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Honey, I'm Home!

A lot of what I do depends on travel. I got some excellent advice from John Hansell, publisher of Malt Advocate, who got it in turn from Michael Jackson. You can't write about a place if you haven't been there. So...I travel. I won't deny it's fun, and it often makes a good story, though I'm usually glad to get home to Cathy and the kids. 

Here are the archives, followed by my Latest Big Trip.


Way Out On The Edge of New York: Barker, Beer, and Bourbon
The Electric Pale Ale-Powered Mini-Van Urine Test:
What I Do When I'm Not Working
McMenamin's Edgefield, the Amusement Park For Adults:
Taking My Beer For a Walk
Beer's Gonna Make Me a Big Star: Media Exposure, Pittsburgh, and Stephanie
A Memory of Bert Grant: the 1997 Yakima Hop Harvest





Buffalo, January 2002

"And I scarcely think we’ll get a drink, till we get to Buffalooooo!”

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm working on a companion volume to my Pennsylvania Breweries book, a similar tour guide called, imaginatively enough, New York Breweries. I'd only been to a handful of New York breweries when I signed on, so travel was in order. I decided to start with a trip out to western New York, because, well, what's the point of going to Buffalo if you don't do it in winter?

It was me, my dad, and my Uncle Don. Don’s been bar-hopping all his life, and I can just barely keep up with him now. If he was 20 years younger, I suspect my notes would be beer and grease-stained gibberish, instead of the terse snarls of discontent that they are now. That’s right: there were some severe disappointments on this trip, though I did find something to praise in almost every place.

We left my dad’s place in Lancaster County, PA on MLK Day, about mid-morning. We headed to Harrisburg to catch Rt. 11/15 north, but made a stop at Appalachian Brewing to get trade goods: a case of beer for Cathy’s uncle, who we were staying with that night.

Bad Start in Corning

It was a crappy day, spitting rain and snow, misty and gray. It was a pretty uneventful trip once we got out of Harrisburg, just one tense moment when I went out to pass a truck on an outside curve and suddenly hit a big patch of slush. Around 3:00 we roared into Corning. God smiled, and the sun came out. It was cold, but pretty. We stopped at the Corning Museum of Glass to get brochures and trinkets (I got Cathy an Italian glass bud vase), then piled in the minivan and skittered down to the Market Street Brewpub, right on time for my 3:30 appointment with owner Pelham McClellan.

Who wasn’t there. In fact, he never did show up: he had gone to SEE A MOVIE. Snow Dogs, of all things. Well, hell. So I started walking around, looking, taking notes, reading the menu, looking out at the upstairs deck, seeing the view out the various windows. Then we tasted beer.

Aw, jeez. We’ll let the notes talk: “Lager, pale yellow, smells a tad sour, tastes a tad sour, can’t get past that.” “D’Artagnan Dark Ale: deep roasty aroma, chocolaty, like good wheat toast. Jesus! It’s sour as a bitch! There’s a problem here.” “Hibernator 12-grain wheat ale: smooth, mellow, a bit yeasty-sharp, the beginnings of the same problem as the others. Soooo... 3 out of 5 suck.” The other two were, by the way, completely acceptable, if not amazing: a pale ale and a blackberry lager that was nice and fruity-tart. [Note: Pelham since has admitted that beers turn rather slowly in the slow winter season. Unfortunate, but at least he's honest. That's good, but it would be better if he took them off when they went sour.] The bar snacks were lethal, BTW: tasted like they’d been dipped in habañero, and the jerk chicken sandwich was noted on the menu as “truly hot, not for sissies.” I’ll bet. Other than that, the menu sounded pretty good: Thai scallops, beer sausage, and a cream-based artichoke, rosemary and lemon soup that sounded pretty good.


