D IPA 19, Thin Man Peanut Butter Awesome Jenkins Imperial Stout, Thin Man Citra Double Dry Hopped Trial By Wombat New England IPA, Belt Line Double Jusey Sour.