Crowds came out to Canalside on Saturday in spite of rain for the first Brewer’s Festival to sample beer from 30 New York brewers and dine on food truck fare.
“This is quite the turnout for how bad the weather is,” said Brian Campbell, a founder of the Buffalo Beer League tasting club, stepping out of the rain and under a tent to talk Saturday. “It just goes to show that our local beer community can support more events like this. … We’re experiencing a boom.”
As the festival began Saturday afternoon, music played and so many people stood by the beer tents with small tasting glasses, and umbrellas, that the taps and servers were obscured. As the first event organized by the newly formed Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association, the festival attracted beer aficionados, music fans and foodies.
About 1,000 sprang for advance tickets, from a $40 regular entry and tasting glass to $75 VIP passes.
Niki Klem went for the VIP ticket because it came with a tasting of pork dishes made with meat raised at T-Meadow Farm in Lockport.
“There’s a neat Rust Belt artisan food and drink revival,” she said.
Klem usually prefers wine, but the sour taste of the pale beer in her glass pleased her.
“It’s like beer and vinegar,” she said. “I like the tartness.”
Tania Klemm and friend Sarah Hulings lounged in Adirondack chairs sheltered from the rain beneath the Skyway overpass.
They came from Erie, Pa., to hang out and hear the blues and jazz of the headline act J.J. Grey & Mofro. Klem liked the Andromeda IPA beer she tried by the Binghamtom Galaxy Brewing Co. The wet weather wasn’t getting in the way of her fun.
“You have a few beers,” she said, “and you forget it’s raining.”
Inside the VIP tent, Noah McIntee, the brewer at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, was trying a Session ale by Flying Bison. It was a perfect pallet cleanser – light, hoppy and refreshing.
He was standing next to Lockport T-Meadow Farm owner Rich Tilyou. Both were waiting in line to sample pasta Bolognese with pork and bison and other dishes made with T-Meadow pork raised on grain leftover from beer making.
Pearl Street was one of two breweries sending from 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of spent grain a week to help feed T-Meadow’s 150 heritage breed hogs.
“Their waste is our benefit,” Tilyou said. “So it’s a full circle.”