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Deez Newz

6 Jun

1. Chris Collins: businessman, hobbyist politician, ECGOP sugardaddy, scofflaw. 

As a reminder, Collins’ light blue / silverish, appropriately named Buick Enclave with the distinctive “CE-3” license plate (CE for “County Executive” – a post he no longer holds, but a license plate he retains) was seen during the 2011 election season, 

parking in a handicapped spot in Akron, NY

better angles of him parking in that Akron spot

parking illegally outside of Ulrich’s

Farmington is a town in northern Ontario County, near Victor.  It appears that Collins believes inconsiderate or illegal parking is a right he inherited by entail, since he parked like this at an event that recently took place there:



It doesn’t appear to be an illegal spot, per se, but Collins did park directly in front of the door – the better to duck in and out of the event without being accosted by the 99 percent. 

2. Former Ranzenhofer staffer Michelle McCullough, who was terminated because she dared to support David Bellavia over Chris Collins in NY-27, filed a formal ethics complaint, and its text makes for great reading about how political patronage appointees are routinely expected to perform the dirty, tedious political work their masters demand – regardless of its legality. 

Ranzenhofer Complaint

The ethics complaint led the Erie County Democrats to take a shot at Collins, 

“Chris Collins needs to be honest with the public about his role in the firing of an employee in Republican Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s office who supported his opponent, David Bellavia.  These reports raise serious questions about whether this type of intimidation is how Collins intends to solicit support for his campaign.

“The employee, Michelle McCulloch, filed a complaint with the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics yesterday contending she was fired for circulating petitions for David Bellavia, who is opposing Chris Collins for the Republican nomination for Congress in the new 27th District. Ranzenhofer, who supports Collins, has been silent about why Ms. McCulloch was terminated. 

“The public deserves to know if Collins played a direct role with Ranzenhofer in costing this public servant her job. The time has come for both Collins and Ranzenhofer to come clean and explain why an otherwise good employee was suddenly let go after she circulated petitions for Collins’ opponent.”

3. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will remain in office, as the effort to recall him failed last night.  In fact, Walker’s win was apparently by a wider margin than the one that originally brought him to office.

Never underestimate the ease with which politicians can demonize unionized workers and take away their rights – especially public sector workers. While no one in any society wants to just give public workers a key to the public vault, taking away, e.g., teachers’ right to collectively bargain with the state for their pay and benefits is only the clumsiest and most antagonistic way to treat a group of people who are charged with educating the next generation of Americans.

Never underestimate the power of the right wing. Never underestimate the power of their money and the ease with which they and their benefactors can influence public opinion and elections in contemporary America. The contemporary Republican/conservative movement derives its power from denigrating hard-working people and taking away rights they had earned over a century. It is, at its heart, an assault on the American Dream, and self-identified patriotic people are just eating it up. 

4. Regionalism advocate Kevin Gaughan announced yesterday that he’s running for state Assembly in the newly constructed A-149, comprising much of Buffalo, Lackawanna, and Hamburg. He wrote: 

I believe that no citizen should run for office unless they have an innovative proposal or specific purpose. Based on lessons I’ve learned working to reduce government size and cost, I have several. Each one of them is in service of a simple idea: Western New Yorkers deserve the most effective and least expensive government possible.

And this new civil right – the right to a government that lifts rather than burdens us – I believe is within our grasp. For over a decade, I’ve been engaged in government reform. I founded a number of conferences, in which we learned the crushing costs of our nation-leading concentration of governments and politicians.

Employing those lessons, and with the assistance of thousands of volunteers, we caused public votes to let people decide whether to reduce their local government. As a result, voters adopted downsizing plans in 3 county, 6 town, and 1 village governments, eliminating 26 elected positions and saving local taxpayers $5.2 million per year.

Now, I want to do in Albany what we have done here at home: reduce the state legislature’s size, lower its costs to taxpayers, and with a little luck and much work, perhaps even return a sense of humility to the idea of government service. To accomplish these goals, our campaign will sketch a landscape of ideas, all seeking to end Western New York’s 35-year path of chronic economic decline, exit of youth, loss of companies, destruction of neighborhoods, and demise of hope. Every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to restoring our community.

5. Have a great day, western New York! Stay positive!

The Daily Five – Top 5 Good News Stories in Buffalo 2011

9 Dec

As a blogger, my tendency is to criticize and write about issues I feel need to be addressed or things that need to be improved. Rarely do I take the opportunity to write about the positive news and events that happen in Buffalo and WNY each and every day. Maybe I need to shake it up a bit, eh?

