By Bob Clark . Special to the Times
Two popular tastes of Cattaraugus County were combined and recently released — and immediately proved popular online.
Debuting last week was the Blueberry Maple Pancake beer, produced by Ellicottville Brewing Co., using maple syrup produced by Sprague’s Maple Farm of Portville.
EBC owner Peter Kreinheder and Sprague’s owner Randy Sprague said they are astounded by the response.
“It’s been lighting up social media,” Sprague said, noting hundreds of comments and about 1,000 shares.
“It was an Instagram photo shared to Facebook,” Kreinheder said. “In just 30 hours, we’ve had over 168,000 views on Facebook — something resonated with someone. It’s just fun to see the reaction — we never expected it to be like this.”
The pancakes depicted in the photo weren’t just for show.
“We made pancakes with the beer,” he said. “They were great.”
Dina’s, a restaurant on Washington Street in Ellicottville, made pancakes for customers last weekend with the beer, Kreinheder added.
On its own, “the beer tastes just like a blueberry pancake,” he said. Made like a pastry beer — with different bases and malts to bring a pancake flavor to the brew. In addition, blueberry is added, he said, making a similar taste to the well-known blueberry wheat beer produced by the company.
“Then, of course, we added in the maple syrup,” Kreinheder said.
“It’s really good — almost way too good,” Sprague said. “It might make you rethink beer.”
The demand — with calls coming from across the country seeking the brew before it was even released — means more will be made.
“We only produced about 100 barrels of the beer,” Kreinheder said. “People were coming in here buying it by the case as it was coming off the assembly line.
“This is just bizarre,” he added.
The next batch will be made with a twist — water pulled from incoming tree sap from Sprague’s reverse osmosis system will be used in the brewing process, as well as maple syrup.
The business owners had spoken previously about a collaboration, but talks became serious late last year.
“We did a food show over in Ellicottville last fall,” Sprague said. “The owner of EBC came over… we got to talking about flavors and things. Shortly thereafter, he gave us a call.
“One thing led to another, and it’s in the cans and kegs,” he said.
While Sprague’s has collaborated with brewers before, this is a much larger scale run, Sprague said.
It’s not the first collaboration for EBC, however. Last fall, Kreinheder said his firm worked with Pumpkinville to create the company’s first pumpkin-flavor beer that was an instant hit. Next month, EBC will release a chocolate orange beer in collaboration with Platter’s Chocolates of Buffalo.
Sprague said he was pleased to be part of the effort with Kreinheder.
“He’s a wonderful person to work with,” Sprague said. “It was really nice to do this with them.”
Sprague’s restaurant will also serve the beer starting this week, he said.
“It’s starting its way out to distribution,” Sprague said.
Ellicottville Brewing Co. opened in 1995 and operates a craft beer brewery and restaurant in Ellicottville, as well as brewing and restaurant facilities at Bemus Point and brewing operations in Little Valley.
Since the 1970s, Sprague’s has expanded to collect from 20,000 taps on 1,000 acres in and around Portville, shipping syrup internationally and serving its products in the Portville restaurant.