I got tired of waiting, got some bar suggestions from the bartender, and Don and I hit Market Street. (My dad always sits in the car and reads. It's what he does, and it works for us.) First place was right across the street, Boomers’. Decent selection of taps, including Guinness and Rogue Dead Guy, we each had Ithaca Nut Brown, the first one of Ithaca’s beers I’d had that was good. Boomers’ was a nice place, with a good local wine selection and a very nice, clean bathroom (I always check).

We walked on down the street to Wet Goods. You could feet the age in this place, with its worn copper bar and old stone walls. “It used to be a hippie bar,” said one woman at the bar, “back when we were hippies.” I smiled. Good beer selection (we had a Paulaner Hefe and a Rogue Dead Guy: Rogue was everywhere), and just dug being in the place. Looked like it would get a little wilder at night.

Next stop was the Glory Hole, and I was most definitely apprehensive about going in there! Turns out “glory hole” is the glass-blower’s term for the hole where they dip the hot glass out for blowing. Whew. Nice place, with a lot of interesting glass-blowing memorabilia, and the best tap selection in town (not saying a lot, but... Hoegaarden, Guinness, Paulaner, Ithaca, Blue Moon, Rogue), friendly people at the bar, but it just seemed a bit sterile. Dunno.

We stumbled across the street to Pelham's Upstate Tuna Company (it was snowing by now). This was a kind of fancy place, also owned by Pelham McClellan, no surprise. They do grill-your-own steaks and fish. Not much on tap, but the bottle selection was outstanding. I had a Sam Smith Taddy Porter, Don had a Rare Vos. Nice bartender, reminded me of Christian Heim at Lancaster Brewing.

That was enough for the day! We checked the brewpub once more—still no Pelham—screw it, we headed west about an hour to Cath’s Uncle John’s place outside of Belmont, NY, had a late dinner, shot the breeze for about three hours, and went to bed. Got up, had a great breakfast, and headed up the road to Buffalo, where we’d have a much more arduous day ahead of us.


Day 2 : The Buffalo Marathon

After a nice drive up through frosty upstate countryside, our first stop was at Eddie’s Brewery, an extract brewery located in a bowling alley in Orchard Park, a suburb town southeast of Buffalo. Lou DiPrino and his boss Jim met with us, and we got to tasting.

I’ll tell you, these beers were not going to win GABF medals, but they are a lot better than almost anyone in Buffalo gives them credit for. Lou does a good job with this limited system, and does a full boil on each beer. That may not sound like much, but it makes a world of difference. It also helps that Lou likes his beers without a ton of CO2, the low carb helps the flavor a lot. And it’s kind of neat being in a bowling alley. I do recommend this place, and Orchard Park is a nice friendly little town.  

Onward: Buffalo Brewpub

Then it was another extract system at Buffalo Brewpub, New York’s oldest brewpub. There were 30 taps here, and three house beers...that looked almost exactly alike. Amber, Red, and Pale Ale. I hate to be rude, but this stuff was just barely beer. They pour extract in a tank, they run hot water in and mix it, they add yeast. That’s not brewing, that’s painting by numbers!

However, there were some redeeming features. First, those 27 taps were GOOD taps. Second, they have the biggest damned mug club I’ve ever seen, about 3,000 mugs, and of the first 50 they did, all but two are still active (and those two are dead). People have willed their mugs to descendants.

Finally, the wings. I ate a lot of wings this week, and these were definitely the best: hot and steaming fresh, possessed of that hot vinegar aroma that opens up the nose, and crisp-skinned. Don’t take my word for it; a variety of Buffalo sources I found gave these the nod of being at least in the top five. And that’s great, because every bar owner I met, I asked “Is it possible to have a bar in Buffalo and not serve wings?” Only one said yes, and he followed it up with “But not a successful one.” Wings are everywhere in this town...but more on that later.

