Blog: NYC Craft Beer Fest - Summer Release 2015
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Pier 15 at the South Street Seaport hosted three days of the NYC Craft Beer Festival this weekend, welcoming guests to great brews and views for the festival’s “Summer Release” celebration and tasting. Upwards of 75 breweries were pouring more than 150 different beer selections as the sun set over the East River. Some more readily available breweries were on hand to serve up favorites like Magic Hat, Abita and Sierra Nevada, but we had a blast trying out the huge selection of smaller producers, searching for our new go-to summer beers.
Surveying the selections, we thought it best to start with lighter beers before moving on to the wide array of IPAs and heavier brews. Decidedly seasonal, it only felt appropriate to start with shandies. From Harpoon, the “UFO Big Squeeze” was a perfect sweet and tart summer beer, with light and refreshing grapefruit. Keeping with that citrus theme was Downeast’s “Lemonade Cider,” which was served with the recommendation of added whiskey to really kick things up. Beyond these summer favorites were many more brews featuring fruit, a welcome freshness for the warmer season. Elysian’s “Superfuzz” was a citrusy pale ale featuring blood orange, though it wasn’t overwhelmingly fruity. Two Brothers Brewing Company meanwhile poured samples of their “Monarch” white beer, which was especially crisp though we thought it offered up hints of green fruit rather than the citrus in its description. While we easily could have kept drinking any of these all evening, we resisted the urge and turned our attention toward ales.
IPAs made up the majority of the tastings, providing a great display of the brew’s vast potential. Ballast Point served two of our favorites, their very balanced “Sculpin” and a “Grapefruit Sculpin,” which builds upon their traditional IPA’s citrus notes. Brutal IPA thankfully did not live up to its name with their very gentle brew, a good option for anyone looking for an approachable entry into the genre. From Vermont, Wolavers “Organic IPA” is also a good option for an all day IPA due to its smooth, gentler hops. While at their table, we sampled their “Wildflower Wheat,” that smelled but did not taste sweet, with notes of honey and spice.
Liking the change up from the string of hoppiness, we sought out some more wheat beers, transitioning with a few beers that blended styles. There were quite a few White IPAs, which are a good summer drinking option for those not wanting to fully abandon the hoppy complexities of IPAs for the sweetness of shandies. A hybrid of an IPA and a wheat beer, white IPAs capitalize on the traditional flavor profiles of IPAs but cut through heaviness and bitterness, often with citrus notes. Otter Creek’s “White IPA” was lightly citrusy with a peppier carbonation than most. Perhaps showing some local bias, we especially enjoyed Braven’s “White IPA” as well. Its grapefruit aroma and hints of spice balancing a light maltiness offered the best of two worlds. On the heavier side, “Le Freak” by Green Flash was a good example of an IPA hybrid from the other end of the scale- an American Imperial IPA turning all its features up while finding some balance through its Belgian Trippel side. Significantly bitter, it was deceptively smooth for having over 9% abv, but is a good choice for a single-beer night.
There was a wide selection for those interested in something entirely different. Anyone who enjoys a Moscow Mule should taste Nine Pin’s “Ginger Hard Cider,” a refreshing ginger beer with 6.7% alcohol. B Nektar Meadery’s “Slice of Life” cider meanwhile, featured ginger in a much subtler way, complimenting its apple along with lemon. Badass’s “Apple Hard Cider” was crisp without any lingering sweetness. And for those looking for sweet, Founders Rubaeus was unmistakably raspberry, tart, and pink while Kombrewcha Tea Beer was delightful on its own with flavors like lemongrass lime and blackberry hibiscus, and with a low abv could easily be made into a refreshing cocktail.
The food vendors on site helped to fuel the sampling masses by wisely providing options that required only one hand to eat. We enjoyed pairing our tacos from Dos Toros Taqueria with our second try of Sculpin Grapefruit. We regrettably did not adorn ourselves with pretzel necklaces as those that did had not only a fun accessory, but a readily available snack that didn’t slow down sampling. Whether an expert or a novice drinker, an event like the NYC Craft Beer Festival is one that lends itself to all levels of beer appreciators. It was an excellent way to try variations on old favorites, compare interpretations, discover new favorites, and most importantly, welcome summer back to New York City.
- Mallory Sullivan