On Friday, February 27th, the annual Art of Beer will be held at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC) at 1201 Pine Avenue.
The event will run from 6-9 and features craft beer tasting along with pairings of foods meant to compliment the types of beer offered.
Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
The "Art of Beer" was founded by Mayor Paul A. Dyster in 2007 and has been hosted by his wife, Rebecca.
The popular event dovetails nicely with the Mayor and his wife's private business - Niagara Tradition, Inc., a Tonawanda based beer brewing supply business.
Almost every year since 2008, Mayor Dyster has secured $30,000 in public money, primarily bed tax money, for the NACC. Some of it is used to put on the Art of Beer, the largest annual fund-raiser for the NACC, a not for profit corporation.
The event has been popular in recent years, filling both floors at the NACC, while featuring the beer of micro beer breweries, local food vendors, live music, and brew making demonstrations throughout the evening, including a demonstrations by Niagara Tradition Home Brew.
According to 2013 published reports based on information supplied by the NACC, over a three year period, NACC spent $11,748 to host the event, took in $49,944, making for a net gain of $37,926 for the arts center.
In 2013, former Niagara Falls City Council member Sam Fruscione led the council majority to stop the annual $30,000 subsidy to NACC for one year. The outcry from NACC and other Dyster supporters was significant. Angry NACC supporters attended city hall council meetings and during the public comment period criticized Fruscione.
"NACC is done getting money from the taxpayers," Fruscione said defiantly at the time. "Mayor Dyster and his Art of Beer is the biggest recipient of the (public) money (given to NACC)."
The Niagara Gazette reported in a Feb 3, 2103 story entitled "Fruscione questions Dyster's involvement in 'boozy party'" that Fruscione said the mayor pushing to get funding for the Art of Beer while his business is a craft beer brewing supply company that promotes itself at the event was "very unethical."
Rebecca Dyster told the Gazette that her business lost money participating in Art of Beer and "she participates in it to support an institution that both she and her husband believe does a lot of good for the city."
Dyster explained that none of the public money goes to purchasing beer.
But Dyster explained that the event is not without value. Participating microbreweries donate beer in exchange for publicity they get from being at the event. He told the Gazette, "It's something that craft breweries do in order to try to get exposure for their products."
Fruscione lost his reelection bid in 2013 and the new council majority restored funding to the NACC.
The NACC, founded in 2001, is housed in the former site of the Niagara Falls High School. Over 70 artists and cultural organizations, a ballet school, three theaters, a sound stage, and recording studios rent space there.
This year,"(o)ver twenty beer and food vendors will line the halls of the landmark building, as the former Niagara Falls High School is transformed for a night into a beer lover's paradise," the promotional information on the event states. "The NACC Art of Beer will feature a dozen different culinary selections and over 50 varieties of beer, including some of WNY's newest microbrews….
"Meet local brew masters and learn how to make your own beer at home!"
Vendors for this year's Art of Beer include, besides the mayor's business, the Big Ditch Brewing Company, Buffalo Wild Wings, CB Craft Brewers, Chateau Buffalo, Community Beer Works, Certo Brothers
Distributing , Consumers Beverages, Flying Bison Brewery, Old First Ward Brewing, Pan American Grill & Brewery, Pearl Street Grill & Brewery. WoodCock Brothers, Resurgence Brewing, Try-It Distributing, Brickyard Pub & BBQ , Chipotle Mexican Grill, Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, NACC Artisan Café, Red Coach Inn, Hard Rock Café, Great Lakes Brewing News, and Simon Pure Collectors.
Tickets can be purchased at the NACC, or at the mayor's business, Niagara Tradition Home Brewing Supplies or online at www.thenacc.org.