Brewed in New York – Greater Niagara Region Full Episode

Brewed in New York – Greater Niagara Region Full Episode


– There is so much to
do in western New York, especially in the summertime. – Today we’re hitching a ride
with Buffalo Pedal Tours, taking in the scenery
and craft beer scene of the city of good neighbors. – Also in this episode
we’ll be visiting a farm in Niagara county. Should we take this to there? – Well, that’s pretty far. We’ll see how much
energy we have. Join us for Brewed in New
York, Buffalo-Niagara. at Taste New York locations
throughout the state. Whether you’re at a
state park, sporting event, or stopping at one of our
New York welcome centers, it’s never been easier
to choose local and buy New York. Unalam, a family owned business
in upstate New York serving the building industry
for over a century. You can spot Unalam’s finely
crafted timber products in breweries throughout New York
State and beyond. Learn more at unalam.com 1886 Malt House proudly partnering with
New York’s finest grain growers to produce locally sourced,
high quality malt. for farm and craft breweries. The Northeast Hop Alliance Farmers, brewers,
and educators working together to
provide high quality, locally grown hops
to craft beer consumers in New York and
the Northeast. (upbeat rock music) – Like many people, when
you hear the word Buffalo, the first thing that
comes mind might be this. (wind howling)
(mooing) – But while Buffalonians
do love a good blizzard, you have to in order to
live that close to the Great Lakes, tourists
flock to greater Niagara in all four seasons. – [Maya] Of course Niagara
Falls wows over eight million visitors each year, but
you’ve also got Letchworth State Park, known as the
Grand Canyon of the East. – [Matt] And the Iroquois
National Wildlife Refuge, one of the best-kept
secrets of western New York. – Buffalo proper is a
richly historic city with stunning architecture. – [Matt] That’s why when
we set out to explore the breweries of Buffalo
we did it in a way that would truly
allow us to appreciate the urban landscape. – That beer bike
was so much fun. – It was. What a great way to travel
between Buffalo breweries. I also burned a lot
of calories that day. Check it out. – Maya, have you ever
been to Big Ditch Brewing Company before? – Not yet. – Well you should be
really excited because they have got some
amazing beer there. I went there last night and
had the Deep Cut Double IPA. It’s dank.
it’s juicy. It tastes like melon, so good. – That sounds wonderful,
and while I can’t wait, I’m gonna head there
right after this. Thanks for the recommendation. (upbeat rock music) – [Maya] The Big Ditch,
a surprising name for a brewery perhaps,
but I knew there would be a good story behind it. So I talked with
co-founder Matt Kahn to dig up the details. – What inspired the name? – The name Big Ditch actually
pays homage to the Erie Canal. Back in the 1800s this
giant waterway was proposed to link all of New York
state all together. It was something that people
thought was almost ludicrous. Back then there was no
construction equipment. It was all pretty
much dug by hand. So because of how
large this project was, and the amount of work
that would go into it, nobody believed that it
would actually get built. And so it became known
as Clinton’s Ditch, for Governor Dewitt
Clinton, who was New York state’s governor at the time. He had championed this project. Well, it took eight years,
and when it was done, it was sort of the
engineering accomplishment of its time and a catalyst
for Buffalo’s growth actually. And so we’re inspired by
this story of what hard work accomplished for
the city of Buffalo. And then because of that
we named our brewery Big Ditch Brewing Company. – [Maya] The Big Ditch
theme is fully integrated in the design of this
brewery’s high-end tap room. Larger-than-life imagery
of the Erie Canal provides a constant reminder of the
project’s historic innovation. This engineering wonder is
particularly inspirational to the brewery’s founders,
whose scientific background has been critical
to their success. Tell me a little bit
about the origin story of this brewery. – Myself and my parter
Corey Catalano, who is our head brewer, we both used to
work in the biotech industry, and we used to get these
buckets of raw material we would use in our product
and use the material and just throw away the bucket. And Corey sort of had
the idea that it’s a pretty nice bucket. It’s actually a
food-grade bucket. I bet I could turn
this into a fermenter and make beer in it. Making beer is an
art and a science, but it is quite
a bit of science. It’s biology and chemistry. That’s what we’re good at. We were working in a lab. From there I thought,
“Maybe we could turn this into a business.” I knew that craft beer
was growing like crazy all over the country,
but yet Buffalo only had three craft breweries
at the time. How about opening a brewery? – [Maya] So, open
a brewery they did. But there were a few
steps between bucket fermentation and
downtown destination. Matt and Corey connected
with business savvy partners Wes Froebel
