The Beer Stays: NYC Craft Beer Festival

Over the weekend, the 2017 NYC Craft Beer Festival rolled into NYC’s Metropolitan Pavilion and smashed the majority of its 2,000+ attendees.

If you’re abeer aficionado, a seasoned beer drinker, or someone who is new to the craft-beer scene (but really dig it), you should try to attend as many of these events as you possibly can. The beers were (mostly) seasonal, and the overall event was fun, jovial, and undeniably bottomless. However, the festival was not just for zythophiles; there was something for just about everyone including: cocktails, food, bocce ball, some strange beanbag tossing game called “corn hole,” samples from small-batch perfume and soap companies, tools for men’s grooming needs, cigars, and, if I recall correctly, I would have even been able switch my home’s energy from coal to solar if I could only remember my PSE&G password. You get the idea; there was a lot going on in a very cool, well-lit, impressive space. No matter their level of engagement or knowledge, attendees left knowing more about craft beer.

After checking in, my brother and I were given 4 oz shot glasses and encouraged to sample as many of the 150+ beers, ciders, and meads, representing micro-breweries from all over the country (and Germany from what I saw), as possible. And while 4 ounces doesn’t seem like a lot (it’s a little larger than a shot glass), four of these equal a pint. If you have any inkling of trying all (or even half) of the available samples, you’re talking 15+ pints in less than 2.5 hours. Quite the throw-down for any man, woman, or linebacker.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, I arrived with a purpose that required me to stay relatively sober. I was looking for the absolute, undeniably, best local beer that I had neither heard of, nor tried before. I casually made my way around the room, sipping the offerings and chatting with representatives about the two brews they chose to highlight. Surprisingly, I did not find any beer from JC or Hoboken, which may have been an oversight, but I looked around the entire floor more than once. (Ed. Note: Dan’s right – Intoxicated, maybe, but right nonetheless. There were no representatives from JC or Hoboken at the event.)
My top 3:

BRONZE:

The Pomegranate-Sour, the King’s County Brewers Collective: This was actually the first beer I sampled. Despite drinking 20-30 others afterward, the memory of it stayed with me for the remainder of the evening. David Meyers, Sales Commander, was kind enough to explain the brewing process, detailing their method of toning down the sour aspects in order to promote the pomegranate highlights.

SILVER:

The Mermaid Pilsner, the Coney Island Brewing Company: Unless I can see the ocean and it’s before 5pm in any given local, I’m not usually a pilsner guy; however, this light-bodied, crisp drinking, and nicely hopped lager is in a class all its own. Hints of wild malt and mild spiciness make it the perfectly balanced “not-dark” beer to drink pretty much anytime. I could have easily had a pint of this with a nice batch of (insert protein here) wings and happily called it a night.

GOLD:

I’m glad I didn’t though because I would have missed The Queens Lager from the Queens Brewery! This beer was FANTASTIC! It had a beautiful golden color – not unlike my personal favorite, and refrigerator staple, Sierra Nevada. It was sweet and mildly hoppy with a hint of smoke and a smooth, silky aftertaste. If we were able to buy growlers at this event, this is the one that would have been worth carrying 4 blocks and one PATH ride back to JC. Richard Jordan, the brewery’s representative explained to me that they are “in the process of opening a 10,000 square foot facility, steps from the Halsey L train stop, right on the border of Queens and Bushwick, BK,” providing easy access from Manhattan and all the surrounding boroughs.

In addition, they also plan on having a beer garden, a coffee roaster, local cocktails, high-end bar food, European weekend football, and a variety of live music. “We’re hoping it evolves into a very active community space,” Richard added. He also mentioned that the owner is a musician who writes a new song for every beer brewed. “When the facility is fully functional” he told me, “and one of the songs plays –  We plan on offering extreme specials , like free beer,   for the song’s duration.”

I hung out with Richard for another 5 minutes or so, filling up my four-ouncer repeatedly while talking to him about the possibilities of Ur Doing It Right staying in touch in order to highlight their progress on the space and keeping up with their seasonal offerings and the tunes that go with them. I’m looking forward to the day (soon?) that we find their beers in Jersey City.

“Our goal is not to be a snobby, trendy beer,” said Richard. “We want our brewery to be for the people. We want them to have fun, we want them to think our beer is good, and most importantly, we want them to drink a lot of it!”

When all was said and done, with the NYC buzz freshly swirling around a sea of hops and malt, my brother and I walked back to the PATH. When we realized it was only 9:45, we naturally headed across the river to our local beer garden where we consumed some much-needed junk food and a delicious, proper pint!

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