Last Saturday we attended the NYC Craft Beer Festival – Winter Harvest. It was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy (having originally been scheduled for November 10) and the location was also changed. In spite of these factors – which could easily derail a festival of this size – we thought the event was great.
A lot of breweries were pouring their beers, contributing to short lines (or no lines) and a good flow. Attendees were ushered in quickly and efficiently. Breweries like the Bronx Brewery, Wandering Star, Captain Lawrence, Founders, and Allagash were there, many of which had reps on hand to talk about their beers instead of volunteers.
If you were willing to pay the $125 for the connoisseur level ticket there was an awesome selection of beers and some delicious cheeses from Murray’s to pair them with. Highlights from the connoisseur lounge were Founders Bolt Cutter, Brooklyn Black Ops, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, and The Breuery’s Autumn Maple. Our favorite pairing was bold Founders Bolt Cutter, a barleywine, with the rich Bayley Hazen Blue cheese. The finger food billed for the connoisseur lounge was lacking, especially considering the high ticket price. Unfortunately most of the beers in the connoisseur lounge were gone with 45 minutes still left in the festival.
There were three seminars, focused on pairing beer with food for the holidays (with Beer Sommelier Hayley Jensen and Chef Stephen Durley), beer and cheese pairings (with Kevin Brooks of Murray’s Cheese) and start-up tips to apply to any small business (with Chris Gallant, general manager of the Bronx Brewery), which we attended. One of the highlights of his talk: “The most important thing in entrepreneurship is an exceptional product.” The commitment to making an exceptional product is why we love the Bronx Brewery so much.
All in all, a great and fun festival. The venue – Basketball City at Pier 36 – turned out to be pretty awesome. And of course there were some great beers.