Recently we caught up with the Buffalo Beer Goddesses, a group of fun-loving brewsters in town that get together monthly for casual socials, produce fundraisers for the Cicerone Scholarship, and hold annual events like their uber-popular Beer Prom. The group was formed in 2013 with the mission, “to increase the presence of women in the beer industry by providing educational and networking opportunities to WNY women in order to elevate their knowledge of craft beer.” They celebrated their 5-year anniversary at Mr. Goodbar, featuring The Alison Pipitone Band, during this year’s Buffalo Beer Week, organized by the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association.
How many members currently comprise the group? How does this differ (if at all) from the beginning days of the group?
In the beginning, the group was simply a Facebook group in which local women would snap of photo of a beer they were drinking, share where they were, what the thought about it, etc. – and it was a way to discuss the growing beer scene with other like-minded women. Finally, the group decided that we should meet in person, and so started our monthly socials! Our socials take place at bars, breweries, members’ homes. They often include pairings, or brewing. The Facebook group was started by our friend Julia Burke. BBG currently has over 40 paid board members who contribute to the planning and execution of our events and mission.
Do you have any dates/locations for the next few monthly meetups finalized?
Every third Thursday of the month the BBGs hold our monthly socials. All socials are open to the public and are co-ed. Upcoming socials can be found on our Facebook page. They are decided at the beginning of each month during our private board meetings. In May, we will be holding our 2nd Annual Beer Prom, the first event of its type in WNY.
What is the Cicerone Scholarship, and what are your efforts surrounding it?
The Certified Cicerone certification has become the benchmark of beer knowledge and expertise. Certified Cicerones carry with them a vast knowledge of tasting, styles, pairing and brewing alike. To further our support of women involved in the beer world, we have created a scholarship program to help assist in the financial aspect of this certification. The Certified Cicerone exam allows individuals to quickly demonstrate that they possess a professional body of knowledge and essential tasting skills related to beer. Those who pass earn the right to use the title “Certified Cicerone®” and display the logo on their card and correspondence. They also get listed in our certification directory where anyone can verify their status. Certified Cicerones enjoy enhanced respect and prestige that can help improve their business success and career prospects. All WNY women who are interested in the Certified Cicerone certification to help them advance in their industry careers can apply for this scholarship. Our board members will assist in a three-step application process in selecting one candidate to receive our inaugural scholarship. All of our fundraising throughout the year goes towards this fund.
If you were talking to someone brand-new to craft beer, what is some advice you would give them for beginning their exploration? What are some good starter beers that you would suggest? Intermediate? Expert?
I would recommend that they go to a local brewery or a craft beer bar some day in the afternoon, when it will be a little quiet and they can have a chance to chat with the bartender about the beers on tap and try a flight or some samples of a wide variety of beer, so they can start to get an idea about what they like or don’t like. Use the app Untappd or choose your own way to track what beers you’ve had and liked or didn’t like so you can refer back to it when you’re looking to try something new. Everyone’s “starter beers” will be different based on their palates, so I definitely recommend talking to the staff at a tap room or beer bar, who should be knowledgeable enough to help you find something based on what you already like to drink.
How do you compare the Buffalo beer scene in 2017 to other scenes in the country? How do we measure up?
The Buffalo beer scene has been growing by leaps and bounds and follows many of the same trends as the national scene, like the popularity of sour beers and super-hazy IPAs. Something special that we have here is that we’re in a smaller city, both geographically and in the size of our community. You can visit several breweries in a day without much travel time, no matter which part of town or the suburbs you find yourself in. Also, Buffalo is a close-knit community, so our brewers tend to get along and be very friendly, leading to a lot of unique collaborations. The staff at a brewery will often recommend other places for you to visit when you leave their establishment. They’re all happy to support each other, rather than compete to come out on top.
Can you sketch out a “Day of Beer” in Buffalo for an out-of-town guest? Where would you send them and what suggestions would you have for them upon their arrival?
There are great craft beer destinations in the suburbs north and south of Buffalo, but to make the most of your time I’d probably stay in the city proper. You can start your day with brunch at Hydraulic Hearth. Their pop-up Saturday fall/winter brunch is called Burritos and Brooze, serving breakfast burritos and awesome waffles from the guys that brought us the Lomo Lomo food truck, and they pour six taps of Community Beer Works beer. After brunch, walk a block down to Flying Bison Brewing Company to sample a flight from Buffalo’s first craft brewery. Next, call a Lyft to Big Ditch Brewing Company for a brewery tour to learn a little more about the history of the area and the Buffalo brewing community, as well as the brewing process. After your samples at Big Ditch, take some time to dry out by walking around the neighborhood to check out the architecture. For dinner, Thin Man Brewery has delicious food and an amazing beer selection. Try to get a seat by the windows to for a view of the Elmwood strip! And when visiting Buffalo from out of town, you have to try the wings, of course. A great late night stop for a variety of craft beers and excellent wings is Mr. Goodbar, just up Elmwood Avenue.
Contributors: Parrish Gibbons Herzog (BBG Public Relations), Sara Jean Rosenberry (Secretary).
BBG also has a formalized board consisting of Barbara Veres (Co-Chair), Rebecca Decker (Co-Chair) and Tracey Maciejewski (Treasurer)