Next we went to Schwabl’s for lunch. Schwabl’s is a Buffalo tradition, one of the best of the town’s “beef on weck” places. Beef on weck is a Buffalo tradition. Take juicy roast beef. Slice it by hand, while still steaming, and layer it on a kummelweck roll that has been dipped in the juices. Kummelweck is a roll baked with caraway seeds and crusted with salt. They dip the cut sides in the meat juices, layer the beef on, and cover it. It is served with a deliciously flavorful and not-quite-stingingly fierce pot of horseradish. Schwabl’s beef was tender, the roll was fresh, and the big guy slicing meat was impressive. I also enjoyed a “Tom & Jerry,” a hot whisky drink with some thick meringue-like batter floated on top that they only sell December through February. This place ruled, with its old dark paneling, tiny bar, and Blanche-type waitresses.  

Next up: Pearl Street Brewing

Pearl Street is WAY downtown. Buffalo, of course, sits on the furthest northeast corner of Lake Erie, and the street grid radiates out from the port like a fan. The Pearl Street brewpub is about three blocks from the water. It’s fortuitously close to the hockey stadium and the minor league baseball park, and they get a ton of biz out of them.

I have to mention a bartender, Linda Kennedy. I’m pretty sure that’s her name. Wow. About 6 foot, blonde, friendly, and stunning. The brewer, Paul Koehler, told me she gets about three marriage proposals a week. All I can figure is that Buffalo men must be a cold-blooded lot: only three? Whew.

Anyway. It’s a cool place, on three floors. The basement is the pool hall, rock walls, a real rathskellar kind of feel. Main floor has big windows on the street, very sunny that day, cosmopolitan as I felt the whole time in Buffalo. Third floor has more pool tables, a banquet hall, and a whole bunch of nekkid statues. Dunno why.

BEER! Paul’s a pretty analytical brewer. Not overly adventurous, but what he makes is damned good. The Seneca Saaz is a Saaz hopped golden ale that was so surprisingly good, crisp, and hoppy that I got a growler to go. Trainwreck is his altbier, and he considers it his signature beer. Old penny color, a nice balance of malt and hops in the aroma, with a good biscuity flavor. Lake Effect Pale Ale has a dark gold color and a snappy hop aroma. Plenty of malt, and lots of hop flavor. Good beer. I also tried his winter beer, Santa’s Space Heater, a malty Brit winter warmer style: “Smooth, malty, sweetish, some fruitiness, a bit thicker in the finish, but in a nice way.” I was shocked to learn it was 7.5%. I’d have guessed about 6. There’s a knee-wobbler!

I enjoyed Pearl Street a lot, it was a good brewpub, a hell of a relief after the two extract places. Sorry, extract guys, but it’s the truth. I was seriously nervous after visiting them. Pearl Street saved it.

And the man who REALLY saved the whole Buffalo trip showed up at the end of my Pearl Street visit: Tim Herzog, the prez and brewer at Flying Bison, Buffalo’s micro. Tim met us to take us on a bold tour of Buffalo’s bars. It would be one hell of a night.

Chasing Tim

Tim Herzog had already been a big help, getting me names and numbers, and phoning ahead to brewers to introduce me. He actually scheduled my appointment with Paul Koehler. He’s a big Buffalo booster, despite having been born in Rochester (Buffalo joke: how Rochesterites does it take to screw in a light bulb? 25,001. One to screw it in, and 25,000 to comment on how much brighter, whiter, and more attractive it is than the light bulbs in Buffalo.) He’s also a brewery booster, the president of NY’s small brewer’s guild.

Tim looks like a WWI flying ace; luxuriant moustache, jaunty stance, tall, slender frame, and that devil-may-care look in his eyes. The man knows everything beer-related about Buffalo, past and present, and quite a bit that’s un-beer-related. He got in our minivan and we headed out for a bar tour. The minivan was having electrical problems: the door-closed sensor was acting up and the damned ‘beep-beep’ kept going and the interior lights were stuck on. It slowly drove Tim crazy, but we pressed on.

