During the weekend of February 24, 2017, myself and a fellow beer connoisseur received two press passes from the NYC Brewers Guild to attend the Opening Bash Invitational at the Brooklyn Expo Center which serves as the kick-off to NYC Beer Week. This is The Guild’s Eighth Annual New York City Beer week.
The NYC Brewers Guild is a 501[c]6 non-profit founded to promote NY State made brew…
“The mission of the New York City Brewers Guild is to advocate for and promote awareness of its local brewing members; to increase the visibility of local beers through innovative events, programming, and consumer education; and to foster a healthy, ethical, and growth-focused craft beer industry throughout the city.”
The Opening Bash Invitational started at 6:30 and lasted till about 9:30 p.m. The location was easily accessible and enticing due to the Expo Center’s architecture. While waiting to get in, you were able to see where all the various breweries were located, as well as the games and food.
Participating breweries included: Big Alice Brewing Company, Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, Burial, Capt Lawrence Brewing Co, Chelsea Craft Brewing, Civil Society Brewing, Community Beer Works, Coney Island Brewery, Destination Unkown Beer Company, Finback Brewery, Folksbier, Great South Bay, Greenpoint Harbor Brewing, Gun Hill Brewing Company, Harlem Brewing, Hudson Valley Brewery, Indian Ladder, Industrial Arts Brewing Company, Interboro Spirits and Ales, Ithaca Beer Co, J Wakefield, KelSo Beer Company, Kings County Brewers Collective, LIC, Lineup, Magnify, Marz Community, New Carnegie Brewery, Oxbow, Proclamation Ale Company, Rar Brewing, Rockaway Brewing Co, Rushing Duck, Sand City Brewery Co, Staten Island Beer, Sixpoint, Sloop, Sole, Strong Rope Brewery, Suarez, Family Brewery, The Bronx Brewery, The Flagship Brewing Copmany, Threes, Transmitter Brewing and Wartega.
Needless to say, there were quite a few breweries! Here is some information about some of my favorites of the night…
Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery
Indian Ladder Farmstead is “dedicated to the farm to table movement, or in this case–farm to glass”. They recently celebrated their centennial in 2016. The company is run by the fourth generation of the Ten Eyck Family (call me old-fashioned, but I have a lot of respect for family-run businesses, especially in this day and age). This cidery/brewery which originally started as a dairy farm that raised beef cattle is now well known for their fruit, especially their apples which led to their delicious DRY refreshing cider that I adored tasting…
Dry Hard Cider
Made from freshly pressed, gluten-free New York State apples. Available in 4-packs.
- ABV: 6.1%
- Taste: This isn’t your average cider. It hits the tongue (and nostrils) with a distinguishable fresh aroma of bittersweet apples. Not too bitter and not too sweet, this cider is sure to bring attention to itself with a dry delicious after-taste. I HIGHLY recommend trying it out for yourself.
Super Local Pale Ale
Made in collaboration with Interboro Ales & Spirits using 100% single farm hops & grains from their farm. The hops include Nugget, Brewers Gold, and Cascade, while the grains includes 2-row Synergy and Navarro Oats, both malted at Hudson Valley Malt.
- ABV: 6%
- Taste: Tangy with a clear bitter finish. Stands out as an IPA with it’s malty smooth mouthfeel.
Coney Island Brewery
I am now a “Boardwalker,” aka a fan of the brewery. This table was a big hit at the event. The historic location of the brewery helped to make this beer well known among the beer crowd. They currently have limited releases of their speciality styles including SuperFreak, Kettle Corn Cream Ale and Cotton Candy Kolsch. Ths brewery definitely brought a sense of surprise and creativity to the table.
Honey New York Stout
- ABV: 8%
- Taste: Full-bodied smooth sweet molasses flavor with notes of caramel, citrus and honey blended in.
A sour ale brewed with malt and hops.
- ABV: 4.8%
- Taste: Sour grapefruit and vanilla flavors. Made exclusively for NYC Craft Beer Week 2017. The name resembles the beer; once you try it you can’t stop smiling!
Third Rail Brewery
Wins for bringing the most original flavored Stout of the night. Not only were the brewers nice people, but their beer was EXCELLENT. Both my accomplice and I couldn’t get over the smooth delicious original taste it left us with. I’m already looking forward to visiting this brewery in-person.
