Ale House VS. Ruck

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 12.01.36 PMThe age old question. The Ale House. The Ruck. The Aleeeeeeeeeeee House. The Ruccccccck.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life lands you in Troy, eat all the wings.

Did you know we are in the terrible midst of a chicken wing shortage? I thought this was really sad news…..all the poor chickens being born to degenerate mothers with no wings. I have since been told that it is more of a chicken FEED shortage, not an abundance of limbless chickens. I think this must have a correlation to a drought, and maybe the end of the world as we know it. (I do feel fine.)

Anyway. For me, there are only 2 places to eat wings in Troy, the Ale House and The Ruck. I am not alone here. And if you have eaten wings with me, and are currently thinking I don’t get to decide just because I can eat about 6 in 30 minutes, stop reading now. Just because I eat wings like a girl doesn’t mean I cant recognize a good thing right in front of my face. I have earned the right to vote, and chicken wings are no exception. Quality, not quantity. And don’t you ever forget it.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Taste. Taste good. Not just like Franks. And not just like hot.

2) Heat. Your hot needs to be hot enough. Heat without compromising taste.

3) Size/The Meats. Please do not waste my time with tiny iny baby wings.

4) Crisp. In another lifetime, I tended bar at the kind of neighborhood place that might have given you polio. There was no cash register. I did math on my fingers (Math is hard!) and took lots of chicken wing orders. Almost everyone likes their wings crispy. There was this one guy, god rest his soul, who used to ask for them mild and “rare” -  with stretchy snappy skin. After throwing up in my mouth, I had no problem telling him I could not and would not do that for him. I’m a firm believer that a man should be his own man, but also that EVERYONE needs a little help from their friends sometimes, and this was one of those times. Plus, it’s chicken.

5) Beer. Do you have Lagunitas on tap? Because I have to have it.  Major points for a decent selection of boozy crafty beers. I know, this has nothing to do with wings, but as a female, I am turning this into an experience, and details matter. I like a beer with my wings, so let’s make it a good one.

6) Wet nap. You must have wet naps! It’s not like I am cutting my wings with a fork and knife, but I don’t want to to be the bitch walking around with wing sauce on her face either. It’s not a good look.

So based on these qualifications,  the Ale House is my personal favorite. I think their wings are BIG and meaty, crispy, the hot is the right kind of hot, the taste is totally on point, and I like that you can order them in 5′s which is cute for the person who might only want 5 wings. Also, I just really love the Ale House. I love the jukebox and Booie, and even that giant creepy fish on the wall. The Ale House was the first bar I ever drank in when I earned the privilege (it wasn’t a right) to go out after work with all of the grown ups (who in retrospect, were 24.) The next morning was the spoken Russian Olympics at SUNY Albany and I rode a school bus from Shaker high school to go compete in this. I have to think that if things went differently for me that night, I might have taken gold. The things that could have been….

The Ale House also has these crazy hot insanity wings…..this is not the real name. But they did win an award in 2004 and I can honestly tell  you, they are ON FIRE. I recently saw someone take down 6 of them. This was a very enjoyable experience for me based on the fact that I love things I can’t understand. I took my hot wing and cautiously dipped it in some of this dragon fire sauce….just a tiny bit. My eyes cried, my nose started to run, and my water ran dry. I felt my body temperature escalate as did my concern for my fellow wing eater. How was he doing this? Was he going to live? Was he a real human? In any event, it was quite impressive/dangerous/not relaxed.

But the Ruck. The Ruck makes their own blue (blue??) cheese and had THE BEST beer selection this side of the Mississippi. The wings are really good. They are pretty big, they taste good, plentiful wet naps. But I have an issue. The differentiation between medium and hot wings here is very subtle. I am PRETTY sure the only difference is less butter and maybe black pepper. I know that I have heard this among others….but something is not quite right here. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t throw either out of bed, but there is not quite enough escalation between the medium and hot, in my opinion at least. And the hot isn’t very hot.  One time, I saw “honey mustard wings” on the menu and had to try them. Don’t make my mistakes. Just……don’t. Drop them now. Not like they are hot, because they are not. Does the Ruck have a hotter-than-hot option? I suppose I should have looked into this before blogging, but I didn’t. If you know, please share!

In all seriousness, I am not the most experienced or best eater of wings. Both the Ale House and The Ruck hold special space in my heart. But I do know what I like, and am pretty discriminating. If I like these wings, I think you will like them, too. Just have all of them. Do you like wings from anywhere else? I hear the park pub has some pretty great Peanut Butter and Jelly (and other weird) wings They also have a great patio, clams, and fun bands. IS IT SUMMER YET?!!!


