Buffalo and Beer!

February 25, 2011 Updated Feb 25, 2011 at 2:20 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

February 25, 2011 Updated Feb 25, 2011 at 2:20 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Buffalo and beer, they go together like beef on weck.

The Queen City's long love affair with hops and barley is poured out on the pages of Buffalo Spree Magazine and their new "beer" issue.

Editor in Chief Elizabeth Licata tells Eyewitness News, "It's a blue collar town, and beer is a blue collar drink. Even though we've changed, and we don't have our big factories...that culture is still very much with us."

Historian Jay Pawlowski notes, "At one point in the late 19th century, we had 40 breweries here in Buffalo...second only to Brooklyn in New York State."

Buffalo's swelling population, it's location on grain shipping routes, and the water from Lake Erie, made this city one of the beer capitols of the country.

However it was prohibition and industrialization that helped spell the end of Buffalo's smaller breweries. It wasn't until the late 1980's and 1990's that the craft beer movement brought back brewing fever.

Breweries like "The Flying Bison" and the "Pearl Street Grill" are keeping the beer scene exciting.

And then you have guys like Alex Swoyrda.

Alex says, "I like making it, I like drinking it, and I like talking about it." Beer that is.

Hearkening back to Buffalo's beer roots, Alex brews small batches of beer in his garage for his family and friends to enjoy. Many of his concoctions have won awards in competitions like the local "Amber Waves Of Grain" event.

That event is one of the bigger amateur beer competitions in the country, with people from Canada, Pennsylvania, and Ohio coming to Western New York.

If you want to learn more about Buffalo's hoppy history, pick up a copy of Buffalo Spree magazine, or log on to BuffaloSpree.com. We have a link at "news links" here at wkbw.com