Alternate Side Stout (Limited – 2016)
- ABV: 10.5%
- Taste: Full-bodied stout, containing dark malts and flavors of spice, caramel and coffee. The after-taste is filled with spicy peppers, Mexican cinnamon and a smooth smoke. I miss this beer! R.F., my tasting partner said, “I liked it a lot. It was very robust. It was like the inside of a wood burning stove”. I find it interesting that R.F. knew what the inside of a wood-burning stove looked and tasted like. What an interesting Dude!
A New York favorite and also among the most popular at the Fest.
Limited edition, 100% Brett-Fermented Porter aged 9 months in French Oak red wine barrels.
- ABV: 10.5%
- Taste: A surprising air of class at first smell. A mix of earthy aromas, vanilla, pineapple fruit and a smooth finish. This Porter is sure to brings a happy vibe to anybody’s night. Fun fact: this Porter was made with Champagne yeast made in their lab.
Regarded as the first operating micro-brewery in Queens since Prohibition. Going towards a more “hip” vibe. The owner and music obsessed brewer Rich Buceta states:
My obsession is creating original hop-driven beer; distinguished by a firm respect and admiration for West Coast pioneers, and bending that to our East Coast / NYC interpretation.
Their mission statement: Mastery Knows No Shortcut. Well said!
Weird & Gilly
“Cats from Japan line up for this..”
- ABV: 6.6%
- Taste: IPA with citrus fruit notes and pine resin which equaled out to a refreshing strong bitter taste. Unique in its own right.
Singlecut Brewery’s Czech/German Flagship Lager
- ABV: 5.4%
- Taste: “Classic, Crisp, Horizontal.” Pilsner with light lemon notes and a hint of spice.
Staten Island Beer Company
Another New York favorite. The Brewmaster of this is Jonathan Schulman who started out brewing in his basement at home in Staten Island: “I have that dream that all home brewers dream — of having all their beer.” From hobby-to-passion, Schulman’s “Staten Island Brewery” represents the American Beer Dream. His company proudly produces beer that is both straightforward and flavorful.
For Wheat’s Sake
- ABV: 4.9%
- Taste: Pour is smooth with a light golden body. Contains American grain, Warrior, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops, but the wheat tends to over pour the beer in a bitter (not so sweet) sense. In conclusion, if you like light bitter wheat-tasting beverages this is the beer for you!
Won for having the friendliest staff. Their smiles and welcoming demeanor immediately drew me in. I could tell this Brewery was full of passionate people that enjoy the simplicity of good company spent over a pint of beer.
This popular beer is available year round and has a 2-row pale, honey malt containing five hops including Simcoe, Chinook, Citra, Ahtanum, and Centennial. This award winning beer has made it to the National IPA Championship Final Four in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
- ABV: 7.5%
- Taste: Notes of clover honey, grapefruit and pineapple with a bold soothing full body. If beer was a meal – this could fill you. It’s their most popular and well-known product they have in-stock for a reason. Fun fact: the fermentation process is hopped and dry-hopped five different times when it is being made. Its creation is as unique as the flavors in the beer itself. Definitely the type of beer you sip throughout the night.
This beer was named after an episode of the “Twilight Zone” where they reference a painting of one of Ithaca’s waterfalls. Rod Serling, the creator of The Twilight Zone (it’s my favorite television show of all time!), called the episode “The Midnight Sun” that is about the Earth falling out of orbit and two women coping with the increasingly oppressive heat in a nearly abandoned city. If only they had Ithaca’s Midnight Sun beer replenish them!
- ABV: 5.5%
- Taste: A new dark lager that contains an incredibly smooth finish. Similar to a German hoppy beer with aromas of chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee and a bit of spice.
BIG aLICE BREWING
They pride themselves on producing small batches of craft beer, each specially made with a creative experimental mindset. They are also a New York State Farm Brewery with each ingredient coming from locally grown farms.
Biggie Smash Beer Barley Wave
- ABV: 12%
- Taste: Contained a malt complexity with very rich and sharp barley notes. It’s heavy and thick in its finish. The alcohol content is strong, so be sure to take your time sipping this one.
Sweet Potato Farmhouse
- ABV: 6.3%
- Taste: Very sweet when it hits the tongue. Unique in it’s presentation and ingredients. Soft aroma of sweet potato with no traces of anything else. Good beer if you’re looking to try something different.