and Paul Iskalo to build a brew pub
dedicated to quality and poised for growth. – When Matt and Corey
first approached me it was obvious that these guys
were passionate about the beer. The four of us when
we teamed up, we found that our philosophies
and our interests were very much aligned. – They are very detail-oriented. They will produce a
pilot batch of beer over and over and over
again until we get it just right before
we put it on our full production system and
sell it to the customers. – I think the most
important thing in the craft brewing, or really any
industry where you’re making a product that people
expect to get the same thing every time, so consistency. And a lot of that just
comes from just measuring everything you potentially
can, and then keeping everything that you have
within your control. – We’re constantly
recording everything. We have a ton of
documentation just make every single batch of beer. We do some things in the
brewery that probably other breweries don’t
really do because we’re trying to make
the beer better. – [Maya] The scientific
approach to brewing has been a winning
formula for Big Ditch. This is evident not only
in the crowds that flock to their upscale tap
room, but the popularity of their signature beers. – Right now my favorite’s
probably Deep Cut, which is our double
IPA, and then Excavator is our rye brown ale. It’s an American brown
ale, but we add rye malt to it, which really
helps dry out the finish on what would otherwise
be a very sweet and malty profiled beer. – Our beers have come
across to the local Buffalo consumers very well. We’ve been awarded
recently a silver medal for double IPA Deep Cut. We’ve also been named
the best craft brewery in New York state at the
2016 TAP New York festival. – The demand for beer has
been so great that we’re gonna triple the capacity
of our existing brewery from 5,000 barrels a year
to 15,000 barrels per year. We’re also going to be
putting in a canning line, so we can service the
market in some off-premise sales as well. Pretty exciting. – [Maya] But not matter how
big the Big Ditch grows, the founders of this brewery
are determined to remain firmly entrenched
in their hometown. Why Buffalo? Why did you decide to
open your brewery here? – This is the only place we
ever wanted to open our brewery. We wanted to do something
great for Buffalo. Buffalo also has a really
rich history with regards to beer as well. There used to be 35
breweries in the Buffalo city limits alone. And so we wanted to add
to that, and we’ve helped to revitalize the
area a little bit. – How do you engage with
local business and your communities around you? – You know Buffalo is known
as the city of good neighbors. Many of the local
businesses around the area are also our customers,
so we have a very good relationship with many of them. We use many different
kinds of local ingredients in our food here,
prepared for our brew pub. And we enjoy the same
for our beer as well. You’ll find that the terroir
of what you get locally is different from you
get around the country, so you might find some
unique flavor profiles. And then we’re also helping
our another local vendor. – What makes you proud
about being part of the New York state
brewery community? – The kinds of breweries
that are opening, and the quality of beer
being made by New York is getting better all the time. So we’re obviously proud
to be part of a state that’s just making
really good beer. Buffalo’s also come a
really long way in just a short amount of
time, and we feel like we’re part of leading
that charge, and so we’re really happy to do that
for Buffalo and the state of New York. – More and more people
are coming to appreciate locally crafted beer,
and lucky for us there are more and more ways
to enjoy it responsibly, like taking a guided
pedal tour or hopping on public transportation. On this show we
encourage you to go out and explore New York breweries. But, just as a reminder, when
you do never drink and drive. Plan ahead. Be smart, and keep us all safe. After the trip to Big
Ditch it was back on the beer bike to explore
downtown Buffalo. – [Matt] I asked our
tour guide Ken about what inspired him to create this
unique beer tourism experience. Ken, tell us a little bit
about Buffalo Pedal Tours. – Well Buffalo Pedal Tours was
started in September of 2014. We’ve grown into the
biggest beer bike company in the Northeast. We do all kinds of tours. We do an architectural tour
called Beer and Architecture, which is very, very popular. We also do progressive
dinners, and we do pub crawls. – How many tours do
you run in a day? – On a weekend we can run
up to 22 tours in a day. – I took a long walk
around the city yesterday, but just on this tour because
we go so much further, I’ve seen so much of the city. It’s gorgeous. – Yeah, we have a
lot of history here. You know it’s really
cool because we share the history with the
whole state because of the Erie Canal, which linked
the Hudson River to Buffalo. The city just exploded in
the late nineteenth century, and just look at our buildings. We have the evidence to show