First stop, around 5:30, was the Colter Bay Grill. Right on the corner of Delaware and Allen in the artsy Allenwood district, Colter Bay is wrapped with glass on the two street sides, and fills its space with a big hollow-square bar. It was Buffalo’s first multi-tap, and on quick inspection seems to be doing a pretty good job; it was busy, service was good, and the conversation was louder than the music. Free wings during happy hour, too. But then Tim started pointing things out, like: all but two of the taps came from the same wholesaler, who was obviously picking the beers for them. The beers that were there were well over half crap or yawner micros. And the killer: he told me to look down the bar in both directions and see what people were drinking. I could see probably 30 drinks, and only 5 of them were beers; three of those were Tim, me, and Uncle Don. They’ve lost their way, it seems, and that’s a shame.

Next stop: Ulrich’s, the oldest bar in Buffalo. Opened in 1868, ran as a tavern the whole time, including during Prohibition. NY governor and Democratic prez candidate Al Smith ate here during the campaign as a statement of support for wet politics. The bar is fantastic, outstanding, a well-maintained and largely un-restored time capsule of a place. The food’s supposed to be noteworthy, but they only serve it on weekends. We drank Tim’s beer: Aviator Red, a nicely malt-balanced red Irish ale, what Killian’s should be. I hit the head, and saw the urinals were full of ice. I had to ask, it’s my job: “Oh, ah, that’s an old trick.” Trick for what? I pressed. “Ah, to, ah, keep the smell down.” Hey, nothing to be embarrassed of: I’m here to tell you, it worked great, and didn’t gag me like some of those perfumed sanitizer cakes do! Good small beer selection, original wood-front coolers, tin ceiling... I heartily recommend this place. 

Chow Call

Time for dinner (gotta lay in a base, ya know?), and Tim knew just the place: Papa Jake’s, 1672 Elmwood Ave. Good taps (about 20), good bottle selection, and real good eats. We ate in the booths in the back, where the sides of the booths are hand-carved into proudly Polish double-headed eagles. There’s lots of seafood on the menu, but Tim urged us to try the grilled meatloaf sammich, and we did. Woof! What a sandwich! Take a slice of spicy meatloaf about the size of a Steven King paperback, grill it, dump fried onions and provolone on it, and serve it on toasted French bread. Delish, and talk about laying in a base! We split some barbecue wings, which is when I pretty much decided that Buffalo should stick to what it does best, the hot wings. Also had a plate of fries, which they brag on in their menu: they should, these were great! More of Tim’s Aviator Ale (hey, the least we could do with the man taking us around!), then we drove back to pick up Tim’s van, and he led us to the next spot.

This was the Sterling Place Tavern. It wasn’t much to look at, really: linoleum floor, drop ceiling, the only decorations were beer signs. But one of those beer signs was an Anchor Porter neon, the only one I’ve ever seen. Truly, a good sign. There’s nothing really special at the Sterling Place, no fancy wings, no antique beer signs, no tons of weird crap hanging from the ceiling, no mug club. It’s all about beer and people, and I loved the place. Here’s the taps: Courage Amber, Spaten Optimator, Caffrey’s, Beamish Stout, Guinness, Newcastle, Flying Bison Blackbird Stout, Great Lakes Porter, Foster’s (I gave John hell about that, he looked sheepish and said he had to have something for yellow beer drinkers), SNCA, Anchor Liberty, and Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale. Get a good pilsner on there yet, and you got something for everyone!

We were getting a bit weary by now, but Tim chivvied us out the door (my dad was sleeping in the van when we got there) to head for the Pizza Plant at Walker Center. I wish we had a place like this near me. Walker Center is just a shopping plaza, but the Pizza Plant is more than a pizza place: they have pods. Pods are what other places call calzones, but the Pizza Plant has a lot of fun with them, stuffing them with all kinds of good stuff, and illustrating them with fanciful artwork of giant pods, alive pods, sailing pods. But they also have a small bar with some beers I didn't see anywhere else in Buffalo: cask Middle Ages, Cooperstown Benchwarmer Porter, Dogfish Head, Allagash White! Their other taps were the best Buffalo had to offer, including Tim's Dawn Patrol, and their own (okay, Custom Brewcrafters-made-for-them-own) Inferno Pod Ale. This stuff is excellent, brisk, peppery with hops, and bright in the mouth. Woke me right up, I tell ya.