However, there is one talented writer who spends all of his energy documenting why this region is an awesome place to live, work, and play. His name is Seamus Gallivan and he is the editor of a fantastic website called The Good Neighborhood.

His website is a daily read for me and I encourage you to add it to your daily media diet as well, maybe even add his site on Facebook.  Gallivan’s mission for “the good hood”?

The Good Neighborhood is all about community, and we want everyone to participate –

  • Read and comment on the stories!
  • Submit ideas and original work in the spirit of Gathering for the Greater Good!
  • Advertise your business through spots and sponsored content!
  • Spread the good word about The Good Hood!

So when it came time to write up the top five good news stories of the year? Well, Seamus was the first guy I thought could give this story angle the love it needed. Primarily because he’s the happiest guy I know and he and his website can put a big time hop in your step.

Waterfront Activity, Finally

As the battling and bickering wages over what we could have, should have, and have to be doing to earn our city a waterfront worth talkin’ proud about, major movement was made this summer to bring a critical mass of people to Canalside – it’s finally becoming an actual destination, thanks in great part to public input.

A flurry of free programming, from small-scale concerts with historical context to the Explore and More Children’s Museum and Tifft Nature Preserve presentations, was met with festivals such as Pride and the Great Lakes Experience and the ballyhooed move of Thursday at the Square, all of which got a lot of people poking around the water far more often than before. Naysayers whined over $46 tickets to see the Tragically Hip there, only to see it sell out without worry and become the event of the summer.

Buffalo Riverfest aka Peg’s Park opened just down the Buffalo River past the Edward M. Cotter; On the Water Productions held events such as the Outer Harbor Fest at the Seaway Piers; the Queen City Water Ferry is open and hopin’ to have more places to take people; and the Buffalo Main Lighthouse is finally accessible again to the public – we have a long way to go and there’s a lot of public money flying around, so may the watchdogs keep sniffing, and whiners keep sniffling, and the powers-that-be keep listening.

Buffalo Green Code Changing our Landscape

I’ll admit that until this year, I didn’t know nor care much about zoning codes. But part of caring about Buffalo and atoning for our past mistakes is fixing our way-outdated and misguided codes, and the city’s Office of Strategic Planning has made the planning process for the historic Buffalo Green Code educational and engaging enough for ignorant schmucks like me to learn and participate to the point of coming away fired up about the public’s role in shaping our city as a national leader in 21st century land use.

They’ve pounded the pavement to get public input, from nine neighborhood meetings earlier in the year, to meeting with community action organizations and last month revealing the results of our feedback and how they plan on moving ahead – if you care at all about reshaping neighborhoods, reusing abandoned land, removing horribly-placed highways, and redefining Buffalo, get hip to the Buffalo Green Code, and get involved while it’s still in development.

Amherst Street Emerges

When I moved back to Buffalo in late 2009 and set out to launch The Good Neighborhood, the first person I sought for support was Sportsmens Tavern owner Dwane Hall. Hall has taken an unassuming hole in the wall in Black Rock and made it first a formidable music venue free of riff-raff, and since a favorite destination for touring musicians who draw fans from hundreds of miles away. In a neighborhood belittled as rundown and unsafe, the 28-year family-run “Honkiest, Tonkiest Beer Joint in Town” is undergoing a six-figure expansion and has never been robbed.

“I think they think I’m cool because of the music,” Hall says of the neighborhood ne’er-do-wells…sure, that and the fact that the Stone Country stalwart and Marine Corps vet can’t feel some of his knuckles from putting their predecessors in their place.

The Sportsmens, as reigning Grant-Amherst Association Business of the Year, is an anchor in an emerging Amherst Street scene that has welcomed new tenants this year from taverns Rohall’s Corner and Black Rock Kitchen & Bar to buzz-builders such as Delish Cooking School & Pastry Shop and an expanded arts presence around Artsphere and 464 Gallery.

In the City of No Illusions, Amherst Street is real, receiving, and rising.

The Sabres Assert Themselves as Top Dogs

First off, owners don’t win championships – players do, and the Buffalo Sabres are not currently playing like champions. But new owner Terry Pegula is putting pressure on the players by putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to winning, investing on and off the ice to assert the franchise as an industry leader, including a red carpet for one of the Sabres’ greatest assets – its alumni.

