Big Ditch Brewing Company

Beautiful River Saison

Buffalo, NY

(pdf version)

    Buffalo, NY, the home of Big Ditch Brewing Company, is filled with fascinating bits of history, including one of America’s biggest faux pas.  According to legend, the name “Buffalo” came from the nearby Buffalo Creek, which got its name from the Erie Indians who occupied the region.  The Erie name for the creek sounded similar to and was initially translated by French fur-trappers to Beau Fleuve, but when the English moved into the region they mistakenly took the name to be Buffalo, assuming that it was related to the American bison.  It is very unlikely that any buffalo were in the area at the time or, quite possibly, ever.  Beau Fleuve actually means “Beautiful River”.
    Many other names for locations in America have an unusual origin as well.  For example, the suffix “polis” translates from Greek to “city”.  Therefore, Indianapolis is an Indiana city whose name translates to “Indiana City”.  Indianapolis is also the capital Indiana, another name that seems to be lacking in creativity.  “Indiana” is simply the word “Indian” with an “a” at the end and translates to “Land of the Indian”.
    Another “polis” city is Minneapolis.  “Mni” was the Sioux word for “water” and, therefore, Minneapolis means “water city”.  Annapolis, MD was named after 17th century English noblewoman Anne Arundell, Baroness of Baltimore; Gallipolis, OH was settled by the French and means “French City”; Teutopolis, IL was carefully planned and settled by Germans and translates to “City of the Teutons” (an ancient Germanic Tribe); Copperopolis, CA, settled in the heart of Gold Country, is full of copper; and Thermopolis, WY has many naturally geothermal-heated hot springs and translates to “Hot City”.
    Glendale, CA is the combination of two different words.  “Glen”, which comes from the Scottish term meaning “valley”, and “dale”, which comes from the English term meaning “valley”.  Glendale literally translates to “valley-valley”.
    Chicago’s etymological origin is officially unknown but, like many other places in America, has Native American roots.  It seems that “Chicago” came from “chicagoua”, a French translation of a Native American word that has various translations all of which point to one consistent theme: Chicago used to stink!  Translations of “chicagoua” include “skunk”, “place of the skunk” and “place of the bad smell”.  
    Los Angeles was originally known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (“The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola”).  “The Queen of the Angels” was a reference to the Virgin Mary.  Many other Spanish-founded cities originally carried long names as well such as Santa Fe, NM, previously known as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (“The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”) and both San Francisco city and county which were originally called Mission San Francisco de Asís a la Laguna de los Dolores (“Saint Francis of Assisi at the Lagoon of Sorrows”).
    Anchorage, AK was settled in the late 1700s by the Russians but got its current name in 1920 when it was named after a clothing and hardware store that already resided in the city.  The citizens of Alaska once tried to change it to “Alaska City” but the idea was rejected by the U.S. Government.
    Portland, OR was almost named Boston as a tribute to Boston, MA.  It was instead named in honor of Portland, ME after “Portland” won two out of three times in a coin toss.
    Honolulu roughly translates “protected bay” and was named by Ancient Hawaiians over 2,000 years ago.
    Truth or Consequences, NM changed their name in 1950 to win a game show.  The popular NBC radio quiz show Truth or Consequences announced that they would broadcast a live show from any town that officially changed its name to Truth or Consequences, and the little town formerly known as Hot Springs obliged.
    Some residents of Des Moines, IA claim that their city was named after a rather nefarious practical joke.  Legends state that French settlers in the region wanted to name the river (and then the town) in honor of the nearby Indians.  They asked the natives, who were quite disgruntled at the encroachment of the white settlers, to tell them the name of the nearby tribe and they were told the tribe was called “the Moines”.  The French settlers then supposedly named the river and their city in honor of “the Moines”.  In the language of the natives, however, “moines” actually translated to something similar to “shitheads”.    
    But perhaps the most unusual name for any location in the U.S. is Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.  Originally known as Lake Chaubunagungamaug, which translates to something like “fishing waters at the boundary”, it gained its full name after it started to be used by European settlers.  It now roughly translates to “English knifemen and Nipmuc Indians at the neutral fishing place.”  Located in Webster, MA, most locals just refer to it as Webster Lake.


From the Brewer:  A popular origin of the city of Buffalo’s name was a mispronunciation of a Frenchman’s exclamation upon first sight of the Buffalo River.  Beautiful River (or “Beau Fleuve”) is a refreshing Belgian-style farmhouse ale featuring floral, pear, and pepper notes, which was brewed to commemorate the origins of our city.  ABV 5.6%, IBU 23   
Matt Kahn - President, Corey Catalano - Vice President & Head Brewer, Paul Iskalo - Principal Investor, Wes Froebel - Managing Member