On Saturday Sarah and I made the trip to Governors Island and met some friends at the fourth annual NY Brewfest. Despite the heat and the crowds it was a great day. The selection was generally dominated by summer wheat beers and IPAs, which were good for the weather but hurt the overall variety.
Among the many quality beers there were a few stand-outs. Empire Brewing Company served an interesting Maple Brown Ale that was made with New York maple syrup. The aroma was almost exclusively maple but it wasn’t overly sweet. Founders Brewery’s Dirty Bastard, which we first had at the Long Island Beer Festival, was delicious again with its strong caramel flavor and toasted malt character. Captain Lawrence brought a Kolsh beer as a welcome seasonal alternative to the wheat beers. It was one of the cleanest and best domestic Kolsh beers I’ve had. Sierra Nevada sampled its 30th anniversary Pioneers Stout collaboration with Fritz Maytag, who revitalized Anchor Brewing. It was woody and rich and you could tell that it will be even better with some time to mellow in the bottle. We ended the day with some High Seas Imperial Chocolate Stout that was right up our alley with its rich roasted character and bitter dark chocolate flavors.
I don’t have much more to add about the beer to Giancarlo’s review. We liked pretty much the same types during the afternoon. My favorite was definitely the High Seas Imperial Chocolate Stout, with Dirty Bastard coming in at a close second. I have the same complaint about the lack of variety. Even though it’s summer, everyone bringing their summer seasonals and IPAs to a brewfest is going to get a little monotonous. I hate to say it, but at hour two, everything tasted a little similar. I was looking for the standouts. Though I will mention Stone IPA – which I am ashamed to admit I hadn’t had before the brewfest – I loved it.
The crowds during the day were a drag, though. A venue like Governors Island is perfect for something like this, but way too many tickets were sold. It was just too many people – the beer lines were too long, so long that I would choose what I wanted to sample based on the line. This was unfortunate, because by the time we got to some breweries (Brooklyn comes to mind), they were out of beer (Black Ops. A tragedy). On the other hand, if you braved the lines, you had to wait packed among a bunch of hot and sweaty people. We won’t even get into the food line. In my opinion, the brewfest would have worked better spread out over two days, with less tickets sold on each day.
But I digress. It was the first time either of us had seen Governors Island (which is pretty awesome), we had fun with friends and we got to drink some good beer. Will I go back next year? Of course.