what a great city we are. – [Matt] Maya and I
definitely felt the pride that went into the architecture that
we saw on our downtown tour. First we passed the
Liberty Building. It was originally built
as a bank and features two miniature Statue of
Liberty replicas on its roof. Between which Didier
Paquette completed a famous tightrope walk in 2010. – [Maya] Then we rode by
one of the most recognizable buildings on the Buffalo
skyline, City Hall. This art deco building was
constructed in the 1920s to help deal with theng was
explosive population growth to help deal with the
explosive population growth that had occurred
over previous decades. – [Matt] But the most
memorable stretch was riding down Main Street, seeing
the iconic Shea’s Theater, which over its history
has hosted acts as diverse as Frank Sinatra and the Marx
Brothers to Elvis Costello. For a city of its size, Buffalo
is truly an architectural treasure trove. It’s enough to make
you stop and think, except we weren’t allowed
to hold up traffic. (school bell ringing) – [Announcer] Craft 101. – Even if you’re new to
craft beer, you probably know the two main
ingredients in this beloved beverage are water and
grain, and grain is what transforms that colorless
water into a rainbow of gold and brown hues. The best grains for beer
are cereal grains like barley, wheat, and rye,
but barley is far and away the fan favorite of
brewers everywhere. Why? Well, barley is a hearty
crop that can grow in fairly rough conditions. Here in New York that
is certainly helpful. It’s also packed with
starch, and starch is what converts to alcohol. So, yeah, that’s important too. Barley is an ancient
grain and was first cultivated about 10,000 years
ago in the Fertile Crescent. A plus if you remember
that from grade school. And today almost all of
the barley produced around the world goes
into brewing beer. Whether barley, wheat,
or rye, all grains must be malted before they
can be used to make beer. Malting involves a process
of wetting, aerating, and drying the grains in order
to get them to germinate. But germinate just enough
to produce the enzymes needed to break down the
grain’s own starch content during brewing. Once the grains have sprouted
they are placed in a kiln to stop germinating and dry out. Okay, now germinate. Okay, now stop. Talk about mixed signals. Then just like coffee
beans it can be toasted or roasted to bring out
deeper flavor and color. At the brewery malted
grain is crushed in a mill, and then soaked in hot
water in a vessel called a mash tun. This pulls out all the
sugars which can be converted to alcohol. At this point, the
grain’s work is done. The spent grain is
pulled from the mash tun, and can be composted or
used to feed farm animals. Whew, I’m spent just
talking about it. I’d like to propose a toast
to those hard working grains. – The Brewers Association
defines craft beer in terms of the brewers who make it:
small, independent, traditional. But any brewer knows that
to brew a truly great craft beer you need to start
with the best ingredients. We’re here today at Niagara
Malt, learning what it takes to grow the finest
hops and grain for New York’s craft brewers. – My name is Bob Johnson. I am co-owner and head
maltster of Niagara Malt. We also grow hops, so
kind of a dual operation. I consider myself an
artisanal malt house. I limit my batches
to one ton at a time, so that I can give
them fairly intensive personal care. Every kernel gets seen
by me at some point. I’ve always been interested
in sustainable agriculture. I’m fairly confident we
can produce quality hops, organically grown. – [Matt] I was lucky
enough to get a personal tour of Niagara Malt’s
one-and-a-half acre hop yard, which lies on a property
that was originally sited for a vineyard. Bob credits the breeze
provided by the sloping land for keeping the fungus at bay. Combining this topographical
advantage with innovative farming techniques enables
Bob to grow and harvest some of the happiest
hops in the state. Your farm looks different
than the typical hop farm. Can you tell me about
some of the differences? – Well to begin with, I
grow on a 10-foot system, as opposed to the
traditional 18 to 20 feet. I use a netting system,
about a one-foot grid. After they hit about
10 feet, I’ll cut the apical bud off, and that
induces lateral branching, so it’ll begin to fill in
along the laterals here. – So in a couple
months, I won’t be able to see through this? – That is correct. The system I have does
have an achilles heel, and that is it is hand picked. For instance, I have picked
cones, and they’re not quite what I want. They may have a little
fungal infection to them or something, so those
can be discarded. Where when you have
an automatic harvester that most of the tall
systems utilize now, they just shoot through,
and you don’t always see what you’re getting. So here is a good example of
sometimes small is better. So You can see the little of
somlaterals coming out now. You can see the little
laterals coming out now. – Yeah. – And you might notice
from some, small flowers. These are referred
