Blog: NYC Craft Beer Fest- Autumn Harvest
Thousands of costume wearing New Yorkers flocked to the Lexington Armory all weekend long, packing in three sessions of the seasonal NYC Craft Beer Festival. The ‘Autumn Harvest’ theme would be celebrated with roughly 150 different beers represented from 75 breweries from around the world, encompassing an unparalleled variation of brewed styles. Whether you enjoy an IPA or a cider, a stout or a porter, there’s no shortage of new beers to try. And with our three ounce tasting glasses in hand, we headed out to taste the frenzy.
The Armory is as an impressive space as there is in New York City. The wide open auditorium has become the unofficial home to the NYC Craft Beer Festival in recent years as the setting has provided ample room to host a slew of breweries, restaurants and vendors while alleviating any lengthy lines for waiting. With delicious fare being cooked up by the likes of Taproom No. 307, Bill’s Balls and Morris Grilled Cheese, the air was filled with some incredible smells as guests rushed to wash down the eats at each of the different pouring stations. Best of all though is that guests are afforded the opportunity to sip on some distinctive beers- each of which have distribution in the New York area and as such, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to be jotting down notes on some of the weekend’s very best.
Friday night’s Halloween session barely thinned out a festive and dressed up crowd, who likely utilized the Beer Festival as a pre-game of sorts for what was certain to be a wild night on the town. Zombies, nurses and dated pop cultural references (The Sandlot!) filed in to the buzzing space for the two and a half hour evening session. Saturday’s afternoon and night time events were a bit more crowded but certainly offered less in the way of eye-catching costumes. Most importantly though, the beers were pouring like water.
Though LocalBozo.com was well represented at the Festival all weekend long, we’d be remiss if we failed to honestly praise the beers being poured from Two Brothers. The Warrenville, Illinois brewery sent out some exceptional bottles for the New York masses to consume. First, the “Wobble IPA” was as light and approachable an IPA as we can remember having ever tasted. Pleasantly citrusy and well balanced, the beer was a big hit even with folks who ‘really don’t like IPA’s.’ The “Cane and Ebel” meanwhile was the beer of the festival in our eyes. Nicely dry, the ‘hopped-up Red Rye Ale’ was particularly revelatory. With a 7.0% alcohol content, the big dark beer was nicely spiced (without being too sweet) and fairly hoppy- making it an absolutely ideal cold weather brew.
Cider fans would have been absolutely pleased with a selection that ranged from the tasty (Badass Hard Cider’s “Quite A Pear”) to the downright excellent (ACE’s “Pineapple Cider”), which we used to wash down a heaping sleeve of packaged meat courtesy of The Jerky Hut. Other standouts ranged from the dark (Wolaver’s pitch black “Oatmeal Stout”) to the seasonal (Chelsea Brewing Company‘s creamy and excellent “Pumpkin Pie Ale”) to the pales (Lancaster Brewing Company’s “Hop Hog IPA” is deceptively malty given its distinction) to the truly unique. Though stout lovers might wince, James Page Brewing Company’s “Casper” is a white stout with notes of white chocolate that was among the most eccentric pours that we noticed during the weekend. Medium-bodied, the chocolate aroma is prevalent from nose to taste and its one that we’ll graciously laud for their efforts toward being eccentric.
Familiar names like Blue Point, Abita and Sixpoint stood beside lesser known brands like Belfast Bay, Grimm and Midnight Sun Brewing Co. as the weekend gave every beer lover something new to set their palates upon. Some folks even tasked themselves with tasting each and every beer offered on site- a challenge that we had no intention of taking up. The reasonably priced and consistently excellent NYC Craft Beer Festival once again gave eventgoers yet another reason to appreciate the tremendous work being done by the staff to pull off such an undertaking season after season- even as the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” rang out to signal the end of another Festival session, ushering the hundreds of attendees out of the Armory’s front doors.
- Dave Gendelson