Four years after a soft opening on Thanksgiving week, the idea behind Moor Pat hasn’t changed: search endlessly to acquire some of the world's best craft beer, and offer it to the fine, thirsty folks of Western New York. Moor Pat was Williamsville’s first craft beer bar, and it is among the premier destinations for must-have beer in the area.
Connor O'Brien was working behind the hand-laid bar oak - he’s been a member of the Moor Pat family since day one. We shook hands and he popped open a new delivery and offered a sample of Westbrook’s Key Lime Pie gose. It was a perfect sour, and the key limes complemented the style like lock and key.
Looking around, I noticed a few things were different from my last visit. At the kitchen end of the bar sat two giant jars - one with pickles and one with pickled eggs. Gone were the post-it notes bearing messages of peace, love and craft beer, unrequited love for bartenders or patrons, and obligatory "Tony wuz here."
One of the biggest changes was the evolution of the food at Moor Pat. After some staffing issues in the first year, Moor Pat altered the menu to be more bartender-friendly. They added wings (10 for $12) and some unique fryer foods, like Cuban rolls ($8).
The bar also took a more holistic approach to food. The pickles and eggs are house-made, and flavored with hops grown over the Moor Pat veranda in the spring. Occasionally, the bar will offer homemade gumbo. A special while I was there was a deep-fried Cornish game hen served with mock Chalet sauce ($12).
Some things never change, however. Twenty hand-carved tap handles held back a veritable river of some of the finest beers the world has to offer. All styles are represented, and the names on the blackboard are the top brewers of the time. Other Half, Mikkeller, Prairie - all float at the high watermark of craft brewing.
O'Brien poured me my first selection - Florida Cracker from the southern state’s Cigar City brewing. The always fantastic Cigar City recently gained distribution in the area and I took the opportunity to try a style I hadn’t seen from them on the shelves.
While I enjoyed the wit, the barkeep brought out an order of dry-rubbed Cajun wings and the Cuban rolls. Barrel and Brine pickles are wrapped tenderly in ham and Havarti cheese, tucked into a won-ton shell and fried. Partnered with the chipotle mayo and mild spice of the Wit, the rolls were a great appetizer and would have paired with several different styles on Moor Pat’s lengthy menu.
Beer generally varies between $7 and $12, and pours range from 5-ounce samples to full 16-ounce pints.
While I sipped on my second beer, Mikkeller's Pink Petal Pushers, conversation turned from what was new at Moor Pat to the recent winning streak of the Buffalo Sabres.
The television screen mounted in the corner was an afterthought. The NHL Network flashed highlights from the previous day’s action, but barely got a mention from the slim crowd that had filtered in to replace the handful that had left.
The wings were good - just enough spice to need a cooling down from the hibiscus ale - but people come to Moor Pat for great beer and great conversation.
The house-cultivated playlist lays in the background, making it easy to discuss any topic with fellow customers or with a group of friends. Moor Pat is nothing if not a social bar, where even if everyone doesn’t know your name, they’ll learn it fast and use it often in the most welcoming way.
78 East Spring St., Williamsville
Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair-accessible? Yes and very easy to navigate the barroom and facilities.
Parking: Be sure to follow signs in the area. Parking laws are strictly enforced.
Don’t miss: Frequent, incredible opportunities to try beers rarely found in the area. Moor Pat updates these events on its social media.
Don’t forget: You can take it with you. Moor Pat offers growlers of all of its draft beer.
*Read more bar features by clicking on the related Story Topic, below.