A Good Beer Bar is Hard to Find

Disclaimer: This is most likely going to turn into somewhat of a rant. I tend to get worked up when I discuss how craptastic most bars are.

Like countless other Americans, I visited a bar or two over this past holiday weekend. Many of my childhood comrades have moved far, far away so Christmas seems to be the only time of year that we can all get together. As tradition has it, several of us meet for a mini-reunion at a bar in our hometown of Rochester, NY.

We’re not really the kind of people interested in gathering at a bar dominated by the DJ and several strobe lights. Like most reasonable adults, we like laid-back places where you can enjoy a good beer and catch up without having to yell. It’s very sad to me how few of these places actually exist. Perhaps it’s just an Upstate NY bar scene problem but it seems to me your options are typically limited to the complete hole in the wall bars filled with drunken “locals” and gross macro brews served from dirty beer lines or even worse, jampacked clubs filled with guys who could be on Jersey Shore doing Jaeger bombs and dancing to hip-hop songs from three years ago.

A good beer bar really is hard to find!

Thankfully, we ended up at The Old Toad, which is one of the three bars in Rochester I can recommend (for curious Rochesterians, the other two are Tap & Mallet and Acme Bar & Pizza).

The atmosphere at The Old Toad is generally pretty relaxed and the staff comes from the other side of the pond, which seems to be a novel idea that really pays off. There’s a bit of beer history there too, as the Toad is the first pub to sell cask conditioned Real Ale in America. The good beer is always abundant (this past visit I enjoyed Bluepoint Winter Ale, some Seriously Bad Elf and Rogue Yellow Snow) and I definitely dig the kind of crowd they draw. My only complaint was the wait time but considering the place was packed, it’s forgivable. We ended up leaving and heading to another local bar (of the “club” variety) and I was so miserable that I ended up doing shots just to cope. That’s so not my style.

I feel like the Buffalo bar scene has a tad bit more to offer the craft beer lover – with Alternative Brews, Coles, Mr. Goodbar, Staples, Hardware, Laughlin’s and Sterling Place Tavern.

I’ve lived in Buffalo since the tender age of 18, so I’m much more familiar with their bar scene and I may very well be unaware of other great beer places in Rochester. If you know of any, please inform me!

If you live in a city with several great beer bars, please consider yourself lucky. MSNBC put together a list of the Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers and Portland, Oregon was the only U.S. city to make the cut. Men’s Journal kept it stateside and put together The Top Five Beer Towns in the U.S. but unfortunately the two closest beer towns are both a 7-hour drive. To me, that’s simply unacceptable.



  • Deron December 31, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    Liz for president!

  • Hannah December 31, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Cheers to that! I second that notion 🙂

  • M January 5, 2010 @ 1:21pm


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