In The Good Neighborhood, we leave the reporting of game scores and stats to other publications – our interest is in what the team and players are doing in the community, and there is no better story from this past year than the rapid rise of the Miracle League of Western New York and Sabres’ role in it.

The Miracle League is a baseball league for special needs kids with a motto of “Every Child Deserves a Chance to Play Baseball,” enabled by a custom rubberized playing surface that literally levels the playing field to alleviate mobility issues. Building a field is expensive, and of the three communities in which I’ve been involved with the emergence of the Miracle League, Western New York got the field built the fastest. With an incredibly united front on Grand Island that got the land in Veterans Park and the crew to build it, The Buffalo Sabres Alumni and Sabres Foundation stepped in with a pledge of $150,000, enabling the field to open in August – from conception to fruition in half the time it takes most communities.

One might ask what our hockey team is doing funding baseball leagues, and the answer is simple – the Buffalo Sabres care about more than hockey; they care about Western New York.

“This field in the best way encapsulates for me and my teammates what we love about Buffalo,” Sabres Alumni President Larry Playfair told me on the day the field opened. “People ask us, ‘Why stay in Buffalo when you can go anywhere?’ This is why.

“…Folks throughout Western New York who bought those raffle tickets [at Sabres and World Juniors games] chipped into this, and that feels good,” Playfair added. “The contractors, bricklayers, cement pourers – the people who built this field come from both Erie and Niagara counties. This is a Western New York effort.”

You and Who is Born

I first met You and Who Founder and President Dan Gigante in early 2010 at a New Era bubble hockey tournament. After I explained my goals with The Good Neighborhood, he said he was the guy at local internet solutions firm Clevermethod who handles all their community initiatives, arguably spending too much time on them. A few months later, he orchestrated a buyout from the company he co-founded in order to launch You and Who, an apparel company that for every purchase donates matching items or meals to organizations that help neighbors in need, inspired by “buy one, give one” models such as Tom’s Shoes. You and Who’s main product so far is t-shirts, most designed by artists and others bearing messages such as, “Two People are Wearing This Shirt.”

In addition to working with Western New York artists, organizations such as Compass House and Buffalo City Mission, and outlets from Thursday at the Square to his display today at the Walden Galleria, Gigante launched You and Who in a handful of cities around the country, and this fall trekked to 30 cities in 90 days to forge new partnerships. For example, if you purchase a shirt designed by an artist in Austin, the artist will receive a commission and the extra shirt will be donated to a local cause such as ARCH – Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.

Follow Gigante and You and Who in The Good Neighborhood with his weekly “You and Who’sday” report every Tuesday.

The Daily Five – John Lennon Songs

8 Dec

On the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, I thought the best use of this space would be a listing of my favorite John Lennon songs. Not just his solo work, but the songs he wrote as part of The Beatles. A list like this is highly subjective, but these are my picks. Feel free to post your own list in comments.

5. Norwegian Wood – My favorite Lennon/McCartney song

4. Strawberry Fields Forever

3. Happiness Is A Warm Gun

2. Working Class Hero

1. Imagine

The Daily Five – Top Dive Bars In Buffalo

7 Dec

Neighborhood bars, pubs, and taverns are part of the connective tissue in any great city. They serve as the “third place” between home and the workplace and grease the wheels of a cooperative society. In Buffalo, our bars and taverns have become “public characters” as they are part of the city itself, as familiar and necessary as the people who patronize them.

I’m a person who believes that many of society’s problems can be solved while bending an elbow over an oak bar, so I asked Josh Potter, a fellow connoisseur of bars and taverns, to give us a list of his favorites.

Josh Potter is a Comedian and Radio Personality from Buffalo, NY.  He has performed with likes of Nick DiPaolo, Jim Florentine and Ari Shaffir and at a variety of clubs and colleges. You can hear Josh on the “SHREDD & RAGAN” Show every afternoon from 3pm – 7pm on 103.3 The Edge and playing tunes through the night from 7pm till Midnight. Follow Josh on Twitter to keep up with performances and general ridiculousness @J_Potter.

Up until 5 months ago, I lived in Buffalo my entire life. Elmwood Village and Allentown became my home, and it is where my heart remains to this day. The reason I say “up until 5 months ago” is because toward the end of the summer I accepted a job to work in radio in Cleveland, Ohio. It was somewhat lonely, and I missed our City of Buffalo in a way I never thought I would. Upon getting an offer to come back to 103.3 The Edge and The Shredd and Ragan Show, I jumped on it. Another opportunity to do what I love, in the city I love, at a higher level? Yes, please…

Now that I’m back in Buffalo, I’m realizing how much I really missed my old friends, and more importantly, my old haunts. With that, I give you my humble (and dare I say, well versed) opinion as to some of the best “Dive Bars” in Buffalo and WNY.

