Destination Drinking: Buffalo

Written by on October 5, 2015 in Beer, Destination Drinking - 3 Comments

If the only thing you know about the foodie scene in Buffalo is “wings” then — in the words of Ygritte from Game of Thrones — you know nothing. Upscale gastropubs, hand-crafted cocktails and about a dozen breweries make Buffalo, New York worthy of some serious destination drinking.

Resurgence Brewing Company


Resurgence welcomes you into its laid back taproom with an open view of the brewery’s stainless steel equipment inside and a massive beer garden outside. A rotating food truck schedule supplements the brewery’s own small plate offerings. Try the Spongecandy stout for a smokey sweet treat, and be sure to pick up some actual spongecandy while you’re in Buffalo — this local chocolate-coated spongy mollasses candy is totally craveworthy.


Buffalo-Resurgence Brewing

Resurgence Brewing Company
1250 Niagara St

Old First Ward Brewing

Old First Ward beer flight buffalo

In the heart of the old Irish working class neighborhood, just down the street from the now-abandoned grain silos, sits Gene McCarthy’s, one of the oldest bars in Buffalo, and now also the home of Old First Ward Brewing. Gene McCarthy’s is a neighborhood bar in every sense of the word but the Old First Ward add-on is brewing up a top-quality kolsch and pilsner.

Old First Ward Gene McCarthys

Gene McCarthy’s
73 Hamburg St

Big Ditch Brewing Company


On a Friday night the recently-opened taproom at Big Ditch Brewing was the packed place to be. With shovel tap handles and beer names like “excavator,” Big Ditch carries their theme throughout. Big Ditch serves up sandwiches, small plates and a small selection of house-brewed American ales.


Big Ditch Brewing Company
55 E Huron St

Pearl Street Grill & Buffalo


One of Buffalo’s oldest still-operating breweries, Pearl District has been brewing since 1997 in the heart of a now-thriving waterfront district. Three stories of patio space make this an ideal outdoor day drinking destination, weather cooperating. A solid lineup of brews, including an especially tasty Black IPA, join a full food menu.


Pearl Street Grill & Brewery
76 Pearl St

Buffalo Proper


No matter how much you like craft beer, you probably need a break from it – and you definitely need to eat. Buffalo Proper is the perfect place for both. This upscale mixology bar has an impressive selection of craft cocktails an an equally impressive shared plates menu.



Buffalo Proper
333 Franklin St

Hydraulic Hearth


The name “Community Beer Works” comes up a lot in Buffalo but while CBW has its own taproom with a 1.5 bbl nanobrewery, most of their beers are actually brewed in Hydraulic’s back room. Hydraulic has one of the coolest outdoor spaces I’ve ever seen at a brewery, and on a Saturday morning we got to soak it all in with live music (offered three days a week) and amazing meats from The Whole Hog food truck, which is replaced by an in-house kitchen in the winter months.

Hydraulic-Beer Garden-Buffalo

Hydraulic-Buffalo-Whole Hog

Hydraulic Hearth
716 Swan St

Flying Bison Brewing Company

Flying Bison-Buffalo-Brewery

Flying Bison, just down the block from Hydraulic Hearth, is the largest brewery by volume in Buffalo, and offers a solid lineup of brews and is the only Buffalo brewery to offer cask-conditioned ales (at least of the eight breweries I visited.) In addition to a small library of board games — and anyone who knows me knows that a brewery with a board game library is an automatic win in my book.

Flying Bison-Buffalo-Games

Flying Bison-Buffalo-outside

Flying Bison Brewing Company
840 Seneca St

Hamburg Brewing Company

Hamburg Brewing-Buffalo

Hamburg is about half an hour outside of Buffalo, but if you’re looking for a scenic retreat it’s worth the drive. The interior of the brewery has a cozy cottage feel and the outside borders a picturesque small pond. Bonus: the brewery features a train room with one of Western New York’s largest model train sets, available to view on their frequently offered paid brewery tours.


Hamburg Brewing Company
6553 Boston State Rd

Blue Monk

Buffalo-Blue Monk

Another dinner destination, Blue Monk is a foodies dream and a craft beer lovers paradise, with 32 drafts, beer cocktails and “sour Saturdays” and high-end gastropub fare to match, often utilizing beer in the dishes (Ommegang briased short ribs anyone? MMM.) They’ve event got draft pairing picks for dessert!


Blue Monk
727 Elmwood Ave

After you’ve drank the city dry, take the 20 minute trip to experience Niagara Falls. It’s one of those things you have to do at least once in your life. And hop on the Maid of Mist, even if it’s freezing. You just have to get up close to that bad boy.

Niagara Falls

Buffalo is only a five hour drive from Columbus, making it a perfect weekend getaway for some destination drinking. With Cleveland serving as the almost-halfway-point, it’s an ideal stop for squeezing in an additional brewery visit on the drive there or back: Willoughby Brewing is right along the route and has some great lunch fare (and of course, dat Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter.)


THANK YOU to Brian Hayden from Visit Buffalo Niagara for being an amazing host and tour guide for this trip. Come see us in Columbus sometime so I can return the favor.


full disclosure: Visit Buffalo Niagara covered all expenses for this trip

About the Author

Cheryl Harrison. Editor of Drink Up Columbus. Co-Founder of the Columbus Ale Trail.

Leave a Comment