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Buffalo native Nick Mendola, contributor at Craft Beer Talk, a radio show/podcast which discusses all things beer, was kind enough to give us some time and share his thoughts on craft beer. Be sure to check out their podcasts, definitely worth the listen.

Can you describe your first craft beer epiphany?
I’m not sure anyone is calling this particular ale “craft beer,” but my love for beer got its kick in the butt the same weekend I found my gateway into following club soccer. Both pursuits have been well worth it. I was spending the Fourth of July in Canada, like any good American. Friends of mine stopped at The Beer Store on the way up to my guitarist’s cottage in Crystal Beach where I was slapped in the face with a question: what beer do you want?

What beer do I want? Ever since I stopped being straight-edge, I hadn’t found anything besides whiskey that didn’t make me want to french kiss a chainsaw. A good friend, Scott, had just gotten me back into playing soccer on a team called — believe this — Haz Benz. So, I grabbed a six of a beer that hearkened to the game: Newcastle Brown Ale. That afternoon, we played beach soccer and got fairly lit-up on this delicious — yes, truly delicious — brown ale. A love affair with the brew and Newcastle United FC had begun.

If you had to pick one beer to showcase craft beer for a novice, which would it be?
If I had to pick a craft beer to showcase for an interested rookie, it’d be Beer 30 Light. On second thought, something less sophisticated: Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis. It’s delicious and tastes just different enough from beer to let people go from toeing the waters of craft to letting their packages breach the water of banana-laden cloveness. Then, you’re off and swimming!

Any styles you are not a fan of?
Beer ain’t all awesome, I’m afraid: I’m still cooked on IPAs; totally burnt out on their hops and sting and I’m not ready for them on “Craft Beer Talk’s” Spring episodes. I can dig Double and Imperial IPAs because of the junk-kicking they give you, but that’s a stretch.

What are you thoughts on the continued growth in the craft beer industry?
I’m going to catch heat for this, but the actual growth and whatnot of craft beer doesn’t play a big role in my life. To be fair, I’ve been this way with rock bands, too. I’m protective of the beer I love. I want to be the guy who introduces it to people, but I know brewers now; Brewers will always make good beer and I’ll be able to track down that style even if the brewery doesn’t take off. I want all good brewers to succeed and I know they will. Mostly, I just want Community Beer Works — and other Buffalo joints — to succeed.

Favorite spot to grab a pint in Buffalo?
There’s no question Blue Monk is Buffalo’s beer spot, so I’ll pick another: Ulrich’s. Potato pancakes, rye bread, sauerkraut, beer and good banter with the tenders, waitresses and friendos. If you’re burying me, see if we can’t Irish Wake it there (or we can fake it, McNulty-style).

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