Paying Homage to NYS’ Original Brewpub
An Afternoon History Lesson at Buffalo Brewpub
by Joe Wright – Upstate Beer Tourist
With Mrs. UBT on holiday break, a leisurely pre New Years afternoon stroll up Transit Road from Orchard Park was the plan. We landed at the iconic Buffalo Brew Pub in Williamsville at Main and Transit. Admittedly it had been some time (a good eight years) since I had stepped in New York State’s OG Brewpub. The low-ceilinged, rustic brewpub was just as I remembered it when I often frequented it during my days at Canisius College in the mid 90’s. With the same real dartboards on the walls, popcorn sprinkled on the floor and Black Sabbath providing the background music.
Bri the bartender warmly greeted us at the bar as we started on our flight of four and waited for Chris Townsell the GM to free up a little time to come and chat. We went with the Kringle Holiday Seasonal, their signature Buffalo Lager, Amber Ale and the Buffalo Breakfast Stout, a collaboration with Resurgence Brewing Co. The flight of four was a generous pour at only $5.75. After a long Sunday with a home Bills game the day before, the Buffalo Lager really did the trick for me, crisp and refreshing. The light and even bodied Buffalo Breakfast Stout was also worthy of the customary follow up choice after the flight. Highly recommend a visit here while the Resurgence collab Breakfast Stout is still available. Brewed and conditioned with local maple syrup, Olmstead coffee, chocolate bark, and aged with local bourbon soaked oak spirals.
For round two, yours truly went back to the Lager while the Mrs. went with the Gingerbread Porter. A 5.5% with the right amount of spice and not overwhelming while brewed with three types of malt and Galena and Chinook hops.
Once Chris Townsell freed himself up to chat, the history lesson commenced. Owned and operated by the Townsell family from day one, Buffalo Brewpub opened its doors in 1986 becoming New York State’s first brewpub with brewing on premises. As we look back now, it is Buffalo Brewpub that served as the incubator for Western New York’s brewing rebirth that sat dormant for decades.
Chris shared some neat history on Buffalo Brewpub that featured Tim Herzog, Founder of Flying Bison Brewing Company, and the defacto Don of Western New York Brewing. It was at Buffalo Brewpub where Herzog got his start and helped craft early recipes with Townsell. In 1990 Tim moved on to open Flying Bison while Townsell has provided the foundation for Buffalo Brewpub’s brewing operation since. The Buffalo Lager currently on tap was a creation of Herzog’s back in the early days that is produced by Flying Bison still.
With thirty four taps, and usually four to six in-house produced beers, Buffalo Brewpub’s roots have remained true for over thirty years. Providing a cozy, old-school brewpub atmosphere complemented with simple comfort food and a little buffalo flare such as chicken wing soup, house made chips with Bison Dip, wings, beef on weck, fish fry, wings and buffalo chicken salad to name a few. Buffalo Brewpub really checks its ego at the door when it comes to beer. With a short in-house offering, Buffalo Brewpub’s focus is on their regulars as Townsell shared, “we are not afraid to put on another brewery’s beer if that’s what our regulars like.”
Speaking of regulars, I struck up a pleasant conversation with one of Buffalo Brewpub’s original regulars after wrapping up with Townsell. Partaking in a pint with Russ Ward from Lancaster, NY was emblematic of Buffalo Brewpub’s commitment to its regulars. A customer since its opening in 1986 and mug club member, Russ raved about the Brewpub’s hot suicide wings, steak sandwich and Oktoberfest beer while partaking in a Kringle Seasonal. An avid college football fan, Russ also commented how the well the staff there takes great care of him on Saturdays during the college football season.
In today’s day and age, with Taj Mahal breweries popping up, instant gratification and serial Yelpers running rampant, there is something to say for history, consistency and longevity. These important elements and characteristics seem to fall by the wayside in today’s culture. It’s a good thing to be reminded of them and where movements originate. At Buffalo Brewpub, you’ll get just that.
To find out more about Buffalo Brewpub, visit their website here.
6861 Main St.
Williamsville, NY 14221
Open everyday at 11:30am for lunch