The recent spate of cold weather and post-holiday cabin fever had the Sig Other and I yearning for a warm and cozy night out (as in temperature, not necessarily romantic).
Ironically we found both at the popular Buffalo Brew Pub.
The bar is separated from the busy dining room by a half-wood/half-window wall. The low ceiling gives a nice snug feel, while an entrance fireplace warms the place up. There’s no seating by the fire, but the heat is welcoming just the same.
The main bar was full, so we grabbed a couple of seats on a ledge along the separation wall. (Someone smartly hung café curtains so bar patrons wouldn’t stare down diners.) There are coat hooks, and for us gals, hooks under the bar for purses.
We liked the mixed-age crowd and a nice hum of the place. The ’80s music (Elton John, Madonna, REO Speedwagon) wasn’t overpowering, and encouraged conversation.
The Brew Pub touts itself as New York’s oldest. Beers are produced in the giant gleaming kettles visible through the dining room.
Grabbing a beer menu, Sig Other was in love (hence the romance) – 34 selections! Thankfully, descriptions help those of us who are willing but “not-normal-beer-drinkers.”
While Sig Other bought a couple of house Buffalo Lagers (described as “light bodied, golden with a very balanced flavor and soft clean finish – makes it a great first beer of the day”) I snagged a basket of free help-yourself peanuts next to the free popcorn.
As a nonbeer expert, I have to say the Buffalo Lager was as advertised. Delicious. Perfect with salty peanuts.
For real beer buffs, there are much more ambitious selections. The pub keeps up with trends and stocks beers according to customers’ tastes. We noted the beer menu was dated for one week, so we assumed it changes regularly.
After about 10 minutes, we pounced on two vacated stools at the main bar.
The old bartender in me immediately spotted the classic Bevador cooler in the corner. Loved it as well as the more visible and funny tap heads along the back bar.
House beer taps occupy the middle space and were identified by an eagle, leprechaun, buffalo head and what looked like a buxom English serving girl. Other taps we loved were the Goose Island 312 from Chicago (a black telephone receiver) and a giant brown bag for Long Trail Brown Bag from Vermont.
Excellent bartenders helped customers make selections, but we laughed as some people apparently picked according to the tap head. Lots of people ate at the bar, including us. (The bartenders are just as cheerful about it. We’ve had grumpy encounters in other establishments.)
As we ate, we chuckled at some of the names etched into Mug Club mugs we spotted on a shelf, like “The Director” and especially “Catfish” (Manti Te’o’s mug?).
We saw more mugs in the back room. Apparently 9,000 numbers have been used with 2,000 active members!
Was the gal next to us drinking from her “Fun” mug one of the original members?
While we didn’t ask, we have to agree, drinking beer in the Buffalo Brew Pub is fun and a whole lot more.
Buffalo Brew Pub
Where: 6861 Main St., Amherst (632-0552, www.buffalobrewpub.com)
The Scene: A bar on the corner that’s more than a corner bar. Warm and inviting – dress in tavern attire.
Drinks: 34 beers on tap, including four house selections. Download a beer menu online. Drafts, $3.75-$5. Bottled beers, $4-$5. Mixed drinks and wines available, but why would you?
Extras: Nice flat-screens for sports. Metal-tipped darts. Free peanuts and popcorn.
Mug Club: Drink 20 pints of beer (but not in one night!) to become a member. Get a mug with your name and number. Discounts of $1 off throughout the year and a Mug Club party in the summer. Mug Club hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; all day Sunday and Monday.
Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Hours: Kitchen is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to midnight on Sunday. Bar stays open later.