While mulling over the criteria as to what some consider a “Dive Bar,” I realized that everyone has a different idea of “Dive.” One fellow even mentioned to me that it “can’t be a dive bar unless you’re scared to walk in.” I don’t know that I’m that extreme, so I will mention that I am basing this list off of aesthetics and the fact that I have had some of the greatest times of my life in these places.

5) The Ellicott Manor: 16 Ellicott Place in Depew, NY

The Ellicott Manor is the quintessential “Blues” Dive bar. Not only can you find a great, local Blues act playing on any given night of the week; but they also have one of the most unique open mic experiences in the WNY area. The Ellicott Manor Blues Jam happens on the first Saturday of every month and runs from 2pm-5pm. The host band, “Five Shades Of Blue” provides the backing and allow musicians of all instruments to hop on stage and take a feature run, jamming with the band. You can hear musicians of all types ripping it up on stage, from Sax players, to guys on the mouth harp, and of course guitar players a plenty. It’s a great show to see people try and play on stage for the first time, at the same time having some fantastic musicians scorch the stage.

The beer selection could please anyone at The Ellicott Manor, and I highly suggest their Fried Bologna Sandwich, you won’t be able to resist it as the smell will infiltrate your nose the second you walk through the door.

4) Essex Street Pub: 6 Essex Street in Buffalo, NY

The Essex Street Pub may be the closest thing Buffalo has to The Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars. Not that some intergalactic gangster is going to rough you up, but you can never go to Essex without meeting a colorful character who may or may not have a sordid past to share over some very affordable pints of Rusty Chain. I always see or meet someone interesting at Essex Street.

Mackey (the owner) has reached out quite a bit to the biker community, but not the bikers you would think. I’m talking about CYCLISTS. He holds many benefits for the cyclist community and acts as a meeting place for many of them who take part in the Sunday night runs during the summer. Essex Street also has THE best non-internet connected jukebox in Buffalo. It’s easily the purest jukebox left in town (that I know of.)

3) Kelly’s Korner: 2526 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, NY

I’ve been to Kelly’s Korner dozens of times, yet every time I go in I feel like the “new guy,” which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. It’s just that it always seems as though everyone who is in there has been there drinking for days on end. Always full of eccentric regulars, it’s another one of those places where you can’t leave without over hearing some hilarious story, or having some words of wisdom accidentally bestowed upon you. I once met an old blind man there, who introduced me to art of keeping your beer really cold, by putting ice in a plastic baggy before putting it in your beer. This is stuff you can’t learn at home with mother. (If you can, you have an awesome mother.) Kelly’s Korner also has THE best wings in Buffalo (again, my opinion, but I challenge you to not agree. Extremely underrated.)

2) Nietzsche’s: 248 Allen Street in Buffalo, NY

Nietzsche’s holds an unbelievably special place in my heart. Not only is it a great dive bar, but it has a heritage as one of the best music venues in Buffalo, NY. Their stage has seen some of the most exciting and eccentric acts the city has to offer play into the wee hours of the morning. Often times you can stumble in on an off night and catch a musician who is passing through town playing on stage.

Keeping true to its name, Nietzsche’s breeds other forms of art as well, including the best night of comedy the city has to offer. Every Tuesday, Kristen Becker holds the “Doin’ Time Comedy Showcase” at 8pm, (which I have been known to perform on from time to time.) It showcases amateurs as well as pros, generating plenty of laughs…whether they are intentional or not is another story.

1. The Old Pink: 223 Allen Street in Buffalo, NY

The Old Pink is my favorite bar, hands down.

So many stories that I’ll never forget, and so many stories I’ll never remember. It was the first bar I ever went to, and I fell in love from the start. The funny thing about The Old Pink is its actually called “The Allen Street Bar & Grill,” yet I’ve never met a soul who calls it that. I’d imagine if you refer to it as “The Allen Street Bar & Grill,” you’ve never actually been there. Also, if you’ve only gone prior to 1AM, you have also never REALLY been there. Everyone knows the Pink doesn’t start cranking up till after one in the morning, though I challenge you try and figure out the time of day while being in the ever-dark structure. I’ve gone in during the day, and when busy enough, you would think it was 3am, putting you into an alternate universe of booze and debauchery.

