In 2013, our good friend Julia Burke told me about a dive bar in Cheektowaga named Crabapples. That same year, they won ‘Best Beer Selection in WNY’ from Buffalo Spree. I literally had no idea this place existed. Like many people, I just assumed that Blue Monk was the clear winner and that most of the good beer bars in WNY were found in the city. But Julia definitely knows her beer and I took her word for it. Funny enough, less then a year later we moved to Cheektowaga. One of the first thoughts I had after we moved into our new house was “well, at least I can go to Crabapples now”.
The outside of Crapapples doesn’t scream ‘beer paradise’. Driving down Genesee St., you’re likely to pass it by without a second thought. It really is a true neighborhood dive bar in the heart of Cheektovegas. Inside, they have a couple pool tables in the back (surrounded by library style book shelves), several dart boards and a Beer Pong Arcade Machine. Seriously, they have a Beer Pong Arcade Machine. If you’re getting hungry they have a selection of mini chip bags or cheap slices of pizza from Dinero’s.
Their beer selection is what makes this place different then any other bar in Cheektowaga. Yes, they have a big ice bin of the boring stuff but the taps are reserved for ONLY craft beer, and really good craft beer at that. The selections are arranged by breweries. They have over six different Southern Tier brews on tap, rare Samuel Adams limited releases, over five lambics and rare Belgians that are served from a bad ass dragon (pictured above). They have a menu of everything on tap which is updated regularly and they even have a list of beers that will be coming soon. If you follow their facebook page, you’ll see that they host tap takeovers and offer specials on certain nights.
Owner Pete really seems to go out of his way to find rare Belgians. Some of the beers I’ve tried were rated in the high 90’s on Beer Advocate. These are beers that I haven’t even found at Blue Monk. If you sit at the bar, you’ll see two large apple tap handles (a golden apple and a glowing red apple). Those are Pete’s personal favorites at the moment and are often offered at lower prices. If you find their selection to be overwhelming, you can order a flight of five for the low price of $8.
We’ve visited the bar twice, once a very busy Saturday night and once on a Saturday afternoon when there was less than five people in the bar. On the busy Saturday night, the place was packed with people who seemed like they could care less about craft beer. There were plenty of Fireball shots, Labatt Blue bottles and Long Island Ice Tea’s being served. On a quiet afternoon a few weeks later, my friend Mike and I played some pool, had a nice long conversation with the bartender about what beers were on tap, tried a couple samples and ordered some flights.
Crabapples is quite an interesting bar. True to what Julia said, they really do have one of the best beer selections that I’ve seen locally, served without an ounce of pretension or snobby-ness. I plan on going back regularly, albeit during the off hours when I can really sit down and enjoy myself and their beer selection (late night fireball shots with kids in their early 20’s sadly isn’t my scene). Whatever Crabapples is doing that allows them to get their hands on rare beers offered at great prices, keep it up.
Side Note: If you’d like to see another article about Crabapples with way better pictures, check out Andrew’s post at Buffalo Whiskey Guild.