Annual Beer and Wine Festival This Weekend

By Alicia Dziak

Ellicottville’s year-round fun continues this month with the annual Beer and Wine Festival, Nov. 8 at Holiday Valley, hosted by Holiday Valley, Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewery.

Brew Masters Dinner

The weekend kicks off with the Friday night Brew Masters Dinner, with a “Cirque de Bière” theme, at Holiday Valley Lodge. The circus-themed evening will feature unusual surprises, a unique photo booth, and a traditional tapping of the keg by the “god of beer” just as guests enter the dining room.

The keg tapping will be followed by an array of food stations, boasting nationally recognized craft beers paired with classic, seasonally focused cuisine, with beer incorporated as an ingredient in almost every dish. Brewers will also be on hand to discuss each beer and the pairing decisions.

“Our resort chef, Dave Seitz, has put together everything from wild game sausages to roast pork belly and steamship of venison with Yorkshire pudding,” said Franco Brady, general manager of Centerplate at Holiday Valley, the exclusive provider of all food and beverage at the resort. “His focus was to marry the food to the beer and create that unique fall flavor that embraces comfort food.”

Chef Dave will direct and orchestrate the team to produce the final menu.

The result will be seven food stations serving up delectable combinations of food and beer. For example, one station will tentatively feature German beers, potato pancakes/pierogies with apples, bratwurst and cabbage.

“We have concentrated on preparing and serving locally sourced products, and we will incorporate the beer served at the station into the food preparation, whether accentuating the flavors of the item or using the beer in the cooking process,” explained Brady.

The Brew Masters Dinner typically draws a crowd of beer and fine food connoisseurs.

“The brewers bring some of the their most special beers, and dinner guests can actually talk with the brewers one on one to discuss the finer points of these special beers,” said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director for Holiday Valley. “Our chefs are creative in the way they incorporate beer in to each dish, even dessert! And this year will be a change from the past with some very interesting entertainment and special events!”

The night begins with hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m. and food stations will open at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Brew Masters Dinner are $65, with a very limited supply still available.

Beer and Wine Festival

The fun continues on Saturday, when Holiday Valley Lodge transforms into the headquarters for the annual Beer and Wine Festival, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Guests will be able to sample over 100 handcrafted beers, hard ciders and wines from dozens of local craft breweries and wineries, and enjoy live music by Big Leg Emma and Smackdab.

Tickets for Saturday’s Beer and Wine Festival are $60, with a limited supply left. Each ticket includes a commemorative tasting glass, unlimited 3 oz. samples of wine, beer and hard cider, and a $5 food voucher. Additional food will be available for purchase, with weekend specials.

“Our culinary team at John Harvard’s will have a specialty beer soup, IPA battered fish & chips and in the Marketplace Café, there will be a specialty German mustard to go along with our sausages steamed in beer,” said Brady.

While there are other beer and wine events around, there’s none quite like this one.

“You can’t beat the vibe of Holiday Valley and Ellicottville —  it’s where everyone comes to have fun!” said Eshbaugh. “With partners like Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing, we are able to attract the most interesting and exciting brewers. And this is our 11th year, so we’ve been around the block a few times and know what people like.”

These two fun-filled events almost always sell out — plan early (tickets usually go on sale in August) so you don’t miss out in 2015.

“We do so much behind the scenes with so many departments and staff, that it’s just amazing to see the final product come together and watch the smiles leave at the end of the event,” Brady said, citing the Beer and Wine Festival one of the best events Ellicottville has to offer. I am always impressed at how well the Beer and Wine Festival Committee prepares and executes this event.”

For up-to-date ticket information on both events, visit www.holidayvalley.com.