Good thing, because Tim had one more bar for us, Buffalo's top beer bar, Alternative Brews. With 100 bottles and 20 taps (and damned good ones), this is the best place for selection in the area. It's an old Chinese restaurant, but there's not a hint of that decor left. It's a blues bar now, with major acts and a great selection of cigars. We hung there for a while, chatting with the veteran bartender through a couple beers (that chapped Dad's arse, I'm sorry to say: he was getting tired and cold in the van!). A mellow place late on a Tuesday night. We finally said good night to Tim and headed for our motel. 


Day 3: Dawn Patrol

Awake! for morning in the Bowl of Night has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to flight! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just want to sleep another 10 minutes... We were dragging the next morning, true to tell, but we showered and shaved (well, Don shaved) and got out the door for a 9:00 appointment at Flying Bison. It was a gray day, some light rain spitting down, and cold, just above freezing. We grabbed a quick OJ and a roll, and rolled into the parking lot behind the huge building that houses the brewery and some other businesses. 

Tim met us at the door, and we took great pleasure in noting that he looked even worse than us! He took us in and poured coffee, then told us about the building. It was a World War II-era General Motors parts warehouse, incredibly huge for a timber-framed building. "Trains used to come right into this building," Tim told us, pointing out the trench in the concrete floor where the tracks used to run. 

Flying Bison's running a 20 bbl. Criveller system from right over in Niagara Falls, ON, with tanks that are a mixture of ones BridgePort grew out of and ones Potomac River didn't need once they got bought. Tim's partner, Phil Internicola, was brewing up a batch of IPA on their pilot brewery, smelled great. Tim's two best-selling beers are the Dawn Patrol, a fairly big version of a kölsch, and Aviator Red, an Irish ale ("It's a Smithwick's knockoff," Tim admitted) that's a tribute to his late partner, Red Mrozek. 

I love the fact that Tim's biggest sellers are beers that are not considered 'flagship' styles.  "We make them because no one else does," Tim said with a wry grin I remembered well from the night before. Then he poured me some of his Blackbird Oatmeal Stout. Sweet lord, what a black, black beer with a big roasty aroma and a sweet malty body that's cut through with that roasted character. My only complaint was that it finished a bit short, but that's truly a minor flaw: great beer.

We thanked Tim profusely for his hospitality, and his guidance the night before, and went over to Premier Gourmet, at 3465 Delaware Avenue. Wow! What a great, GREAT place! Food (and a big cheese selection), wine, cooking utensils, spices, condiments, and an immense selection of great beer. Hats off to this place, it's a must-stop in Buffalo. I got some cheese curds and a couple Belgians.

Hits and Misses

Then we took a quick run up to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side. Breezed through Customs, and headed over to Niagara Falls Brewing for an unplanned visit. We talked to the front girl, who quickly hooked us up with the marketing guy, and we were into our second tasting before lunch. Niagara Falls has, I'm somewhat sorry to say, dumbed their line down to a certain extent. The big beers, Old Jack and Brock's, aren't what they were, though the Gritstone is actually nicer than I remember. Tradeoff, but I do miss the huge Brock's. They ought to let the brewers run the company: see Victory as an example.

We took a quick look at the Falls, then zipped down to the Duty Free at the Peace Bridge for a quick lunch (no, I didn't do McDonald's) before heading back into Buffalo for four quick bar visits. We hit the Essex Tavern, where we found a charming young barmaid overseeing a grungy bar with obnoxious metal music and crap beer: not recommended. However, across the street (kind of, it's an odd angle) is the Left Bank (511 Rhode Island Ave), a somewhat elegant but not overbearing restaurant with a small but select bottle and draft selection, good spirits and coffees, fairly deep wine list, and food that was well-recommended to us by a number of people. 

