It is hard to believe that in less than a month we will be celebrating the 7th Annual NYC Beer Week. Over these last seven years New York City’s beer scene has changed dramatically with new breweries, bars, bottle shops, and restaurants that recognize the importance of a good beer list. As New York becomes more of a beer city, Beer Week has also changed. While we might miss things like the old passport, beer week continues to mature under the leadership of the NYC Brewers Guild (NYCBG). The most noticeable gains for a week that already included festivals, beer dinners, tap takeovers, and educational events is the focus this year on New York’s breweries, both in the city and the rest of the state.
Brewers Choice, one of the featured events of Beer Week, asked brewers to brew using New York ingredients. This year, breweries will all use the same ingredients and each brew a “SMASH” Beer. Standing for State Malt and State Hops, it will showcase not only brewers’ creativity, but also the quality of ingredients we have here in New York State.
BeerUnion caught up via email with NYC Brewers Guild President Kelly Taylor and Gun Hill Brewery owner Dave Lopez (also heavily involved in the planning of Beer Week) to find out how they believe this year’s NYC Beer Week will impact and help promote New York’s beer community.
How has NYC Beer Week has changed this year?
Kelly Taylor: We’ve put this year forward as a “Year of Partnerships.” We’re partnering with some great NYC beer people, from Get Real Presents, The Good Beer Seal, to the New York State Brewers Association. It takes many to make a great Beer Week. We also added some cool content this year, from the Opening Tap at 7 p.m on Friday 2/20 where dozens of restaurants and bars around the city all tap a special, unique keg at the same time, to the Rupperts Cup, a charity fundraiser/peoples choice award for Best NYC Beer Week Brewery. And the SMASH Brew as well. Lots of firsts this year.
Dave Lopez: Even though Beer Week has always had a local feel to it, the involvement of Taste NY and the New York State Brewer’s Association has really pushed the “local” aspect even further. One of the results of this is the SMASH brew. Another change this year is the “opening tap” event. This event helps re-emphasize the group that is instrumental in making beer week what it is…the retailers. The opening tap parties should be a great way for retailers and breweries to showcase some special brews.
What parts of Beer Week do you think demonstrate what makes NYC a great place for beer?
KT: I think the sheer number of venues serving great craft beer, and the quality of the food that’s served with the beer. DBGB, Applewood, Blue Ribbon restaurants, Luke’s Lobster. World class food and world class beer, side by side, all year long.
DL: While the sheer number of bars and restaurants involved in beer week point to just how far this city has come over the last few years, I think the opening party and the Brewer’s Choice event really demonstrate what makes NYC a great place for beer. These two events allow attendees to sample multiple beers in one place from all NYC breweries. [They are] the few (and possibly the only) events that showcase all NYC breweries in one location at the same time.
Do you think the New York SMASH (State Malt And State Hops) beers at Brewers’ Choice can help showcase the state’s potential?
KT: Absolutely. Shows the creativity and dedication in the farming, malting, and brewing communities. Just a snapshot of what the whole grain to glass community can do, when [everyone] works together.
DL: It serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it shows the creativity of the individual breweries within the NYCBG, as each brewery chose the beer they were going to make using the same three malts and three hops. Second, it is an opportunity to showcase the hop growers and malt producers that are going to be instrumental in the growth and development of the New York City and New York State brewing scene going forward.
Do you think that having so many New York State brewers at the opening bash will help connect the city with brewers outside the city?
KT: I hope that the Opening Bash shows the city dwellers what is going on upstate, but also shows the upstate brewers how sophisticated the NYC Beer Market has become. Should be a great event.
DL: It certainly can’t hurt. I think it’s a great way to introduce many people to breweries they might not be familiar with or can’t readily find on tap in NYC. More to the point, I think having so many New York State brewers at the opening helps reinforce that New York City and State have made great strides in the brewing community.
New York City Beer Week kicks off on February 20, with the Opening Bash on February 21 at the Altman Building, and lasts through March 1 with the Closing Beer and Brass Brunch at Brooklyn Bowl. Featured events include Brewers Choice and the Ruppert’s Cup.