Blog: LivingSocial Craft Beer Fest
Dozens of the biggest purveyors of craft beer descended upon the Skylight One Hanson building in Fort Greene all weekend long, in the shadows of Brooklyn’s brand spanking new arena, the Barclays Center. While the likes of Jay-Z, Barbara Streisand, and The Rolling Stones wouldn’t be performing in the area this past weekend, hundreds of thirsty locals packed the former bank space for the LivingSocial hosted “Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival.” With 50 plus pours of tasty craft beers and the likes of Snap, Nuchas, and Shorty’s with food trucks in the patio space out back, perhaps the last warm weather weekend of 2012 was a booze filled celebration in one of Brooklyn’s most historic locations.
The event was spaced out in three four-hour sessions between Friday and Saturday and with the weather so pleasant all weekend long, the noon to 4pm Saturday timeslot seemed to suit us best. Attendees were lined around the massive Williamsburgh Savings Bank long before the 12pm entrance time in anticipation of what was to come. Immediately upon entering, guests were handed plastic cups and tickets for beer redemption at each pouring station, manned by friendly LivingSocial volunteers. The spacious bank floor was transformed to a living, breathing biergarten of sorts, and despite the beers being poured in relatively narrow quarters, wait times were manageable and lengthy lines were non-existent.
The folks at LivingSocial, who have been hosting similar events in big cities all over the country, certainly pulled out all the stops in making the event a fun experience for event-goers. With beers in hand, we first ventured down to the basement space which was basically a playground for adults. A DJ was working the mix in a makeshift ‘rave’ equipped with beanbag chairs and black lights, while just outside the room, oversized games of Connect Four and Jenga drew in the more competitive drinkers near a massive inflatable chair on display for photo opportunities. The party also continued outside in the space’s backyard where picnic tables were filled with patrons munching on tasty food truck fare and those who opted to get their healthy dose of Vitamin D from the seasonal sunlight.
Somehow despite three separate sessions, the event was just about at capacity- a testament to LivingSocial’s citywide reach. And while there were moments of crowding, the tasty sips of different brews made sure that nobody was truly bothered by it. Speaking of the sips, we’d be hard pressed to name all of the craft beers that we imbibed that afternoon, but there are certainly a few worth praising. Mission Brewery’s ‘Amber’ was among our first sips of the day and was also one of our favorites. Despite being relatively dark, it drinks like a crisper lighter beer than we would have anticipated.
Normally at brewfests of this size and caliber, we shy away from the stouts and porters because we look for beers that are repeatedly drinkable, but it must be said that two of these opened our eyes a bit. First, the Breckenridge ‘Vanilla Porter’ was a revelation- tasting of richly roasted nuts mixed with hints of vanilla bean, the dark pour was incredibly flavorful and smooth. Meanwhile, the Stoudt’s “Oktoberfest” was the perfect prep for autumn weather with an array of sweetness both in taste and aroma. Each sip of tasty amber had us longing for the changing of leaves. Although we certainly had our favorites, one brewery seems to stand out time and time again at these events- Providence, Rhode Island’s Narragansett. Pouring tastes of their ‘Lager’ and ‘Light,’ the American beers were both light and easily drinkable, but also had a richer taste than your run-of-the-mill domestic draughts and became our primary stop for repeat visits.
LivingSocial is a company predicated on delivering value to its customers. And it’s encouraging to know that they take such pride in working out every detail for the events that they themselves are hosting, as our session was run fluidly and without incident. In New York City, it’s not uncommon for a craft beer or food truck event to be held virtually every weekend. But the festivities this past weekend held inside an iconic Brooklyn institution was about as well run and as much fun as any in recent memory. Just ask anyone lucky enough to have attended.
- Jane Van Arsdale