Next was Mr. Goodbar, who wasn't. It looked good and bad, right away; 40 taps in a sparse place with a frathouse smell. But the 40 taps...the good handles were all "No, we don't have that anymore" and the rest were shite. The bathrooms were nasty: metal troughs that had been beaten on by steroid types. We bolted without a beer and headed to Cole's, which was thronged with yuppie scum, but quite nice nonetheless. They were sporting some nice drafts (Dawn Patrol, SNPA, Custom Brewcrafters' Christmas beer) and a very nice selection of spirits in a beautiful setting, complete with fancy/deco overhead light fixtures and an 8-man scull up there as well. I liked the place, had a good feel to it.

Then it was off to the stop Don had been waiting for: the Anchor Bar, the home of the Buffalo wing. The Anchor is not a place you'll ever go for beer -- McSorley's, Genny Cream, and Guinness were about it -- but you're not here to taste beer, you're here to quench the heat. I got mediums, Don got atomic, and...they were good, but it must have been slow, as they were obviously refugees from a heat lamp. I was disappointed. Still, I've been there!

We went down to Orchard Park for dinner at Eckl's, a recommended weck house. Again, disappointment. The counterman was about 19, the roll was dry, the beef was tough, and the decor was like a suburban joke: dark red, fake antique metal. And I had to keep running out to the parking lot to deal with the van's continuing electrical problems. 

There was only one place left on my Buffalo list: the Buffalo Tap Room. I'm happy to say, after all the disappointment that day, I was very pleased with this place! Ten Custom Brewcrafters beers on tap, Dawn Patrol AND Aviator Red, Ithaca Nut Brown, and Guinness, thank you very much. We were blessed with Bill, a witty and urbane bartender ("Oh, a writer! Thank God, I can be multisyllabic again!") who served us samplers of the CBC drafts. There was a great vibe in here, with a wide range of customers and a nice light/noise level. Recommended.

We realized we had to do something about the van's electrical system. We couldn't lock the doors or turn off the interior lights, and we were concerned that it wouldn't start the next morning. We stopped at Wal-Mart and bought cheap pliers and a screwdriver to disconnect the battery, then headed for the motel. Luckily, Don happened to think of fuses. Sure enough, removing one fuse solved the problem, and we hit the sack, only to be serenaded by a very excited and passionate couple next door. The things you experience in cheap motels...

Day 4: The Thaw

It was going to be a long driving day. We had to drive down to Fredonia, across the hills to Ellicottville, then down to southeastern PA. We fortified ourselves with a big breakfast and set out into the cold, heavy rain.

We rolled into Fredonia early, and scouted around for likely bars in the town. They all looked like crap, to be honest, so we parked across from Barker Brew Company and I walked in. I'd already met the brewer, Joe Rogers, a year before, and he introduced me to his able and eager assistant, Loran Peterson; his partner, the charming Bobbi Pike; and the brewpub's publicity guy, Matt Capogrecco. We sat down and started talking. 

Joe's an excellent brewer, one of the best in the state, for my money, and he's particular about his beers. He tweaks constantly, something reflected in the way he rarely gives his beers the same names on the brew-board.  But he's no boring geek, he's a fascinating lecturer on brewing and stylistic evolution. 

His beer rules. He has one of the best ESB's I've ever had (took a growler), a subtle and silky beer that delights with every sip. His porter is likewise a beer with a surprise around every corner, a pleasure to sip (took a big growler). And his Scotch Ale is beefy with malt, product of a 2.5 hour boil (umm...growler). Some kind of stuff, you gotta get up there and try it.