to as the hop burr. You want all female flowers. You do not want pollination
because then you would get seed set, and
that would alter the flavor of the cone. Plus, the cone has
oily seeds in them. – Well I could talk
about hops all day, but there’s a lot
more that you do here. I would love to see
the malting facility. – Well it’s just
a short walk away. – Let’s do it. Bob uses a multipurpose
one-ton vessel to malt his grains. This unimalter is capable
of carrying out all the critical phases of malting,
from steeping and germination to aeration and kilning
in a single tank. We’re inside the malt
house now, and Bob is going to show me some grains
that are in the process of being malted. I’m really excited to
learn this process more. What do you have here? – This is destined
to be a pilsner malt. Pilsner malts will be the
lightest roast that I do. – And if you roasted it
more, could you turn this into another …? – Oh, yeah. Each incremental increase
in temperature will produce maybe slightly
more pronounced biscuit aromas, biscuit flavor,
as well as darkening. – So let’s do it. What do we have to do? – So the next step. I will go into the malt tank. – You’re gonna hop right in? – I’m gonna hop right in. (grunting) – Oh man, I can tell already
this is the hard work here. – Oh yes it is. As a matter of fact, once
I started this actively I dropped my gym membership. I get a sufficient
upper-body workout here. But you know, I
could use some help. Would you like to come up? – Yeah. Whoa. The grains currently in
Bob’s tank have already gone through germination
and are almost ready to be roasted. But they tend to stick
together, so they need to be broken up so that
the air can get to them. – [Bob] There you go. And shake it. See how it fluffs right up. – Yeah, yeah. – That’s the goal. You want it to get
fluffy and allow the air to flow through it as evenly
and thoroughly as possible. – Maybe I’ll be able to
cancel my gym membership. – Well you’ll have to
take bigger scooploads than that, young man. (laughing) Craft brewers are realizing
that New York malt is as good if not better
than some of the more mass-produced malts. Many of the larger malt
houses will contract for their grain. They’ll specify the
varieties of grain that they want, kind of
mix it as it comes in. It’s going to be very
homogeneous because they want consistency. I, for instance, will
select one to several different varieties
of malting barley for their characteristics. And instead of blending
I will maintain and alter the conditions of my malting
specifically for that variety. I malt for the
characteristics of the grain. – [Matt] Bob’s single-batch
approach has made his artisanal ingredients
increasingly popular among brewers across
the state and beyond, especially those looking
to celebrate the natural diversity of each harvest. And with many Buffalo-based
breweries using Niagara Malt to differentiate
their recipes, Bob is proud to be a part of the unique
flavor of western New York. – Well Matt, I’ve
got a treat for you. We’re holding two beers
from the Buffalo Brewers Series, made with Niagara Malt. It’s a collaboration
project between Community Beer Works, Big Ditch
and Resurgence Breweries in Buffalo. – That’s great. That’s made out of the
same malt that is sitting in these bags over here. – That is correct. – Amazing. Well let’s stop talking about
it, and let’s drink ’em. – Sounds like a plan. (tops popping) Oh, that’s refreshing. – It’s very, very nice, and
exactly what I want to drink after some hard, hard work. – Well I’ll drink to that. – So listen, thank you
so much for sharing these beers and for letting
me jump into the kiln and for showing me
around the place. It’s been a pleasure. My trip to Niagara Malt
was really eye-opening. What a great way to get a
first-hand understanding of the hard work that goes
into growing beer ingredients. – I bet. I can’t believe you
jumped into that tank. – I know, right? And that beer that we
sampled was actually a collaboration beer from
several Buffalo breweries, including Community Beer Works. – I’m so glad you mentioned
them because in fact they are the last
stop on our tour. Community Beer Works
co-founder Ethan Cox is a self-proclaimed beer
geek, who in addition to running a successful
nanobrewery literally helped write the book on
Buffalo’s brewing history. – The opening of the Erie
Canal had a profound impact on the growth of Buffalo,
not just in brewing but really in all domains. What that did is it led
to the growth of the grain elevators. In fact the first grain
elevator was invented in Buffalo by a guy named Joseph Dart. Suddenly, you could take
these huge shipments of grain. You could store them
at this midway point between the Midwest,
where it was coming from, and the East, where
it needed to go. And what happened is
that people realized, “Well if the grain
is stopping anyway, why don’t I buy some of
it, malt it, and then sell that east of
west from here.” And that contributed
quite a bit to the economy of Buffalo and to the
notoriety of Buffalo. I mean we were really
very definitely the grain capital of the U.S.
