In 1817 construction on the Erie Canal began. It was sarcastically nicknamed “Clinton’s Big Ditch” because critics of then New York State governor Dewitt Clinton thought it would never be completed. As we all know, those critics were wrong. In 1825, eight years after Clinton himself broke ground with a shovel, the project was completed and the Erie Canal was open for business. Hard work, dedication, and a belief that this project would someday help boost our economy drove the workers who built it.
The owners of Big Ditch Brewing Company, much like Clinton and his dream, set out to accomplish a large undertaking of their own. Hence the name. Their goal was to consistently brew unique craft beer for Buffalo, and to build a brand that is synonymous with the spirit of the Erie Canal and the brewery’s core values; strength, pride, and ambition.
I sat down with president Matt Kahn to find out how it’s coming on their own “Big Ditch”, and of course the brewing company’s summer beers. When I arrived to the tap room at 55 East Huron, Matt was busy overseeing the newly installed equipment inside the brewery that will soon triple their production capabilities.
To date, their beer has been on the market for 21 months across Erie, Niagara, and the five surrounding counties. It’s in high demand, and it’s easy to see why. Earlier this year, they were awarded ‘Best Craft Brewery in New York State’ at the annual Tap NY Beer Festival, solidifying them as a major player in the industry. Even with all their success, Matt is very humble and modest. To him, and everyone at Big Ditch Brewing Company, the journey is just beginning. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy Big Ditch beer from a can, and an ever-growing portfolio of unique beer will continue delight customers.
In the meantime, head over to the tap room, like I did this summer, and grab one of these awesome brews:
Squeezer – 4.4% ABV
If you’re a fan of white wine, grab a pint of the squeezer. Although this beer is a sour, it’s not overwhelmingly sour. The grape notes balance the beer, giving it a very high level of complexity. It’s a beer that Matt says “Will really make you think.”
Berliner Weisse – 3% ABV
A classic style, brewed to be very tart and a bit sour. Traditionally it’s served with a simple syrup to add unique flavor. At Big Ditch, you can add house made raspberry, orange, or blackberry syrup. This will curb that sourness and make the beer a bit sweeter and fruity. Be creative and try and few different flavors!
FC – 3.5% ABV
FC was brewed in partnership with the Buffalo Football Club. It’s a kind of beer you’d like after a run, working in the yard, on a hot summer’s day under the sun, or playing football (American or European – it doesn’t matter). It’s very light, but full of flavor with hints of orange and pineapple. The goal here was to brew a beer with really low alcohol by volume (ABV), but with a ton of hops. If you like hoppy beers, you must give this one a try. It’s deceiving because you think you’re drinking a beer double the ABV.
Low Bridge – 4.8% ABV
This is a signature beer that you’ll find on tap all year round, whether at the brewery or in bars across WNY. If you’re new to craft beer, this is a really good place to start. It’s brewed to be like a pilsner, and ultra refreshing without too many ingredients that will boggle you’re taste buds. It has subtle hints of spice and lemon, but maintains a very low level of intensity and is extremely drinkable.