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