An all-grain naturally gluten-free brewery. They’re all fans of fermentation at Askew, whether it be pickles, kimchi, kombucha, or beer; the process and products of fermentation are things they feel a strong connection to. Askew Brewing consists of five friends and relatives from the NY/NJ area. Headed by their Brew Master, Travis Mullen, they continue to expand their array of tasty brews as beer drinkers continue to expand their palates…
It’s simple really, we brew what we like to drink. While beer is the passion, the overall vision is much larger. As we continue to pump out delicious concoctions, we are building the plan to move our operation to the Hudson Valley and open our Brewery on a Farm, alongside a CSA and community art-space. We hope our beer will help build and strengthen the community.
Very cool group here!
- ABV: 8.9%
- Taste: Their dank and sticky DIPA. Brewed with a balanced malt bill of barley, oats, and wheat and a copious amount of post-boil additions including Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo hops. The result is both fruity and creamy.
In addition to all of that mouth-wateringly delicious Craft Beer, there was also some food that caught my tongue…
At the event we walked by this stand with brownies and various types of extracts. The food at a beer festival tends to be chosen for specific reasons, i.e. it isn’t just any food… its taste compliments what you’re drinking! This particular company had samples of brownies made with their Bird’s Eye Chili Extract. It was very different from the chocolate brownies that I’m used to eating, and as a matter of fact, it was better!
- The Bird’s Eye Chili Extract: Handmade in Brooklyn with organic fair trade Thai chilies. It lends a complex flavor and just enough heat to savory dishes, drinks and desserts. This extract flavored brownie largely complimented all the craft beer I was drinking so I HIGHLY recommend that you try it (the recipe is available on their website).
If you’re a meat lover, you are going to LOVE this next one…
Slant Shack: A New Slant on Shacking
Do you like Carne Asada? Or how about Spicy Redrub or Maple Garlic flavored meat? Slant Shack does it right and their story is a good one:
Nine college friends. A crooked roof. A dream. Humanely, sustainably sourced 100% Grass-Fed Beef, organic spices and a proprietary dehydration process. The result? Jerky so tender you’ll think it’s a steak. Order, before we eat it all…
And if they don’t eat it all, I sure will! They also use organic spices and non-GMO, preservative free marinades. Yum. Now onto their tasty jerky…
- Carne Asade Jerky: Made with steak jerky seasoned with paprika, cumin, brown sugar and ginger.
- Shack Classic Jerky: Ginger, honey, garlic , cumin.
- Spicy Redrub: Made with steak jerky seasoned with cayenne, chili pepper, basil, and molasses.
- Maple Garlic: Made with steak jerky seasoned with maple syrup, garlic, and red pepper.
Willet Hop & Grain
The event told them to come up with something original to draw a crowd and they kept their promise…
We were talking with Sara Kaplan the freelance event coordinator from the NY Brewers Guild. Since we did not have any brews to share, she wanted us to think of something cool at our table that was a little out of the ordinary. Our group got together to figure out what we could do. Originally we were going to do a slideshow of the farm but after brainstorming this a bit, we thought it would be really cool to showcase our hop varieties and make it into a contest by having people try to identify hops by smelling them. So we lined up five varieties in jars marked only by numbers. We provided variety descriptions and a list of the varieties that were in the jars.
- Fun fact: I learned from them that a lot of people in the business know that back in the 1800’s New York State was the largest producer of hops in the US. Their goal, along with many others, is to help bring this business back to NY. Great group of people, but then again all beer goers tend to be.
- Side note: I was one of the brilliant 6 that won a t-shirt.
Now that you know a bit about what I ate and drank at this super fun kick-off to NYC Beer Week 2017, here’s what My Partner-In-Crime had to say about the event via a brief Q&A:
Q1: What did you do at the event and what was your favorite activity?
RF: I went from table to table trying all the different beers. Though I have to say my favorite activity was the Galaga machine where I had the high score by the time that I left under “DCK”.
Q2: Who are you to me and why did I bring you?
RF: I am a beer connoisseur and expert beer taster.
Q3: If you had to pick a beer to describe me, your girlfriend, what would it be?
RF: “You are “Weird & Gilly” from Singlecut Brewery because you are both sweet and occasionally sour, but always a bit weird.”
Q4: Which Brewery surprised you the most and why?
RF: Third Rail Ale. The beer was just so overwhelming in all of its smokey and woody flavors and more intense than anything I’ve ever tried before.
Q5: Do you prefer fine wine or good beer?
RF: Good beer, 100%!
Many thanks to Holly Garman of HMG Public Relations for the media passes to this fun-filled event!
Categories: Booze Banter, Brew Review
Great write up. I’m thinking of getting tix for this event for 2018. How were the lines last year? And what size sample glass did they give?