TH and I attended our first beer festival in NYC. It was held at Pier 36 in a basketball gymnasium space that looked like it was in a middle of a renovation. We attended the first session, which was from 1:30pm to 4:00pm. The turn out was good. It wasn’t crowded.
Admission included a take away glass which was used during the tastings. The glass size was perfect for tasting. Mine was labeled with the goose from Goose Island. I like Goose Island beers.
76 craft beer vendors were represented at the NYC Craft Beer Festival along with online vendors such as yelp, seamless, and DNA info and other beer related information such as Connoisseur Beer Magazine. Food was also available for purchase like pulled pork sandwiches and bratwurst with sauerkraut, chicken fingers, soft pretzels, and empanadas.
Of the 76 craft beers we’ve tasted, we tasted about half, maybe a bit more. Winter style beers were featured in this festival. These included seasonal/winter ales, stouts, porters, and hard ciders. Of the half, we enjoyed the flavors and intrigue of about two dozen, which included brewers we are already fans of like Ommegang, Innis & Gunn, and Angry Orchard as well as new (for us) brewers like Empire Brewing Company, Pennsylvania Brewing Company, and Cricket Hill.
TH and I both agree that Trois Pistoles by Unibroue, an Abbey Style Strong Dark Ale. We enjoyed the sweet malty chocolate flavors and the smooth finish. Not bitter at all. Definitely something we would enjoy on a cold snowy day.
Of the porters we tasted, two stood out. A brewer from Fairfield, New Jersey called Cricket Hill gave us a taste of his amazing Reserve Ale Imperial Porter, which is aged in bourbon casks. It is rich and flavorful. The bourbon definitely comes through in the taste. Smooth. Cricket Hill’s Imperial Porter was a great find and something we will be keeping a look out for.
The other porter that is high on the list is the Smoked Porter by Stone. I did not taste this but TH, who is not a dark ale drinker, raved about this one.
I didn’t find a stout that I truly liked. TH enjoyed the Breakfast Stout by Long Ireland, and again, he’s not much of a drinker of stouts but is learning to appreciate them especially for cold weather drinking.
Tasting ciders in between several dark beer tastings was a nice pick me up. It was a nice way to cleanse the palette as a rep for Angry Orchard explained when we stepped up for a taste of their hard cider. We’ve had Angry Orchard and were happy to see them at the festival. We did learn that they are part of the Samuel Adams company. Angry Orchard is an excellent hard cider – clean, crisp, sweet and apple-y. Stella Artois has a delightful cider called Cidre. It will be available in the states Fall 2013. Can’t wait! Original Sin Hard Cider was also represented at the NYC Craft Beer Fesitval featuring their original and pear hard ciders – both excellent products but their pear cider is the best, IMO. The best hard cider featured at the tasting were McKenzie’s fall seasonal reserve hard apple cider and black cherry cider. We’ve never heard of McKenzie’s and they’re in Rochester, New York. Their black cherry cider is tops in my book!
We tasted a few interesting seasonal beers. Most notably is the Nut Roll Ale from Pennsylvania Brewing Company. There were some wonderful spices that worked well with the ale. I recall tasting some cinnamon. Their St. Nikolaus Bock Bier was also tasty. These would be something if like to get for the winter drinking. I also tasted River Horse’s Belgian Freeze. An excellent winter ale with definite holiday spices.
Ommegang was in attendance. We tasted their harvest ale, Scythe and Sickle. Very enjoyable. Ommegang never disappoints, and I’d definitely like to get a bottle.
One of the breweries we’ve always been curious about is Dodfish Head. They offered two beers to taste. TH raved about Ta Henket so I had a taste and was surprised by how earthy, mellow, and smooth it was. I definitely tasted some toasted barley. Very nice and ideal for winter.
TH and I enjoyed our first beer tasting festival. It wasn’t crowded. We didn’t have to wait long for a taste to be poured. Most people were friendly. Though sales of beers was not permitted, we acquired some souvenirs. We got t-shirts and a poster to show our love for Original Sin Hard Cider. I also got myself another t-shirt.
The venue wasn’t great. The basketball court at Pier 37 looked like it was in a middle of a renovation. The floors were unfinished concrete where there should have been wood flooring. I noticed enough unfinished partitions that it was an eyesore and lessened the overall experience though I do understand that due to Hurricane Sandy and postponing the date that they may have been forced to change venues. It would have been nice if there was seating for general admission. It was not comfortable to be on our feet with rough concrete under our feet. The one critical comment I have was the lack of brewery reps present at the festival. It would have been nice to talk to the reps about the products that were featured at the festival. Most of the people who poured our glasses were volunteers, and had very little knowledge of the beers and the brewery. When I go to tastings, I want to learn about what I’m drinking, which then informs why I like a product.
As I understand it, this is the 3rd NYC Craft Beer Festival, and perhaps the organizers of this event are still establishing their ground? Hopefully with time, and with an increase in attendance, this particular beer event in NYC will offer visitors more beers to taste in a comfortable environment. I definitely want to see the NYC Craft Beer Festival succeed and become a big event that I don’t have to travel for!