for a long time. – [Maya] Still standing
on Buffalo’s waterfront are the majestic grain
siloes of yesteryear, commonly called Silo City. – There’s a ton of them
kind of in one area, and these are massive,
massive concrete structures. You can’t appreciate
just the enormity of this industrial architecture. It’s actually really gorgeous. A lot of those grain
elevators are not really in use any more, so for
a lot of Buffalonians they almost have become
something like an eyesore. What’s nice about the
Buffalo of today is that we’re starting to rethink
that, and we realize that these are actually
cultural assets of our industrial past, and we
need to find ways to reuse them and preserve them. And in fact there’s even
a brewery going into one, and they are going
to use an old grain silo and brew in it. I think that’s pretty cool. – [Maya] A proud member of
the Buffalo beer community, Ethan doesn’t
hesitate to support other up-and-coming brewers. He even sits on the board of
the New York State Brewer’s Association, looking
out for the interests of small-scale breweries
in western New York like his own,
Community Beer Works. – The idea behind Community,
and the name Community Beer Works comes from
at least three different levels of community that
we think are important. I mean the very first
level is the community within the company. The next level of
community is the community of people who are into
beer and beer enthusiasts. And then at the top
level it’s the community of Buffalo or the
neighborhood right around us. – I think when people
are given the choice, people are going to choose
something that is local and fresh, and they know
the people who make it. And they know who
stands behind it. And I think that’s the
allure of small breweries, especially ones
as small as ours. – As much as you might
like that new beer that you just got from that
national craft company, you can’t go meet anyone
who had anything to do with that beer. Whereas if you buy a
Community Beer Works beer at a restaurant or bar
nearby, you can come down to the brewery when we’re
open and there’s a very good chance that person
who actually made that beer is right there
behind the bar serving it to you as well. – [Maya] But the noble
goal of fostering a sense of community and
place through brewing is arguably only
as good as the beer that brings people together. Fortunately this brewery
delivers on both fronts. With popular ales that
help fulfill a mission to “Embeer Buffalo.” – we make a number
of different beers. Over the course of time
that we’ve been open I’m sure that we’ve
made well over 100 or 150 different beers, but we do have some
flagship beers. The most popular of
those is probably Frank, which our American pale ale. People do usually ask,
“Why is it named Frank?” It’s really great when
someone named Frank walks in because they
are always pretty excited that we named a beer after them. In our mind, Frank is
actually this quintessential Buffalo character. Everybody knows a Frank,
even if their Frank is named Stan or
Tony, you know the guy we’re talking about. Another beer that
we’ve been making since the beginning is our brown ale. It’s called the Whale. That name is just for fun. Rudy, who was our
brewer at the beginning, that was a home brew
recipe that he brought. And when he was making
it as a home brewer he was also calling
it the Whale. We didn’t see any reason
to stop calling it that. – [Maya] And while this
award-winning brewery started on a nanoscale
with a kickstarter budget, it has so quickly become
a beloved neighborhood crossroads that it seems
destined for greater influence. – New York state is the
home of some of the best breweries in America,
and we’re honored to be part of that community. The support that we get
from even the larger breweries in New York state. They want to see us grow like
we want to see them grow. – Our expansion plans at
this moment are really exciting for us because we
have found a good fit for us. The place that we are
moving to is on the west side of Buffalo still,
which we feel is kind of important for us personally,
and it’s also a big part of our brand, and
it ties into the brewing history of Buffalo because
the facility is going to be in a building that
was erected in 1880 as one of Buffalo’s malt houses. So I’m beyond excited
about what we’re doing. – [Maya] I think it’s safe
to say Community Beer Works is feeling the Buffalove,
and so are we after this final stop on our pedal tour. Speaking of buff, you
should see what this ride did for our calves. Well that was fun, but how
about we park this thing and go get ourselves a beer? – Definitely, and
some buffalo wings. – Okay, we’re in Buffalo,
so they’re just called chicken wings here. – Oh, gotcha. All right. Well don’t forget
to visit our website brewedinnewyorkshow.com
to learn more about the beer tourism in the
Buffalo/Niagara region. – Be sure to follow us
on social media for fun facts and updates. Until next time,
thanks for watching. (upbeat rock music)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *