Western New York Craft Beer Magazine – Craft Beer

Brews Traveler

Brewhound’s Top 10 Places for a Beer

In case you missed it, Draft Magazine came out with their annual “Top 100 U.S. Beer Bars” list a couple weeks back. Once again, Buffalo and Blue Monk got snubbed. Outside of NYC, the entire state of New York got snubbed. That goes for Rochester and Tap & Mallet as well. I’ve been to bars on Draft Mag’s list that certainly don’t live up to the caliber of WNY’s own Blue Monk. As our beer scene progresses, eventually Draft Mag will take notice, and if they don’t? Screw ‘em, it’ll be our little secret.

But the annual article got me thinking about my favorite spots I’ve traveled to and enjoyed some craft beer. While Draft’s annual list does not include brewery taprooms or brewpubs, there are some that I’ve loved as much as the best bars I’ve been to. Sometimes the best spots for beer have to do with the actual place, not just the beer list. Over a couple beers, Mrs. Brewhound and I reminisced about our favorite beer drinking locales, and here’s the Top 10 we came up with in no particular order…

1. Cisco Brewery Nantucket, MA: If all you know from Cisco is their Whale’s Tail Pale and Sankaty Light, there’s a vast array of other beers they brew out on Nantucket. Some stellar sours and other small batch beers all being poured in a park-like setting, with live music, dogs frolicking the grounds, and oysters being shucked right outside the bar. Brewhound heaven.

2. Bellwoods Brewery Toronto, ON: It’s not often that the tasting bar of a brewery nails it on decor and ambiance, but Bellwoods takes every meticulous detail and hammers it home. From the bar itself, to the stools, to the shelving behind the bar, to the tap handles, to the lighting, to their small food menu, this is the type of place I could go to every night. Oh yeah, the beer is freaking amazing as well.

3. Lord Hobo Cambridge, MA: Dim lighting and dark woods pervade the space at Lord Hobo. It’s the type of place you want to settle in to your seat for a few hours, because their beer list never disappoints.

4. Naja’s Place Redondo Beach, CA: Just south of L.A., Naja’s sits on a marina boardwalk with views of the Pacific Ocean. This open-air bar boasts 88 beers on tap with some of the best that California has to offer. A kebab plate, a fresh IPA, and a sunset at Naja’s is a simple, yet beautiful thing.

5. Fat Head’s Pittsburgh, PA: Yes, Fat Head’s brews their beer in Cleveland and their brewpub there is worthy of this list, but the original Fat Head’s in Pittsburgh holds a special place in my heart. As a college student living on the South Side of Pittsburgh over a decade ago, I tried my first Dogfish Head 60 Minute, my first Bell’s Two Hearted, my first Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, just to name a few. It’s safe to say, I’ve never quite been the same because of Fat Head’s.

6. Waterbury, VTBecause this tiny little town in Vermont is like a beer lover’s paradise, it gets its own spot on the list. Prohibition Pig and Blackback Pub are two of my all-time favorite bars and they’re literally across the street from one another. Not to mention, The Reservoir is on the same block and offers a stellar tap list. Spending a night drinking on this one little block in Waterbury is close to being a religious experience.

7. Dieu du Ciel Montreal, QC: A brewpub that feels like a neighborhood bar; grab a seat wherever you can at Dieu du Ciel. With a tightly packed bar room, knowledgeable servers will dish on craft beer with you while bringing over flight after flight. DDC’s beers are some of the best in the world as well, not just Canada.

8. Spuyten Duyvil Brooklyn, NY: I’m not like Draft Mag, NYC only gets one spot on this list, and it goes to Spuyten Duyvil. Hipper, trendier spots like Torst dot the landscape of Brooklyn and NYC, but Spuyten Duyvil offers the vibe I’m looking for while sucking down a few pints. Their beer list, and cask game is on point as well.

9. Peg’s Cantina Gulfport, FL: While Cycle Brewing also has a location now in downtown St. Petersburg, Peg’s is the place to go. A full lineup of Cycle’s beers alongside some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Cycle just kills all things hoppy, not to mention some of their well known stouts, and Peg’s outdoor garden patio is just the place to taste everything on tap.

10. Falling Rock Tap House Denver, CO: One of the landmark craft beer bars in the United States, Falling Rock is still going strong, and a must visit on any trip to Denver.

 

Brews Traveler: Rochester

Looking for a nice short little beer trip? The following was featured in our fall issue of WNY Craft Beer Magazine. We take a look at where to grab a few craft beers in the city of Rochester. Cheers!


Brews Traveler: Rochester

The city of Rochester boasts a strong history of brewing. Over 50 breweries operated in the city before Prohibition. Similar to Buffalo, large German communities in Rochester provided immigrant workers that had brewing experience, and a culture that expected to have a brewery close by. Also like Buffalo, things changed drastically after Prohibition. Sure, they’ve had Genesee Brewing to lean on since the 1800s and Rohrbach Brewing is an old veteran of the craft beer game, brewing since 1991, but Rochester is still emerging as a craft beer town just like Buffalo.

Where should you go to get your craft beer fix next time you zip down the Thruway to Roc City? Well, might as well start at Roc Brewing. Open since the summer of 2011 in the East End neighborhood of the city, the brewery and tasting room are located right off the Inner Loop. Roc Brewing brings modern style to the city’s craft beer scene. With the entire front of the brewery all windows, it’s clear more thought went into this spot than just throwing some stainless steel in a warehouse.

Once inside, an L-shaped bar features nine taps including Roc’s four staple beers, Lil Sipa (name could be changed at print due to copyright), Dark Mild, Golden, and Cullinans Revival. These four beers are brewed on a larger system down the street at Rohrbach’s, while the remaining taps are constantly changing, and are brewed on Roc’s own one barrel system. Roc Brewing embraces the local community not just with their name, but also by using the brewery as an art gallery. Different local artists rotate every month or two, adorning the brewery’s walls with their work. With a shuffleboard table tucked against the back wall, and a long, gorgeous butcher block communal table for sipping beers, Roc Brewing is the perfect spot to start your Rochester craft beer journey.

From Roc Brewing you can head just two blocks over to The Old Toad. An authentic English pub, the Toad’s slogan is “A pub from over there, over here.” It’s a cozy place, with a small bar that’s even imported from Great Britain. Beer wise, the real authenticity of the place shines in their love of cask ales. They feature four beer engines that are always changing with different craft beer options on cask. Other than the casks, they also sport fifteen other taps. If you’re a fan of real ale, The Old Toad is a must stop when you’re in Rochester. Just to add more charm to the place, don’t be surprised if the person serving up your pint has an authentic English accent.

Once inside, an L-shaped bar features nine taps including Roc’s four staple beers, Lil Sipa (name could be changed at print due to copyright), Dark Mild, Golden, and Cullinans Revival. These four beers are brewed on a larger system down the street at Rohrbach’s, while the remaining taps are constantly changing, and are brewed on Roc’s own one barrel system. Roc Brewing embraces the local community not just with their name, but also by using the brewery as an art gallery. Different local artists rotate every month or two, adorning the brewery’s walls with their work. With a shuffleboard table tucked against the back wall, and a long, gorgeous butcher block communal table for sipping beers, Roc Brewing is the perfect spot to start your Rochester craft beer journey.

From Roc Brewing you can head just two blocks over to The Old Toad. An authentic English pub, the Toad’s slogan is “A pub from over there, over here.” It’s a cozy place, with a small bar that’s even imported from Great Britain. Beer wise, the real authenticity of the place shines in their love of cask ales. They feature four beer engines that are always changing with different craft beer options on cask. Other than the casks, they also sport fifteen other taps. If you’re a fan of real ale, The Old Toad is a must stop when you’re in Rochester. Just to add more charm to the place, don’t be surprised if the person serving up your pint has an authentic English accent.

Brews Traveler: Niagara-on-the-Lake

Brews Traveler

Visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Just 25 minutes beyond the Peace Bridge lies a town that feels worlds away from Western New York; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario provides the perfect getaway for Buffalonians needing a respite, but not having enough time to leave town for an extended stay. It is impossible to escape the sense of history throughout the quaint village. In Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) you live history, you don’t just read about it.

Shaw Festival and a vast array of wineries have drawn visitors for years, but how many people know that there is great craft beer available in the town now as well? For everyone that has tagged along on a wine trail adventure through Niagara-on-the-Lake, and only wanted a decent beer, you’re in luck.

Furthest from the village, but just outside the wine trail, lies the Niagara College Teaching Brewery. Right off the QEW, no special plans or scheduling is needed to pop-in for a visit on your way into NOTL. Niagara College features Canada’s first and only teaching brewery. A 1,500 square ft. brewing facility teaches students to brew on both large and small-scale brew systems. Successful completion of the college’s two-year program earns students their Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management Diploma.

Niagara-on-the-Lake…a teaching brewery fully-stocked with student creations for your sampling, and two fine craft breweries that rival the area’s many wineries in sense of place. The next time you head up to NOTL, remember it is by no means just about the wine anymore. Craft beer has officially arrived in wine country.