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Farm to Pint event serves up local brews and barley

John Russo, founder of Hamburg Brewing Company, explained the process his brewery uses, to make their craft quaffers.

A sunny spring day meant many beer-tasters took to the porch, to enjoy Hamburg Brewing Company’s scenic pond-side view.

HAMBURG — Buffalo may have long, cold winters and sports teams that break hearts more often than records, but it has something else that’s unique to this area: The ability to make beer out of the hops and barley that’s grown right down the street.

The inaugural Farm to Pint event, held at Hamburg Brewing Company on May 18, showcased the marriage of local barley and hops into premium local beers, six of which were available by flight of four or by the pint, at the event.

John Russo, who founded Hamburg Brewing Company last September, said that the event came from “people realizing where beer came from.

Hamburg Brewing Company (interior, above), which opened in Hamburg this past September, hosted the event to show off local craft breweries and their wares, which utilized local products for this event.

“We have the ability, in New York state, to make beer from crops that are grown just miles away. We wanted to highlight that fact: What happens when you make beer, when you make that partnership between the brewer, the grower, the retailers and the consumer.

Growing barley and hops in the Buffalo area is nothing new. The region used to be a main source for the crops, and local farmers are just getting back into it, according to Bill Verbeten, an agronomist with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension. His organization is teaching local farmers, like the North Collins farm where Hamburg Brewing currently gets the goods, how to successfully integrate barley into their rotation.

But why source locally, and why now? Local craft brewers said the time is ripe for using local products.

Craft breweries, of which there are 15 in Western New York, are taking advantage of a new state law passed in 2012 that made a farm-brewery license available and incentivizes the use of ingredients grown in New York. Brewers get a sizable discount if they use crops grown in the state and while Russo said that sourcing barley and hops locally isn’t necessarily cheaper than getting it from out West, there are other benefits.

“In the fall, during harvest season, we’ll be able to be brewing with stuff that just came out of the ground 24 hours prior,” Russo said, with a grin. “Now come on. That’s a local business.”

Other breweries involved in Sunday’s event included Community Beer Works, Big Ditch Brewing Co., Flying Bison Brewing Co., Gordon Biersch and Old First Ward Brewing Co.


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