My first year attending the Buffalo Brewfest held at HSBC Arena in downtown Buffalo NY and I was underwhelmed.
We went to the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery prior to making our way over to the Buffal Brewfest and it is a good thing we did. Ordered up a Sabr’s Edge, an American Double IPA. Good start to the night, and I am glad I was able to have a sip of beer prior to going to the event.
The organizers who thought it was a good idea to have one door to check ID’s for pre-sale tickets, which they had close to 5,000 of was not a good one. The line when we arrived at 5:45PM Friday was around the back of HSBC Arena, and took roughly 40 minutes to get through.
Once we entered, the organizers thought it was another good idea to put breweries and food vendors right where people would converge when entering and exiting as well as moving to and from the first floor concourse. Lines were extremely long, it was difficult to move between vendors and some craft breweries ran out of beer quite early, around 8:15PM when the event went on till close to 10:00PM. With the level of pre-sales, and the fact that your purchase came with 20 free drink tickets, each beer with few exceptions was one ticket, how does a brewery not come prepared?
The line for Stone Brewing Co. was too long to wait through, although the man rolling his own cigars directly in front of the tent where the line began had to make a killing.
Breweries were generous with their pours, which was good as it took 10 minutes at minimum to traverse through the crowds and receive a 3.5 ounce glass of beer.
In the end, we decided to head out early and passed our extra tickets to some drunk passerby’s in before departing.
In the future, I would advise the organizers of the Buffalo Brewfest to make better use of the 100 level of the arena, perhaps having breweries scattered through out the concourse to alleviate the bottle necking that occurred due to the vendors being so close to each other. Even though they utilized the outside and main atrium, the shear number of breweries made the space cramped and lines long. Hopefully next year they will utilize the massive amount of space that the HSBC Arena allots, however they may have lost a few customers with a poorly run operation this time around.
Unfortunate too, as there are a ton of beer lovers in Buffalo, and you didn’t have to go further than the Buffalo Brewfest to see that.