I'm still in disbelief myself.
Fortunately, for the one place that I went for a beer, I went to possibly the best place in the city to try beer.
It wasn't a brew pub: they did not make any beer themselves. But they did support a lot of craft brewers, and to me that's even better.
Coles Restaurant & Bar has been operating in Buffalo since 1934 and is touted as the friendliest bar in the city. I can believe it: being there with two young kids and my wife, the staff made us feel perfectly welcome. It's spacious hall design lent itself to a louder crowd (not that my kids are especially noisy), so kids wouldn't stand out.
The staff knows its beer, which is plentiful. There are 36 craft beers on tap, with countless more in bottles. Because I'm on an IPA kick these days, I was recommended two on tap, and because I couldn't make up my mind, our server, Jen, was happy to bring me samples of both.
I chose the one that came from a brewery that I visited last fall when my family and I toured the Finger Lakes region.
Flower Power American IPA (7.5% ABV)Appearance: a slightly hazy, deep wheat-gold, with a white head that dissipates to a fine lace.
Ithaca Beer Company
Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5
Nose: strong lemon citrus and orange peel.
Palate: sour grapefruit that is supported by solid, refreshing hops that come together in a light, fresh finish.
Overall impression: I should have picked up a ton of this beer when I visited the brewery in October. This is an extremely refreshing IPA with tons of flavour and the right amount of bitterness.
So if you can find it, grab it.
If you're in Buffalo, go to Coles, sit down with a good meal (the food is fresh and delicious, and the portions are generous). I thought I would end this post with some images I captured as I enjoyed my dining and drinking experience.
If I were to rate the restaurant on a similar scale to my beer ratings, I'd give Coles a 5.