I think everyone has a make out session story they forgot, regretted, or revered from the Old Pink, if you haven’t; you need to start living my friend. Like The Jersey Shore, I too have a rule, “never fall in love at The Pink.” This is because, most likely, the girl you found enchanting enough to make out with will probably is jamming her tongue down a different guy’s throat over by the old-timey bowling video game before the night is through. Last call is a unique experience at The Pink. It’s both interesting and terrifying to have the lights come on and see what ne’er do wells you’ve been chilling with the last few hours. The Old Pink’s Steak Sandwich is another “must have” for any Buffalonian. Go get one right now.

I hope you accept these unique establishments as merely my favorites from over the years of experience of alcohol consumption and the quest for a good time. If you haven’t been to one or any of these, I suggest going, and maybe we’ll run into each other along the way. Cheers!

– JP

The Daily Five – Things To Like About NHL Realignment

6 Dec

When the news broke yesterday that the NHL had committed to a realignment package, I immediately thought to ask my good friend and sports guru, Brad Riter to tell me what I should like about it.

Brad is currently the public address announcer for UB Basketball games. Prior to that, Brad was Sports Director and Program Director at WECK 1230AM where he worked UB Bulls football games and discussed sports with a stellar gallery of guests each day. Prior to his tenure at WECK, Brad hosted the Sabres post-game show at WGR 550AM as well as his own nightly talk show. His resume is much more extensive than that, but trust me, he knows a thing or two about sports.

Take it away, Brad.

Brad Riter

Five Things To Like About NHL Realignment:

My first contribution to “The Daily Five” revolves around the announcement of a surprisingly radical realignment plan by the NHL Board of Governors.  The whole thing kicks in next season.

Dating back to the NFL’s realignment of 2002, I’ve made a case to anyone willing to listen that a league consisting of four eight-team divisions makes far more sense than one made up of eight four-team divisions.   So with this move, we get the “super divisions” that I’ve been calling for…only they’re called “conferences.”  And it’s 10 years late.  And it’s in a different sport.

1. Current rivalries remain intact.  Assuming you’re a Sabres fan, nothing that you’re REALLY used to is going away.  A ton of games against Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto await.  Bonus:  for fans who like to map a vacation around the team’s travel plans, now you’ve got extra visits to the Panthers and Lightning to utilize (at least until Number 2 on my list goes into effect.)  Oh, and every team visits every city every year.  Cool.

2. Potential for back to back games (or even a 3 game series) in one city.  If simplification of travel is truly at the heart of this plan, wouldn’t it make sense to occasionally (or ultimately, after a transitional phase, always) play the entire slate of games between two teams in one trip?  Do the Oilers really need to make the 1367 mile flight from Edmonton to Los Angeles three separate times throughout the season and vice versa?  One trip to play three games over the course of five nights makes more sense, adds playoff-like intensity, and allows familiarity to breed contempt.

Palpable Contempt

3. “Conference” (formerly “division”) now means something so the regular season means more…   or something…  I think…  right?  I’ll admit I can’t completely get my head around this yet but it certainly feels as though moving into an era where you always need to battle one of your closest rivals to make it past round one of the playoffs is a good thing.  With round two playoff rules yet to be announced, this may wind up being irrelevant but, for now, I’m happy to watch a league in which you’ve got to make it out of your division conference before you get to take on the rest of the league.  Note:  We’re all going to need some time to adjust to the language of this whole thing.  As fans of professional sports in North America, we’re conditioned to think of the term “conference” as a synonym for “half the league” and that doesn’t go away just because Commissioner Gary Bettman has an idea.

4. Possible (likely?) return of historic “conference” names.  When “Adams Division” is replaced by “Northeast Division,” a Canadian angel loses its wings, crashes to Earth and dies.  Even perpetually out-of-touch Bettman has to be aware of society’s obsession with nostalgia.  Here’s a chance to return the Smythes and Norrises of the world to their rightful place in the daily NHL conversation.  It’s also an opportunity to put a new spin on it, honoring more recent legends like Gretzky and Orr.  If it’s Bettman alone making the decision, don’t rule out names like “Conference One” but my fingers are crossed that the Board of Governors and logic will prevail.

