Tag Archives: festival

Too Experienced: The Craft Experience

Finally… a beer festival that can live up to it’s price tag.

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JC and I were blessed to attend the press session which resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere of business owners, distributors, and writers tasting beers.  Along with the brewmasters in attendance, constant hot food circulating, and a massive pile of chocolate and cheese – this was definitely the best of the fests.

The Craft Experience was marketed as an elite event open for the first time to the public.  The venue screamed this being among art galleries in Chelsea.  All fancy pants aside, we are here for the beer.

And it delivered.  In addition to having brewery tables, there were distributor tables that had a few beers from the same country.   For example, a Belgian table had plenty of different Saisons, a German with Hefeweizens and Pilsners, etc.

On top of that there were spirits – which for the sake of being able to still walk home that night, we sampled only one, the Ballast Point Old Grove Gin which fits nicely into the disappointed category for that brewery.  They make whiskey, but it’s unavailable in NY (walk back West where you came from Ballast Point).

Did we mention the food?  Us whores devoured the hors d’oeuvres. From grilled cheese, mini burgers, chicken & fig skewers, shrimp cocktail…there was plenty, but never enough when you’re drinking for hours.

Most importantly, because the brewmasters, presidents and CEO’s of the breweries were there, they wanted to talk to you about the beer.  Unlike most beer fests aka cattle farms, you weren’t waiting on lines for ages only to be pushed away by the next eager beaver pounding their two ounce sample.

Ideally all beer events would be 1 ticket for a multiple day festival (like the magical Fancy Food Show) so there is no rush and a conversation with someone serving the beer isn’t unheard of, or looked down upon.  But with the popularity of these events, most event planners are looking to milk the cows for all they got.

A festival like this gives hope to those looking for something beyond a race against the clock drinking marathon.

Highlights:

Type Company Name JC # CE # Avg # Notes
Stout (Milk) Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout 8 8 8 lots of chocolate, touch of java. Served hot could pass as hot chocolate
Pilsner (German Style) Neumarkter Lammsbräu Organic Pilser 7.5 6.5 7 best pilsner ever, crisp, drop water taste, clean
Lambic (Fruit) Brouwerij Lindemans Lindemans Framboise 8.5 9 9 perfect balance of sweet/sour, pure dessert in a bottle, drinking raspberry jelly. Pleasurable pucker!

Duds:

Pumpkin Ale The Bruery Autumn Maple 1.5 2.5 2 dry medicine, nausea inducer (stick to their sour)
Gimmick/Spiced Moa Breakfast Ale 3.5 1.5 2.5 bitter version of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat (not an improvement) raised .5 since East Ville Des Folies
Gimmick/Spiced Pyramid Apricot Ale 3.5 2.5 3 very fake, artificial perfume, nothing positive

 

We’re looking forward to being invited back next year.

 

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PS Check out those real glasses, not plastic shot glasses.  That sums up the entire event.

3B’s – Babes, Bros, & Bi’s aka…

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With a lack of advertising not sure how anyone found out about this thing (heard from a friend on our side), and it showed since it was practically empty.  This is not a complaint.   In fact, this was the best beer fest attended in many considering:

1) no lines for beer

2) all taps (not anti-bottles, but nothing like a fresh pour)

3) plenty of beer reps (over volunteers) who were happy to interact and discuss the beer

4) heavy pours in a glass lacking any dotted lines

5) 3 hour session at $38 including food and a game of bowling

6) beautiful scenery/smells of a nice bowling alley vs the usual spilled beer on concrete at an expo center

The event represented what a beer festival should be since most festivals translate to shit shows these days.  In fact, this post is a petition for companies to start defining these events more specifically than festivals.  While Shit Show may not fly with the advertising or legal department, why not go with party or trade show?  Party since it’s often people just getting totally hammered and trade show since they are usually held in event halls common to said event.

It’s probably a futile effort but let it be known with the rise in popularity of beer festivals comes the party atmosphere of chugging over testing/trying the hundreds of beers listed on their website.  Thankfully events like these come along where you can sit back and relax, as if you are at a great beer bar like The Owl Farm where you can try 20-30 new beers every few weeks.

Should they call it tea parties instead?  I wouldn’t mind.  If it keeps out the crowds, all the better.

Highlights:
Speaking with the fresh flower that repped Sixpoint “Cool-Aid” Brewery who didn’t take kindly to any constructive criticism provided on the beer.

