Cover image: © Tatsuya Aoki for WhereNYC
It was an afternoon of absolute beer-filled bliss at the New York City Craft Beer Festival event on Saturday. After arriving, I was immediately mesmerized by the beer tastings and more (They had a million flavors of beef jerky for sale and even candles made from beer bottles!).
Upon entering, each patron received a complementary beer-tasting shot glass. Tables stacked with different beers made it difficult to choose where to start. While the afternoon had a slightly low-key crowd, both sessions were full of people who were prepared to go par-tay after they were done enjoying their beer tastings.
Happily, many of the brews were local, along with others from different states and countries (even one from Nicaragua!). Most breweries displayed their flagship beers and new flavors.
There were several highlights of the beers we tried, including the Caramel Porter by Saranac (brewed in Utica, New York). According to the Saranac representative, this beer is a fall/winter beer due to its “darker, sweeter flavor.” On the contrary, the summer and spring flavors are “lighter and more bitter.” The caramel taste of the Caramel Porter was something unexpected. It was not too sweet, and the caramel taste gradually appeared in your mouth, leading to a, “Yep, that’s definitely caramel,” comment that my friend and I both made after we sipped the beer from our shot glasses.
Others were funky yet with delicious flavors, such as Westbrook’s Key Lime Pie flavored beer (brewed in South Carolina), and Golden Road’s Mango Cart beer (brewed in California). These are year round flavors due to their brewing locations. Golden Road’s Mango Cart is inspired by California’s beach weather, and beer fest customers each got a Golden Road cap, which certainly matched the brewery’s Southern California image.
As my friend and I did our rounds, we learned about beer trivia, including the basics. For example, did you know that IPA stands for Indian Pale Ale? Also, apparently IPAs, which tend to be bitter, are more “West Coast style” than “East Coast style.” According to the folks at Five Boroughs Brewing Company, East Coast style tends to be more “juicy” and less bitter. Hence, the Gose was their “East Coast style” beer. (I did not even know that Gose was a beer style, so this was all new to me.) I guess, for East Coasters, we experience enough daily bitterness from our stressful, uptight lifestyles, so an IPA would not be our go-to beer?
The festival also featured spirits, such as brandy (e.g. Western Grace), cognac (e.g. Camus), and even tequila (e.g. Blue Nectar). They had beer cocktail tastings that included these spirits, and my favorite mix was the Caramel Porter and Camus mix, naturally. For whiskey lovers, I recommend the Blue Nectar Arejo. If you did not know it was tequila, you would think it was whiskey. It was that whiskey-licious.
Furthermore, Kombucha was also poppin’ at the event. As a Japanese person, I thought of Kombucha as “kelp tea,” which is what kombucha is in Japan. Here, however, it is actually a “fermented tea” with many health benefits (such as energy gain, improved digestion, etc.) which can have alcohol content. There were many kombucha beers (?), such as Kombrewcha from Patchogue, Long Island. My confused self felt rewarded by the health benefits and did not feel like I was drinking alcohol at all when I tried these “kombucha” beers.
Needless to say, the beer festival was an excellent event, even for ones who may not be self-proclaimed beer lovers (like myself).
For more information on upcoming events, please visit New York City Craft Beer Festival.