5. If you don’t like it, don’t worry…  it won’t last.  The NHL has spent the past 30+ years searching for a magical formula.   While this is the first adjustment since 1998, the league’s track record gives us no indication that we should think of what we’re getting now as permanent.

The Daily Five – Holiday Beers

5 Dec

I’d like to introduce a new AV Daily blog feature, “The Daily Five”.

Each day around noon, I’ll introduce a “Top 5” list from a local community subject matter expert for you to read, share, and discuss. We dabbled with it last week, but settled on a format which allows us to bring new and different voices to the blog each day.

Today is the 78th anniversary of the passage of the 21st amendment (aka Prohibition Repeal Day), and I couldn’t think of a better way to start this new feature than with a discussion about beer. As holiday party season kicks off, I thought we should help you appear distinguished and cultured by having one or several classic holiday beers available for your guests.

So, in order to make this list, I went to two of the leading beer experts in Buffalo, Ethan Cox (certified cicerone) and Rudy Watkins (Brewmaster) of the fledgling Community Beer Works Brewery on Lafayette Street in Buffalo.

When CBW’s president Ethan Cox and head brewer Bob “Rudy” Watkins get together to think about holiday beers, they don’t produce your typical list of spiced-up, thin-bodied, 4.5% “winter warmers” from krapht breweries like the staff writers at Maxim do; oh, hell no.

They think about blankets of snow, feet-up by the fireside, and late-night, contemplative beers. These aren’t the party beers- these are the after-party beers.

1. Quelque Chose | Unibroue | Montreal, Canada | 8% ABV | Blended, spiced ale

The name is French for “Something” and it’s true, this beer is something… else. First, it’s a blend of two beers: their own spiced brown ale, bringing clove and cinnamon to the party, and a cherry lambic, or kriek, for dark fruit complexity and a hint of sour tang. Better than that, it is a beer they intend to be served warm. Though it is delicious at the standard cellar temperature range as well, we like it best out of a crock-pot. Throw in some dried cherries and a cinnamon stick for extra cheer.

2. Old Foghorn | Anchor Brewing Co. | San Francisco, California | 8-10% ABV (varies) | Barleywine style ale

Anchor is in many ways the ground zero of American craft brewing, alongside Sierra Nevada. From reviving classic Steam Beer to inventing American IPA in Liberty Ale, and producing the first seasonal, holiday beer–which is not the one making this list, as it happens–they’ve been consummate craft pioneers. They also make Old Foghorn, the first American barleywine of this new era of craft brewing since 1975. This beer varies bit from year to year, and also ages quite well. But, it is always a chewy, malty-rich but still quite hoppy delight.

3. Aventinus | G. Schneider & Sohn | Kelheim, Germany | 8.2% ABV | Weizenbock

It’s easy to imagine that a weizenbock might be like a bock, but with wheat- and you’d be, well, sorta wrong about that. Sure, it’s got wheat in it, and in fact it’s really more another kind of weissbier or wheat ale than a bock–one of many types of lager–at all. However, as a dunkle or dark-weizen brewed to dopplebock strength, it somehow acquired that reference in the name. Like other German weizen beers, there’s a load of clove and banana in the nose in this deep mahogany brew topped with a thick, light tan head. The sip reveals those aromas as flavors joined with caramel, raisin, licorice & faint vanilla notes in a creamy, full-bodied beer.

4. St. Bernadus Christmas | Brouwerij St. Bernadus | Watou, Belgium | 10% ABV | Belgian Strong Dark, spiced

Clearly, we didn’t think “nothing with spices,” we just wanted them done right: orange peel and nutmeg melding perfectly with big malt-fruit flavors and deep Belgian abbey yeast complexity, all contained in a heady, unctuous liquid: this is a real “winter warmer,” though certainly not of the English type. Though technically not a Trappist beer, as it does not come from an actual monastery, the happy monk on the label has all kinds of reasons to smile when drinking this divine seasonal offering.

5. Black Chocolate Stout | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, NY |  10% ABV | Imperial Stout

This beer is justly famous as the beer that got Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn’s esteemed brewmaster, hired in 1994.  Pour this one into a snifter at 55 degrees, or “castle temperature,” grab a book and a seat by the fireside.  You’ll catch a whiff of the alcohol in the nose, alsongside a whole lot of roasted barley all coming off the deep tan head atop the beer.

These beers are available at your neighborhood good beer store, like Premier and/or Consumers or other outlets of similar ilk. Pick up a few and celebrate the holidays in style.

Embeer Buffalo!