Blog: The Craft Experience 2013
Wednesday evening brought some of the biggest names in beer and liquor together for a weeknight winter tasting event that needed three full floors of event space to house all of the participants. More than 125 breweries and 25 distilleries gathered together for an event aptly dubbed “The Craft Experience,” a three hour drink and local food tasting that served several hundred impressionable guests. What was different about “The Craft Experience” however, was the ability for attendees to chat with the beermakers themselves- and even some of the founders of each brewery- to taste some beers for the first time and to learn a bit more than we knew before.
On perhaps the coldest night of the season so far, guests fell in line down 22nd Street toward Tenth Avenue with tickets and IDs in hand to enter the tri-level venue. The all white space was particularly fitting for “The Craft Experience” because with so much room, the event never felt stuffy or overcrowded which can be the peril of many similar tastings. Quickly climbing the stairs, we grabbed our commemorative glasses and headed out to familiar territory. Each brewery had multiple beers on hand for the evening and once we spotted our pals from The Bronx Brewery we made sure to grab a pour of their “Black Pale Ale,” available seasonally for colder months. Deliciously medium bodied, the hints of dark cocoa and coffee were evident from the first sip. The beer is an ideal alternative to their American style “Pale Ale,” our favorite of any available in the genre.
Just a few steps away, we were treated to perhaps the freshest beer we’ve ever had before. Troegs‘ “Perpetual IPA” had literally been brewed and canned a mere nine hours before the event kicked off so we made sure to grab a healthy sized pour of the beer. Sporting a solidly fruity nose, the beer was golden in color and meshed equal components of sweet and bitter which made it incredibly drinkable. With some additional pours from the likes of Smuttynose Brewing Company, Flying Dog Brewery, and one of our perpetual favorites, Narragansett Brewing Company, including their new tasty “Bohemian Pilsner,” it was time to grab some eats. While there wasn’t a ton of food, offerings like Pelzers Pretzels, Brooklyn Kitchen‘s savory hot dogs, Landhaus‘ tasty “Maple Bacon on a Stick,” and The Jeffrey/Alewife‘s steak tartare were all noteworthy compliments to the beers on hand.
Non-beer drinkers were treated to some interesting alternatives as well. Mixologists from Blueprint Brands were crafting a variety of different cocktails in the center island on the second floor, while the likes of Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Bittermens, and even Smart Wine Company were all pouring nearby. But for us on this night, it was all about the beers and ciders. We sipped on a variety of sweet ciders from Original Sin, Naked Flock, and Doc’s Draft, as well as Crispin/Fox Barrel, whose brand we were tasting for the very first time. The “Pacific Pear,” dubbed an apple cider had more of a dry pear flavor, light bodied and lightly carbonated as far as refreshing ciders go. We made a few final stops at some more of our favorite breweries- Lagunitas, Blue Point Brewing, and at Victory Brewing Company where we chatted up the regional sales reps and founder/brewmaster Bill Covaleski. Pours of Victory’s “Winter Cheers” went down very smooth, uniquely combining the styles of a Hefeweizen and winter ale admirably. Hints of citrus and banana could be tasted throughout each sip with a pleasing array of hops to boot. This is definitely a nice change of pace beer suitable for cold winter months.
“The Craft Experience” was just that- an experience. Three full hours of imbibing and some light eating at a perfectly reasonable price inside of a spacious venue? The participants were more than happy to chat with anyone nearby, often leading to engrossing conversations about beers and the methodology behind the craft of creating them, by some of the most inventive minds in the business. Whether you came out to “The Craft Experience” simply to get your drink on with some friends or to discuss the particulars of the inclusion of yeast and hops in some of the evening’s finer tastes, there’s no doubt that you managed to get your money’s worth. And that’s something that we can all tip our glasses to.