Happy Beer Week 2016, Peoples!

Wow. I am so damn proud of this city, sometimes I truly can’t fathom it. And in writing this, I have quickly come to the realization that this is one of those moments! We are in our fifth year of Rochester Real Beer Week! Can you believe it? We have half of a decade under our belt (well, darn close).

Having grown up in this city, I get exasperated by how often it gets taken for granted. Rochester has always been culturally robust in its offerings and that reality has become more evident with each passing year. And let’s be unabashedly honest here: When it comes to craft beer, amongst many other things, Rochester has a little something to brag about. Just last year, Rochester was rated #8 in the Top 10 beer cities in America, which was based upon craft beer sales in grocery stores alone. It’s astonishing that we ranked that prominently before local brewery growth was even taken into account.

Rochester has definitely become a beer city. Again. There were over 50 breweries in Rochester in the 19th century but less than 1 survived Prohibition. Genesee Brewing Co. is the only one still in business. This granddad of breweries now has some company.

Just to give you just a small snapshot: Three Heads Brewing is opening a much-anticipated, state of the art brewing facility this spring, not only upping the ante when it comes to expanding their already beloved and impressive beer offerings, but also (and possibly even more important to their core values) in reinvesting in their hometown, which they have always believed in, through great beer, music and community. Stoneyard Brewing Company, whose roots lie within their well-known bar and grill located Brockport, as well as in an engrained passion to create and cultivate beer culture, started brewing some beers of their own in the only space they had available: an old elevator shaft. The beers were so well-received that they are now building a full-fledge brewing facility just up the street. Also, local restaurateur Jenna Miles, of Revelry and Branca, and a group of local business partners are in the midst of opening a microbrewery on the North Shore of Canandaigua Lake, expected to open in late 2016 or early 2017. These are just a smattering of examples of what is on the forefront, when it comes to beermaking in Rochester, NY.

Living amongst all of the wonderful beer creation that is going on in this Rochester, it’s also important to note the community driven passion that backs it; a loyal foundation of local establishments, new and old, who uphold and sustain one another. I have never seen a city that is quite as special as this one when it comes to all of the businesses coming together to embrace and support each other, joining forces through events, collaborative beers, food festivals, and more! This city truly represents the gravity and power of symbiosis.

As always, I look forward to the excitement that Rochester Real Beer Week promises every year; a thoughtful miscellany of creative events, samplings, takeovers, beer dinners and more from local venues, breweries and cideries. This is a week that perfectly epitomizes what I love about this city: community, collaboration and camaraderie.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

Cheers, Leslie Zinck Ward