Our free and inclusive Labor Day Ride this coming Monday, September 2nd, brings us back to Big Ditch Brewing Company (55 East Huron Street, downtown, 6:30pm sharp start), where back in 2015 soon after opening, we earned the nickname of “Steam Roll” for bringing so much afterparty business that we essentially trained their staff for their busiest nights.

The name “Big Ditch” is a nod to arguably the greatest feat of labor in Buffalo’s history, the Erie Canal, which was sarcastically called “Clinton’s Big Ditch” by naysayers around the start of its eight-year construction that changed the course of history here and far beyond; although, those who toiled in the trenches had none of the workplace protections since earned by organized labor in the likes of the local steel industry, about which we’ll learn along the ride with help from Buffalo Bike Tours in advance of their bike tour of The Great Steel Strike of 1919.

Learn more about Big Ditch below from founding president Matt Kahn.

What inspired you to start a brewery?

Both myself and my partner, Corey Catalano (our head brewer), wanted to start a business with a positive and engaging culture. We also had the ambition to try to build something great for Buffalo. The craft beer industry was growing like crazy but hadn’t quite picked up in Buffalo when we first came up with the idea in 2011. Corey and I were both scientists, and making beer is mostly about biology and chemistry. It all fit together pretty well!

How does Big Ditch serve our community?

Big Ditch participates in and donates to a number of charity-related events around the area, but the most notable is our Big Difference volunteer program, in which our employees work directly with local charities to help them with various activities or events. It’s great both for our employees as well as the charities themselves.

What’s your take on Try-It Distributing’s Buffalocal campaign to promote Big Ditch and other local breweries?

The Buffalocal program is trying to market all of Try-it’s local brands together and provide a place for consumers to quickly locate and purchase local beer. Local craft beer is growing at a faster rate than every other segment of the beer market, so they’re smart to try to capitalize on it. From Big Ditch’s perspective, we obviously like the idea that they’re spending some marketing dollars on us, as well as other Buffalo brands. Over time, I think it will help to drive consumer choice towards local products. Definitely a good thing.

What’s new with Big Ditch since Slow Roll’s previous visit last year?

Mostly, we’re just just trying to get better at everything we do. Beer-wise, we continue to make a lot of Hayburner, and we release a new beer on average every two weeks, as we’ve done since we opened. For our tap room, we’re spending a little more time programming events and activities for our guests, and we’ve honed in some of our food specials. Mostly just trying to have fun and enjoy the ride – no pun intended!