The Beer Scene in Buffalo, NY

We spent last weekend in Buffalo, NY visiting K’s brother and cousin.  I did what I usually do nowadays when tripping to a new city: I researched disc golf courses, beer, restaurants, attractions and a new one, geocaching.  We didn’t get to do a number of things, which is fine since we were there for people and not sightseeing, but the beer scene ended up taking a fortuitous turn or three.  Head on down for some pics (sorry for the crappy phonecam) and recommendations.

When we got in Friday night we went straight to Duff’s.  Apparently Anchor Bar is the originator of the eponymous Buffalo Wing but the consensus is that Duff’s has mastered them.

Alcohol: the cause of -and solution to- all of life's problems.
Duff's signage (original Duff's in the northeast, of course)

We only had the time to try one, so next time we’ll hit up the other.  It was nice to find out that besides the generic macros Duff’s had its very own beer.  We had an suspicion that it was made on contract so K’s brother asked for more info and sure enough it was brewed by Honeoye Falls’ very own Custom Brewcrafters.  That operation is one I’m very interested in for a variety of reasons and it will be visited soon by yours truly.  Back on subject though we were happy to have a real beer to wash down those awesome wings.  Killer sauce, btw and Suicide Sauce is pretty damn hot.

The next day was the Taste of Buffalo festival.  There was a lot of food to be found but there was a severe lack of beer options.  I found out that the reason Bud and Miller were nowhere to be seen is that Labatt’s Blue is #1 in Buffalo.  Apparently it’s the only market in the U.S. where the usual #1 and #2 sit below Labatt’s, which is, unsurprisingly considering the proximity of the border, a Canadian company.

Unused Taps in a case at Cole's

After the dearth of drink at the festival it was pretty great to walk into Cole’s, a Buffalo institution.  K’s cousin’s boyfriend Steve just happens to work there.  Steve is a bit of a local institution himself, as he was dropping knowledge left and right about the history and architecture of Buffalo.  He’s also a kindred spirit who has a passion for good beer and this came in handy when perusing the incredible draft list at Cole’s.  Here’s what was on tap:
Mikkeller Single Hop East Kent Golding IPA
Mikkeller Drinkin in the Sun 2010
Alvinne Extra Restyled
Stone 14th Anniversary Empirial IPA
Affligem Tripel
Brooklyn Brown
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Goose Island Sofie
St. Feuillien Saison
Brooklyn Dark Matter
Customer Brewcrafters “Max”
Dogfish Head Sahti
Flying Bison Rusty Chain
Magic Hat #9
Ommegang Abbey Ale
Kapuziner Weissbier
Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan
Ommegang Zuur
Ellicottville Mow Masters
Victory Braumeister Pils (Saaz)
Goose Island Matilda
Southern Tier Oak-Aged UnEarthly
Brooklyn Monster
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Sout
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Abita Purple Haze
Wolavers Ben Gleason’s White
Fullers London Pride
Smuttynose Robust Porter
Lindemans Framboise Lambic
Ithaca Flower Power IPA
Duvel Green
Guinness Stout
and rounding it out nicely, Labatt Blue Light (only BA review lower than a B, it gets a D)

and this is all DRAFT!  The great thing is that Steve was there behind the bar to point out some things to try.  I ended up getting two flights of four tastes each at 6$ per flight.  This turns out to be a pretty great deal and it kept me sober as I was DD that night.  I love getting the Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve series outside of the brewery and Mikkeller on draft is a lot of fun.  The bottle list just kept the hits coming on a multi-page list broken down by style.  Cole’s is definitely not a place to be missed when you hit Buffalo.

Somehow during the next 24 hours I magically acquired a large-format 3 Floyds Behemoth Barleywine. This beer is extraordinarily difficult to find in New York state since 3 Floyds does not distribute here. Mysterious!

The next day’s beer odyssey started off at Village Beer Merchant.  It’s a tiny little shop and it is three blocks from K’s cousin’s apartment.  For its small size it sure packs a lot of wallop.  The have some rarities, including Dieu de Ciel, behind the counter.

I didn't get the Brewdogs cause, heh, I already have them.  :D
Rare bottles at Village Beer Merchant in Buffalo

There is also a growler filling station.

Someday my basement will look just like this.
Growler Station at Village Beer Merchant in Buffalo

The aisles contain a nice cross-section of great american, belgian, italian and other micros.

All this, and a Newcastle sign?  wtf.
Some of the bottles at Village Beer Merchant in Buffalo, NY

For brunch we hit up Shango’s, right across from the north campus of the University of Buffalo.  The cuisine is delectable Louisiana-style stuff and the beer list is small but choice.  I had the Brooklyn Blast.

Pop goes the Weasel 'cause the Weasel goes POP!
Shango in Buffalo, NY

Shango’s recently hosted a Brooklyn Brewery event with Garret Oliver, The Man Himself.

Over the course of the weekend we also hit up:
City Hall during the festival for a sweet tour (ask about the 12th and a half floor)

You can just see the 12th and half floor...Malkovich!
Beautiful Art Deco

Spar’s European Sausages (amazing, do it)
Como Park Disc Golf Course (very nice but look out for the water)

Other places we’ll be checking out next time include (but are not limited to):

Flying Bison Brewpub
Premier Gourmet bottle shop

Anchor Bar

All in all I have to say that Buffalo is pretty great when it comes to beer.  I like that the big two get pushed to the side even if it’s another macro that’s doing it.  Local beers get solid representation and it’s pretty easy to find great stuff in the specialty shops.  We’re looking forward to going back again soon.


Mostly in and around western and upstate NY. Forays into New England and down the eastern seaboard.