Wings and Beer in Buffalo

When thinking of great beer towns, Buffalo didn't immediately come to my mind the way that other towns in the Northeast do like Boston, Baltimore or Brooklyn. All that changed for me after discovering the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, a gem of a brewpub in the heart of downtown Buffalo.

Aboard the Maid of the Mist

Anyone who's had the pleasure of visiting Wynkoop Brewing Company's pioneering brewpub in the fashionable LoDo section of Denver will notice striking similarities upon first visiting Pearl Street. This is no coincidence, since Pearl Street was opened in November 1997 as a partnership between Wynkoop and local investors led by managing partner Nick Wesley. In 1999, Wynkoop sold its stake in Pearl Street as part of its strategy to refocus on its original Denver brewpub. Now owned by Earl Ketry, Pearl Street has shown that putting a high quality brewpub and entertainment complex into a historic downtown building can do just as well in Buffalo as it did in Denver. Like Wynkoop in Denver, which is located in a historic building a few blocks from Coors Field, Buffalo's Pearl Street is situated in a historic building just steps from Coca-Cola Field, home of the Triple-A minor league baseball Buffalo Bisons. Pearl Street is also a short walk from HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres.

Pearl Street occupies four spacious floors of a renovated building built in 1841 that was first used as a dress factory and warehouse. The main floor makes good use of the old warehouse's high ceilings, with a large, open bar area and several dining areas, all with views of the brewhouse or serving tanks. In warm weather a patio fills up and features live music. The second floor has a sports bar including a 20-table billiard room, along with a small banquet room, and the third and fourth floors have large banquet rooms. In the basement is a New York-style deli called Brawler's Back Alley Deli, which opened in 2010 and serves traditional deli fare from Monday to Friday and when nearby sporting events are on.

A key to Pearl Streetís success is its eclectic menu best described as urban comfort food. The menu features interesting twists on familiar staples like beer braised pot roast, six cheese bowtie pasta and broiled chicken breasts served like a cheesesteak smothered with peppers, onions and cheddar cheese. In addition to a full range of meat and seafood dishes, Pearl Street offers plenty of lighter fare such as wings, salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas.

While the food and surroundings are impressive, the main attraction for beer lovers at Pearl Street are the brews. Brewmaster Phil Internicola, assisted by Kathryn Takats, features five regular beers at Pearl Street: the signature beer Trainwreck, a smooth German-style Altbier; Lake Effect, an aggressively hopped American Pale Ale; Street Brawler Stout, a delicious dry oatmeal stout; Lighthouse Premium Blond, a light blond ale with a crisp finish; and Wild Ox Wheat, a traditional unfiltered Hefeweizen. Pearl Street also sells beer to go in growlers, gallon jugs and 1/4 kegs, and demand has been strong with over 2,500 barrels of beer produced last year. With a clear commitment to quality, Pearl Street has put Buffalo on the map as a serious beer destination.

Pearl Street Grill and Brewery
76 Pearl Street, Buffalo
(716) 856-BEER

The famous Anchor Bar

While in downtown Buffalo, another must-visit spot is Frank & Teresa's Anchor Bar, the home of the original Buffalo chicken wing. According to legend, Buffalo's famous contribution to the menus of sports bars around the world was invented in 1964 at this homey Italian restaurant by Teresa Bellissimo, mother of current owner Dominic Bellissimo. The wings at the Anchor Bar are still deep fried like Teresa's and are served with the bar's original sauce, the recipe of which is a closely guarded secret. The sauce and the wings are available for sale on Anchor Bar's website, with the sauce having three flavors: Original, Hotter and Suicidal. According to the website, the restaurant serves over a thousand pounds of wings per day, and I can vouch that they are worth going out of your way for!

Frank & Teresa's Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street, Buffalo
(716) 886-8920

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