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NYS Craft Brewers Festival returning to Buffalo to celebrate ‘vibrant industry’

Paul Leone of New York State Brewers Association
Tom Dinki
Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association, speaks at Resurgence Brewing Company in Buffalo Aug. 30, 2021, about the New York State Craft Brewers Festival coming to Buffalo Sept. 25.

The New York State Craft Brewers Festival is coming back to Buffalo, making the event’s return after two years and a celebration of the brewing industry’s growth in the state over the last decade.

The event is set for Sept. 25 at Canalside, and will feature over 45 breweries from across the state, including 25 from Western New York.

The New York State Brewers Association typically holds several of these festivals in a given year, but this will be its first since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“We're so excited to be doing it here in Western New York in such a booming craft beer scene,” said Chloe Kay, the Brewers Association’s marketing and communications director. “These festivals are so important to share and showcase all of the great beer being produced throughout the state.”

Kay and other Brewers Association, as well as local elected officials, were at Resurgence Brewing Company Monday to tout the festival. The Chicago Street brewery, opened in 2019, is at the site of the former E.B. Holmes Machinery Company building, first constructed over a century ago. Resurgence is one more than one of 40 breweries across Western New York.

It’s exactly the kind of thing state lawmakers were hoping for when they eased regulations and enacted tax breaks for the brewing industry back in 2012, according to state Sen. Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo.

“Every week, every month, there seems to be a new one opening,” he said. “Many of these breweries are breathing life into historic buildings, and helping re-energize our neighborhoods.

“A little change in the law, a little tweak here and there and look what we have: We have a vibrant industry,” he added. “It's fun. It uses local products, local labor. So we're on track.”

There were a little under 100 breweries in New York State in 2012. Now, there are nearly 500, the second most of any state in the nation behind California.

That growth has slowed down since the pandemic began, but the Brewers Association says it still ended 2020 with a net gain of 26 breweries. It estimates they’re a $5.4 billion industry responsible for 20,000 jobs.

New York State Brewers Association Executive Director Paul Leone said the industry’s expansion over the last decade, and its survival over the last 18 months, was possible due not only to support from Albany, but also from the very people who will be attending the Buffalo festival.

“The consumer really rallied and has been rallying through COVID and supporting local business,” he said. “Without the consumer and without the consumer going out and buying local beer, a lot of these breweries in Buffalo and around New York State wouldn't be open today.”

The association says it will be following health guidelines for large gatherings, and have sanitation stations throughout the festival. More information can be found at thinknydrinkny.com/buffalo.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.