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Buffalo, Meet Bamberg (and its beer!)

With the much-anticipated Beerology event taking place on April 9, some local beer enthusiasts simply weren’t satisfied with only one day of appreciation for the drink that they love.  Given Buffalo’s rich brewing history, it only seemed fit that beer be given a few extra days of recognition.
Starting on Tuesday, April 5, the makers of the documentary film “Bamberg: A City Built On Beer,” will be presenting a series of events leading up to the Beerology event on April 9.  With the help of some local establishments and their local marketing representative, these Bamberg natives will be sharing their German city’s beer culture with the city of Buffalo via film.  They will also be sharing some of their city’s finest beer as well.
The events being held are as follows:

  • April 5: Come and join the crew for a special Bavarian style pizza (Zwiebelkuchen) paired with a very nice Franconian style Kellerbier on tap at the Pizza Plant. Call (716) 626-5566 for more info.

    •    April 6: Dinner at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery with a presentation on historical Buffalo beer styles, featuring Bavarian Helles on tap.  Dinner at 6 p.m. Presentation at 7 p.m.  Call (716) 856-2337 for more info.
    •    April 7: Film screening with a buffet dinner and Bamberg beers at Cole’s at 7 p.m.  $25 ticket includes dinner, three beer pours, and the film screening.  Featuring beers from Schlenkerla, Mahr’s, and Spezial.  Call (716) 886-1449 for more info.
    •    April 8: Dinner featuring the food and beer of Bamberg at the Blue Monk.  Call (716) 882-6665 for more info.
    •    April 9 (afternoon): Lunch featuring the food and beer of Bamberg at the Blue Monk.  Call (716) 882-6665 for more info.
    •    April 9 (evening): Film crew will be hosting their own table at the Buffalo Museum of Science annual BEEROLOGY event, featuring Bamberg beer on tap and copies of the documentary for sale.  Visit the Beerology website for more info.
This documentary began with a pair of friends in Bamberg–director Jörg Hoffmann and website specialist Thomas Ernst–who were having a beer and talking about life.  Hoffman wanted to create something of his own that could be preserved and watched for years to come.  So they decided to make a film about their city and its extraordinary beer.
The team, which grew to seven people, spent 2 and a half years working on the film in their free time from their regular jobs. “At the beginning we started talking with the brewers, beer specialists, Historians et cetera about what we want to do–that we don’t want to make a promotion film, but that we want to show how the real beer-life is in Bamberg,” said Lisa Luginger, writer and editor for the film. “We all LOVE the beer culture in Bamberg and this alone pushed us giving our best. After two years of shooting, speaking, calling, investigating, in the end-phase, we woke up with the Bierfilm and we fell asleep with thinking of the Bierfilm.”
The final product was a 90-minute film that covers every aspect of Bamberg’s beer culture, from the history, to the local brewers, the festivals, and the beer itself. After several screenings in Bavarian cinemas and at film festivals, the film became well recognized in Bamberg.  Meanwhile, it caught the attention of Buffalo native Willard Brooks, a beer enthusiast and avid supporter of rekindling Buffalo’s beer culture.  Brooks reached out to the filmmakers and they brought him on board as their North American marketing representative.  Now, he is bringing the culture of Bamberg to us, hoping to spark a bond between our cities.
“The film gave me an insight.  There’s so many people involved, there’s a whole beer culture–a city built on beer,” said Brooks.  “Bamberg beer culture revolves around the craftsmanship.  There’s a tradition of learning, a scientific aspect, technology and equipment.”  Brooks noted that the brewers in Bamberg are so well trained that they attain degrees in their craft.  These individuals are as well respected in their city as are the priests.  This respect for beer and those who make it pervades throughout the entire Bamberg community–it is simply a way of life.
“In Bamberg, there’s public support for the beer culture,” Brooks said.  “People drink beer at a local pub and beer is a social outlet, a part of daily life and family.  The people who drink it have a relationship with those who make it.”
Brooks sees this film as a way to not only promote the beer culture of Bamberg, but also that of Buffalo.  “What is beer culture? It’s what you do with beer–in the past, present and future,” said Brooks.  “Buffalo has a rich brewing history and a pedigree that legitimates our claim to that beer culture.”  Brooks believes that Buffalo has the potential to be a city with thriving beer culture like that of Bamberg. “People in Buffalo want that connection to their history and their past, but it’s not just that.  We don’t just want empty beer bottles in a museum.”
According to Brooks, Buffalo has a great deal of brewing history behind it, but it still has all the key ingredients for the re-growth of the industry.  “New York State has a serious chance to start growing hops commercially,” said Brooks.  “The craft brewing industry is on fire.  It has that much fervor behind it.” Phil Internicola, head brewer at Pearl Street Brewery, also noted that our Great Lakes System has the perfect mineral profile for making beer.
Brooks hopes that seeing this film will lead to an expansion of Buffalo’s beer culture.  By sharing the culture of Bamberg with Buffalo’s brewers and beer enthusiasts, he believes that we could create a sister city relationship, which would lead to an ongoing cultural exchange between our cities. “The main ingredient in beer for me is friendship,” Brooks said. It is his belief that by sharing Bamberg’s beer culture with the city of Buffalo and establishing ties based on common brewing history, a mutually beneficial friendship could be created that would lead to greater things.
For more information on the Bamberg documentary, visit the official website.

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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