Blog: International Great Beer Expo 2013
There’s just something so right about taking a bus out of the city and heading to our actual homeland of New Jersey (sorry folks, we are not lifetime Manhattanites. Few are.) to share a gigantic open convention space with fellow lovers of all things beer. And for one day a year, the Meadowlands Exposition Center is transformed into an industrial style oasis of sudsy goodness. It’s “The International Great Beer Expo” and in its third year, the event blew away everything that we loved about last year’s festivities and then some. With a speedy commute out to the Jersey marshlands, brand new brews for 2013, the lack of any kind of wait for beer pours and a general party vibe, we have a lot of great things to report as we reflect back on this past Saturday.
We arrived shortly after noon and quickly got our tickets punched to the afternoon session. Since the event officially began at 12:30pm on the nose, early guests like us would have to wait inside the Center but in a blocked off area. Unlike other events we have attended, not one person looked put off by the wait, likely because we weren’t forced to stand out in the cold. It literally gave everyone time to pump themselves up, grab some pretzels and buy some t-shirts to remember the day. And right at the scheduled start time the makeshift barriers came down and everyone began to make their way to whichever beer purveyor they so chose to begin imbibing.
Since winter was still very much in the air, we opted to start the Expo off with a round of orters from the popular Pennsylvania brewery, Stoudts and the fantastic sea side Cape May Brewery of New Jersey. Both fine crafted ales were extremely nutty and creamy. With a fantastic bold brew base, we moved onto some lighter fare. Our team dove deep into some Polish pilsners from Tyiske, which is crisp and delicious, followed by a quick trip to hops heaven from our friends at Smuttynose and Flying Fish. Even though I’m personally not a fan of IPAs, these folks make them super drinkable.
Food sampling- especially that of the spicy variety- helped us to both challenge our taste buds and not get sauced too quick. Luckily our old friends at The Jerky Hut were on hand selling their vast selection of savory dehydrated meat snacks. And since we were in the mood for heat we went for a huge bag of their Habenero Teriyaki variety. Not only was it super tasty with a killer burn, but it paired brilliantly with many of the beer pours we would enjoy throughout the day. The in house quesadillas and buffalo chicken wraps also hit the spot, but in the end, the day revolved around the different brews. More famous breweries like Sam Adams, Dos XX, and Blue Moon drew considerable crowds, while smaller craft purveyors like Flying Fish, Ruckus Brewing, and Tommyknocker stood alongside the big boys, getting their name out there.
Pours of Pilsner Urquell went down especially smooth as we alternated between the stands of Benito’s Hot Sauce and the folks at Letterman Enterprises slinging choice bottles of Bonfatto’s Wing Sauces. Other choice pours from 21st Amendment and Otter Creek and ciders from Magners and Woodchuck were also especially tasty on this afternoon. As the hours rolled by and our buzz amplified, we rushed to the coat check to grab our clothing layers before heading out toward the bus stop to await for our ride back into the Big Apple. Some may have stayed around for the evening session as well, while we try to figure out how that kind of lasting power is even possible. Our bellies filled with rich, delicious beers and bar type fare, and our minds, sound and satisfied, thankful that the International Great Beer Expo has become an annual rite of passage.
- Jay Rubin