Blog: Caskfest at NY Beer Week 2014
Friday evening’s Opening Night Bash launched the kickoff to New York City Beer Week 2014- a complete sellout at Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall. Though only a few hundred guests gained access to more than thirty breweries that evening, the nine days that follow boast an array of exciting and interactive beer events at bars, restaurants and venues that expand to the different boroughs. Sunday evening, we trekked down to Tribeca for one such happening, the second session of the day at ornate brewpub 508 Gastrobrewery where the bar would host “Caskalot,” a celebration of cask conditioned ales for the more distinguished beer drinker.
After the afternoon session ending at 5pm had been a sold out affair, our arrival at 6pm was a far more relaxed setting greeted by friendly faces at the door and behind the bar, all of whom were more than willing to share their enthusiasm for the collection of assembled beers. Cask beer is considered ‘real beer’ because it’s typically unfiltered and unpasteurized and served with no additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide involved, which differs greatly from keg pours which utilize the aforementioned pressurized gasses to keep suds flowing. And some of New York City’s finest local breweries had sent along full casks which lined the entirety of the bar, dishing out ample pours of tasty ales to dozens and dozens of thirsty drinkers.
For three full hours, guests sipped upon fourteen different cask ales from the likes of Chelsea Brewing Company, Eataly’s La Birreria and Other Half Brewing Company. We tip our hat to the house brewer at 508 Gastrobrewery and no stranger to the craft beer scene, Chris Cuzme aka ‘Sir Caskalot.’ Pouring beer after beer from behind the bar, Cuzme’s three beers from the “Skinny Pete” to the “Alcoholiday” made with Big Alice Brewing, were big hits with the crowd on this night. But 508′s joint venture with City Island Beer Company on the “1393″ session style ale was our immediate favorite of the group with subtle hints of honey sourced from City Island rooftops evident in the smooth finish. We also seriously enjoyed Bronx Brewery’s “Black Pale Ale with Mangos,” a 5.7% abv brew that was more complex than we had anticipated.
Among the other highlights- Brooklyn Brewery’s “Threats and Promises” brought out notes of strawberries and chocolate amid their Brown Ale, Sixpoint Brewery’s always tasty “Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Otis” which had the highest alcohol content of the evening at 10.5% and packed a wallop with a mountain of complex flavors, and Finback Brewery’s “Finback IPA,” a hoppy, golden yellow American style pale ale that was surprisingly refreshing for our very first taste. The recently released beer is among the first from the new Queens based brewery, a notable addition to an already burgeoning craft beer scene here in the five boroughs.
The casual “Caskalot” was an ideal event to wind down the end of a weekend where mother nature teased spring time just enough to get us excited to head outside. With wintry weather certain to return this week however, don’t let that preclude you from checking out all of the exciting events that New York City Beer Week has to offer. There’s a multitude of happenings that suit any budget and all of the information can be found here. So raise a glass- and maybe even lift a pinky- and toast to some of the finest brews concocted right here at home.
- Jane Van Arsdale