Lager (Euro Dark), Anderson Valley, El Steinber Dark Lager
JC – 5, CE- 6.5, Avg- 6    Notes: sour then dry, very unique, sweet smell/taste, butter scotch, easy to go down (rest of notes illegible- “ready die- less carb, tail end >again”

Gimmick/Spiced, Left Hand, Good Juju
JC- 5.5, CE- 5, Avg- 5.5  Notes: ginger beer/lager mix, ginger is weird, like a cider/shandy

Pilsner (Czech Style), Sierra Nevada, Summerfest Lager
JC- 5.5, CE- 4.5, Avg- 5  Notes: fruity BO, flowery, sweet pils ending, hint hops. draft just as crisp as bottle but tastes better, JC – reminded me of light version of their IPA

Duds:
Ale (American Blonde), Victory, Summer of Love
JC- 2.5, CE- 0.5, Avg- 1.5  Notes: hop hell, onion ring nose

Stout (American 2x), Green Flash, Double Stout Black Ale
JC- 1.5, CE- 1, Avg- 1.5   Notes: tastes dirty, shit on rye with a bitter finish (must be the rye seeds)

Lager (Imperial Pale), Ballast Point, Fathom IPL
JC- 1, CE- 0.5, Avg- 1  Notes: hop smell, body odor shit, you’ve heard it all before, (IPL = Imperial Pale Lager)

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Spring Craft Dud (Beer) Festival 2013- Nassau Coliseum

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The calendar says Spring is here so here come the next wave of beer festivals.  Once again Starfish Junction hosted at Nassau Coliseum, a change from the last one at Belmont Race track where your body temperature matched the beers’.

Before heading to the festival, you could have downloaded or printed a printable brewery map which was a good start, but they should take note from Hand Crafted Taste Co, who has started to list the brews available from each brewery for their NYC Craft Beer Festival – Spring Seasonals happening March 30th (see you there).

Tickets indicated doors opened at 5pm, but the line didn’t start moving for another 30 minutes and it was staggered entry afterward.  Strike two.  Next festival let’s get more than one entrance or start checking ID’s while people are waiting on line.  Inciting anger in a crowd ready to drink is never the right move.

Once inside, the crowds looked overwhelming but lines moved very nicely.  They always have a charity set up (no better person to give their money away than a drunk one) where 3 basketball foul shots cost $5 and for every basket you get a raffle ticket.  But what, are you here for the beer?

Well for the most part, they sucked.  We can blame it on the fact that it was a spring focus of beers, therefore more hoppy, or that Long Island Breweries aren’t held in high regard by this blog (still looking for a favorite from there).  But of the 45 beers tried, only 2 (!) averaged a high score of 6.  This brings up plenty of issues…

There were 64 breweries listed on the site which served an average of 2 beers at their table, for a total of 128 beers.  And we got to 45,  which is less than a third of available beers (and how about the mystery bottleshop with 5 extra beers?).  With a 3.5 hour session (Session II: 5:30 pm – 9:00pm) you should be able to get to more, but as mentioned earlier, not getting in til 6:15 didn’t help.  As a nice book end, many breweries ran out of beer by 8:30pm so it’s now about a 2 hour session.  [An email was written to the company about this issue, and no response was received.]

While you may be thinking, “but you were writing all your stupid scribble notes down, so you missed out on precious drink time.”  Don’t fret- were writing down while waiting on the next line just like our great grandfathers’ did in the factory assembly line.  It’s called efficiency, sweetheart!    Still, it wasn’t enough for the Dud Fest.

The nail in the coffin was the mask of “craft” beers while many major companies were hiding behind new labels, such as Coors with their Third Shift and Batch 19.

Highlights:
Pilsner (Czech Style,) Brouwerij Palm NV, Estaminet Premium Pils
JC- 6, CE- 5.5, Avg.-6    Notes:  Clean Pils

Ale (Scottish), Olde Burnside Brewing Co, Ten Penny Ale
JC-5, CE-5.5, Avg- 5.5   Notes: tastes like dunkin donuts

Flanders Oud Bruin, Brouwerij, Van Steenberge N.V., Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
JC- 5.5, CE-6, Avg.- 6    Notes: nice & smooth, not too sour

Duds:  (where to start?)
IPA (American), Empire Brewing Co, India Pale Ale
JC-1.5, CE-1, Avg- 1.5   Notes:  nausea inducing (similar spelling to Nassau may be reason why)

IPA (American), Fire Island Beer Co, Red Wagon IPA
JC- 1.5, CE-.5, Avg.-1    Notes:  gross except for the front (doesn’t save it). not falling off the wagon for this one

Pale Ale (American), Steadfast Beer Co, Sorghum Pale Ale (Gluten Free)
JC-.5, CE-.5, Avg-.5       Notes: Thin, bitter shit. DUD

Witbier, The Brewers Collective, Vorlauf’s Witbier
JC-1.5, CE-0, Avg- 1      Notes:  Mr. Clean garbage, asshole bartender throws tasting “glass”

Huh?
Pumpkin Ale, Rex Beverage Holdings, Horny Goat Hornycopia Pumpkin Ale
JC-5.5, CE-3.5, Avg-4.5   Notes: pumpkin & chalk (why serve this at a Spring beer festival? probably dumping stock)