  1. CMaxby says:

    I love the Ale House but the Ruck wings have my heart. Also, the Ruck will make them extra hot if you ask.

  2. Brandon says:

    YOU DON”T EVEN KNOW HOW TO EAT WINGS! you could feed a small family with the meat you leave, and you only ever eat 3… Unqualified judgement.
    P.S. ale house

    • Mike says:

      I stopped reading when she said “If blah blah blah… stop reading now.” I assume this entire article isn’t worth the paper its not printed on.

  3. Tyler says:

    Again, speaking as a North Albany representative, I will chime in and recommend Ship’s Pub. They have all kinds of deliciousness for wings. Including some kind of sweet & habanero which is magical.

  4. I haven’t been to Ale House in a while, because I can walk to the Ruck, and that’s been my place since I came to Troy for RPI and it was Sutter’s.

    The medium vs. hot thing at Ruck is very true, but I think the issue is consistency in the “hot” recipe. The mediums are always pretty much medium. Tasty, a bit of a bite to normal people, a good amount of heat for wimps.

    The “hot” order is all over the map. One day they burn you up, one day they taste no hotter than medium. That mix needs to be locked down better, be the same every time.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’m going to have to go for Ale House. I consistently get great wings there. A friend from Arizona once scoffed at the insanity wings then had to stop eating after 5. She was never the same again.

    The Ruck’s wings are good, but not always consistent. There beer selection is great these days, and I love the wing burger!

  6. Welf says:

    Ale House because i can walk to it – which leads me past all sorts of fun people – One time walking back up Ingalls at the corner of Ingalls and 8th at 130am (on a Thursday) 2 lovelies came out of the house with a crusty old man yelling at one of them YOU CANT JUST LEAVE, IM YOUR HUSBAND… FINE GO SMOKE SOME MORE CRACK…

    Everytime i used to walk by the ruck it was dumb college kids.

    Also Ale House has sweet music – Los Straightjackets, Billy Joe Shaver, etc etc

  7. Aaron says:

    It’s The Ruck for me. Best wings, best blue cheese and best draft selection.

    Well that and it’s the only place a young woman has ever opened the conversation by saying “Do you want my cherry?” You know, from her drink.

  8. Oliver says:

    Ale House all the way. Way way better staff plus great events.

  9. PizzzaGod says:

    Gotta go with the Ale. Great wings and best jukebox in North America.

  10. You know who I am says:

    The Ruck when was the last time anyone wanted to eat wings looking at fat ugly barsloths at the Stale House, When was the last time a woman ever walked in the door there. At least you get some type of yeah i’d hit that if I was 20 years younger at the Ruck and the wings are way better. Sorry Ale House have nice time trying to reclaim your title. And Albany….really? what?

  11. TryLeavingTroyOnce says:

    Across the Street Pub in Albany across from U-Alb has some nice, big, crispy, delicious wings but my favorite are still from BL’s in Schenectady. You’d never hear of or find the place without someone telling you, but BL’s has some of the best wings ever.

  12. Pop the old dust mop says:

    You’re a misogynistic asshole.

  13. Duncan says:

    Great article (and the rebuttal too). Kind of a moot point for me because I don’t care for buffalo sauce and prefer flavor to heat, but The Ruck does have Pork Slap at $3 a can to wash down their hot ones. Advantage: Ruck.

  14. You know who I am says:

    *Pop the old dust mop says: You’re a misogynistic asshole.

    I wasnt talking about the women being barsloths because there are never any in there lol. I should have been clear about my statements. Please look up the definition of a sloth, wait here it is.

    Sloths are medium-sized mammals belonging to the families Megalonychidae (two-toed sloth) and Bradypodidae (three-toed sloth), classified into six species.[citation needed] They are part of the order Pilosa and are therefore related to anteaters, which sport a similar set of specialized claws. Extant sloths are arboreal (tree dwelling) residents of the jungles of Central and South America, and are known for being slow-moving, and hence named “sloths”. Extinct sloth species include many ground sloths.
    Sloths make a good habitat for other organisms, and a single sloth may be home to moths, beetles, cockroaches, ciliates, fungi, and algae.

    Kinda makes my statement even better!

  15. Will says:

    As a Buffalonian transplant, actually leaving troy for albany in a few short days.. I enjoyed your assessment of these two crown jewels of Troy. Both of their wings could go toe to toe with some of Buffalo’s finest, they also are staffed by some of the coolest and most down to earth people in the world. Aside from #6, a bit of a girly prerequisite for wings, I like the opinion of the female mind on this age-old discussion, good stuff.

  16. Marge says:


  17. JT says:

    Ruck—Hands down… which reminds me—I’m due for some Ruck wings!

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