Archive | October, 2012

Here’s what you missed last Saturday: The Staten Island Yankee Craft Beer Fest

27 Oct

Last Saturday locals and out-of-towners alike flocked to the Richmond County Ballpark in St. George, Staten Island:  Not for a baseball game, but for a beer festival.

Home-brewers and vendors were in the gates early to set up their stands for the limited VIP-ers who were granted early access to the park at noon.  And the weather couldn’t have been nicer: Mother Nature smiled on us with a perfectly warm and sunny Autumn day.

VIP ticket-holders were able to visit a special section: A private patio overlooking the ballpark with a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.

They were also able taste some specialty beers from Sam Adams, Blue Moon (like their Vintage Blonde Ale), and Harpoon as well as some tequila samples from Riazul that were limited to the VIP patio.  Hors d’ouerves were passed around to make us VIPs feel even more fancy, and I have to admit the experience was worth the extra ticket price.

Even for the masses that were not participating in the sold-out VIP option, there were plenty of beers: Over 40 breweries offered a variety of pours to the thirsty crowd.  There were also about a dozen local restaurants offering samples of their cuisine for the hungry festival attendees.

Local NYC breweries like Kelso (who offered their Kellerfest) and Brooklyn Brewery (who poured their fall seasonal Oktoberfest and Post Road Pumpkin) were present as well as some upstate New York favorites such as Ithaca, Saranac, Empire and Lake Placid.  Of course, there were a lot of familiar names like Sam Adams and Goose Island pouring their beers as well.

There was also a home-brewing competition that was capped at 20 brewers—with everything from porters, to IPA’s to the winning brew: A Fig Dubbel called Figeddaboudit brewed by Sean Torres and Phil Gardner.

Several members from Staten Island’s regional home-brewing club, Pour Standards, represented their home borough well, with local members snagging a first and second place (for Paul Camarca’s tasty barrel-aged bourbon Porter).

Two Girls One Pint was conveniently located next to the home-brewers last Saturday and I was greatly impressed by the quality and creativity represented.  It would be great if more beer festivals that we attended had a home-brewing component!

Periodic stein-holding competitions and two local bands (the Bandulos and Man Down) provided entertainment throughout the day and raffles for gift baskets helped raise money for the event’s charity: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Overall last Saturday’s beer festival was a local success, and we hope to attend more like this in the near future.   A special thanks goes out to the two women who helped organize and manage the event: Kerry Haley and Jillian Wright, whose efforts to showcase the local food and beer scene on Staten Island was appreciated.  We raise a pint to you girls—Cheers!




Looking for something to spice up your weekend? Go to the Staten Island Yankee Craft Beer fest! Not in NYC? Why not host your own tasting party?

15 Oct

I’m sure you’ve been to a beer-tasting event, whether held at your local beer shop or bar or at a beer festival, where hundreds of different beers are at your fingertips, and you most likely don’t have the time (or physical endurance) to taste them all.

But what about hosting your own?  Maybe you’ve acquired unique bottles on your summer travels and haven’t had the opportunity to try them.  Or you pick up a rare bottle one day because you are feeling adventurous and are “saving it for a special occasion” (like my bottle of ‘Hops N’ Roses’ from Captain Lawrence that I haven’t gotten around to opening yet).

Trying new beers is always exciting, especially for us beer geeks, but sharing them with other craft beer connoisseurs is even better.

Recently we were invited to our friends’ apartments to put a dent in their pretty impressive beer selection.  What was even better: Many of these beers (or rather, most) aren’t even available for purchase in the NYC area.

So how do find a community of fellow craft beer lovers to share your beer with?  If you’re as lucky as me, then all your friends have good taste (in beer at least) and it’s not hard, but joining a local craft beer appreciation society (like my local Richmond County Beer Club) or joining your local craft beer bar’s beer club is a good start.

Also, in past years, I’ve turned birthday parties into beer tastings.  Put some records on (yes I have a vinyl player) and put some snacks out—along with a bunch of your favorite brews.  Give your guests a glass and taste away.  Sure beats pizza, soda and cake (ok, well don’t skip the cake if it’s a birthday party).

And cheese pairs beautifully with beers—pick up some stilton and some brie from a local dairy and you’ve got yourself a party.  Crusty bread and crackers are necessary too.  Use some of your beer to whip up some beer cheese or mustard and serve with pretzels.

At this recent tasting I was lucky enough to sample Kentucky Dark Star, an Imperial, bourbon-barrel aged oatmeal stout from Fremont Brewing Co. in Seattle (where my friends hail from).  It was an impressive bourbon barrel aged beer, creamy and oaky, with hints of vanilla, chocolate balancing with a roasted bitterness.

We compared this to an Imperial Schwarzbier also aged in bourbon barrels, from restaurant/brewery Flossmoor station outside of Chicago.

The nice thing about hosting your own tasting party as you can try any beer you want at any time, but to really enjoy all flavors you’re experiencing, it’s good to start with lighter styles (we started with some sours) and move from there.  Save the palate-wrecking IPAs for last.

Or maybe you just want to stick with one style: Everyone seems to be really into sours these days but perhaps have not tasted a lot or even found one they like.  Have everyone bring one or two examples of their favorite sour beer and drink away.

You can make your upcoming Halloween party a pumpkin beer party.  Have your guests bring their favorite pumpkin beer (you could even include some ciders in here since its cider season and drinking it is more fun than bobbing for apples).  Offer some sweet treats and pair them with your pumpkin beers—even better than trick-or-treating.

Hosting (or attending) a beer tasting party can make your usual weekend plans a little more exciting.  Watching the alumni football game with the guys this weekend?  Bring a six-pack or a growler of your current favorite session beer.  Sure beats choking down “The King of Beers,” in the back of your buddy’s fridge.

And if you want to get fancy, you can make your next dinner party revolve around beer and food pairings.  Your guests will be impressed.