Reluctantly, we pulled out of town, headed over the hills for Ellicottville. Let me tell you: there are no good ways to get from Fredonia to Ellicottville, especially when you're in the middle of a thaw that's loosing mudflows across back roads! Then I had to make a roadside relief stop. Wouldn't you know, as I'm zipping up, I spot a cop car headed our way. I whipped up the hatchback on the van and opened the cooler, just as she pulled in behind us. Oh, hell, why's she stopping?

"Good afternoon, sir," she says, cop-like. "Can I ask why you're stopped here?" Is there an alien autopsy site around here or something?

"Good afternoon, officer," I reply, figuring I can match her for pleasantries. "It's not something you hear every day, but I'm shifting growlers." I gestured at the cooler.

Bingo! I stumped the cop! The look of "Huh?" on her face was priceless. "You're what?" she was forced to ask.

"We've been up to Buffalo and we're just coming from Fredonia; we've been visiting breweries." I whipped out a business card. "That's what I do. And I've got all these sample jugs of draft beer to take home and write about--" I grabbed a big 2-liter fliptop out and waved it around "--and they were bumping each other in the cooler. I stopped to re-arrange them."

"Oh." She had the decency to grin. "You're right, that's not one you hear every day. I just stopped because there's not usually much traffic out here, and it's a bad day, thought you might be having some trouble." 

Uh-huh. I had a friend who was a rural cop, officer, he told me all about how bored you guys get. "Hey, thanks, officer! But we're fine now that I've got my jugs settled. Have a good one." I got back in and we drove off. Hee hee!

Ski Bums

We finally got into Ellicottville and went to visit Peter Kreinheder at the Ellicottville Brewing Company, a nice and sharp brewpub in town. They make darn good beer here, I'd been hankering to visit ever since I had some of their porter at a beer festival about five years ago. Peter lined them up for me, and I tasted right through them. Not a clinker in the bunch -- no, I take that back. Their winter beer was a spiced helles: what loonie came up with that idea? Sorry, guys, but how could you do that to an innocent little lager?! The rest were great, though, particularly the Blackjack Stout, a flavorful nitro-dispense beauty that weighed in at a tiny 2.9%. An all-day beer with plenty of flavor: great idea for selling a lot of beer!

The building was originally built as a funeral parlor, and has been a church and a lumber mill (Ellicottville was originally a lumber town, and still has two mills) since then. The place had dirt floors when Kreinheder bought it. It's an airy open space now, with a wonderful little tree-shaded beer garden outside. EBC is a great place in the summer, and pretty nice in the winter, too. 

We talked to Peter, and got the notes, but I was starting to flag by now; as my Dad says, I could smell the barn ("I'm like an old horse; I'm on the way home and I smell the barn, I don't want to turn aside for anything") , and I wanted to get home. So Don and I tramped down the street to the Gin Mill: what a great name! Cool place, too, I liked it a lot. Lots of European flavor from the ski slopes: slivovitz and ouzo on the back bar, lots of mounted game heads on the walls. There was an old Bevador cooler in Rolling Rock livery, old red-painted chest coolers, and the original brick interior walls; lot of character here. And lookie there, on tap: Erie Railbender! We grabbed two of those big bad boys and relaxed, talked about the trip. 

One more stop: Mother Murphy's. The place was empty, but the very nice bartender, Lisa Plaster, made us feel really welcome. We had pints of Guinness -- I mean, in "Mother Murphy's," what else are you gonna have? -- and we sampled some of the weird booze on her shelves that she hadn't had yet, 1,2,3 for each of us. Nice way to spend a lazy afternoon hour, and a great way to end the trip. We finally weighed anchor, paid and tipped, and strolled out into the van.

Dad took the wheel down to Bradford, where we called our wives, had a quick dinner, and headed for the barn. Six hours later they were home, an hour and a half after that, I was pulling in the driveway. Good trip, a little over a thousand miles. I was pretty pleased with Buffalo: some great bars there, and the beer was pretty good, some of it excellent. I'm looking forward to getting back soon.




Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: May 18, 2005