Blog: NYC Craft Beer Fest- Summer International
Saturday, June 21st marked the first day of summer. It was perhaps fitting then that the solstice would occur in concert with the latest in a string of wildly successful beer-centric events from the team at NYCCraftbeerfest.com, where the “Summer International” festival had already delivered tons of two ounce pours to thirsty drinkers at Friday evening’s kickoff session. Although temperatures soared on Saturday afternoon, revelers were lined long around the block of the Lexington Avenue Armory, eschewing the shining sun for sudsy pours of tasty and eclectic seasonal beers.
Connoisseurs were welcomed inside of the sprawling armory space at 1pm, even as many of the beer stations were still being prepped. Volunteers manned most of the taps, as the Beer Fest team recently joined forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in an effort to increase awareness for the organization. Those of us in attendance were urged to cast votes for our favorite beers and to a degree our favorite pourers and the volunteer receiving the most votes would be given a donation toward their related cause- most of whom would be participating in walk-athons or marathons for the Society.
Guests began filing in quickly as the General Admission session began, often taking some time to peruse some items for purchase at The Jerky Hut and at on-site Kilt stand, which offered some traditional looking garb in varying colors. With out tasting glasses and floor map in hand, we headed into familiar territory and began seeking out some of our favorite domestic craft beer pours before delving into the area of the Internationally unknown. Traditional warm weather beers like the Allagash “White” and Harpoon “Summer Beer” were particularly refreshing- light and crisp, with citrusy elements. Smuttynose’s “Summer Weizen Ale” also jumped into our short list of summer favorites with spice-filled notes and a bit of bitterness on the taste. Also worthy of praise, Long Island’s own Great South Bay Brewery whose “Blonde Ambition” is at least on par with their “Blood Orange Pale Ale.” With nice touches of apricot that yield a sweet flavor profile, the medium bodied brew was a pleasant surprise in that it was flavorful and yet not overly heavy- just a nice drinkable summer-time beer.
We spent some time down in the basement level Connoisseurs Lounge where we encountered some exclusive pours of Goose Island’s 14.2% ABV (!!!) “Bourbon County Stout,” and took in some live music with our rowdy brethren. After grabbing a bite from Rosamunde Sausage Grill, it was time to dive into some of the international flavors being served and Schneider Weisse’s “Aventinus,” widely considered a classic, was among our favorite beers being poured all afternoon. The semi-sweet taste was rivaled by the intense fruit-first aromas and as was remarkably drinkable for such an array of different characteristics. Meanwhile, Weihenstephan’s “Hefeweissbier,” a banana hinted refreshing hefeweizen is perhaps the most fundamentally sound of the genre. Fueled by spiced cloves, yeast and nutmeg, the smooth clean style is a delicious revelation and is the standard bearer for which all great hefewizenss should be judged.
With more than 150 beers being served, we can only narrow down our favorites to so many and since we typically avoid the porters and oatmeal stouts in favor of lighter varieties, we are certainly capable of recognizing quality in any category. Ballast Point’s “Big Eye IPA,” Magic Hat’s “Dream Machine IPL,” Ommegang’s “Hennepin” and pours from Warsteiner, Alphabet City Brewing Company, as well as a tasty “Sawtooth Ale” from Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing Company, each received considerable taste-points as our afternoon wore on. And though by the end of the afternoon session our handwriting became less and less legible, we’re certain that a star, an A+, and a #1 probably meant that we tasted something that we really liked.
- Dave Gendelson